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Russia international has admitted that the Gunners may have been a little rusty at the Toon, but insists he is encouraged by the display at St James' Park

Andrey Arshavin has conceded that Arsenal were lacking in sharpness in the first game of the season, which ended in a 0-0 draw at Newcastle United.

The Gunners went to the stadium where they sensationally threw away a four-goal lead last season, and managed to come away with only a point to show for their efforts.

But the Russia international insists that the north Londoners were a little rusty on the day, as he said on his official website: "I think it was a good match.

"Arsenal was dominating the pitch, held the initiative. In my opinion, the opponent didn’t have a single scoring chance. Perhaps, in some moment we were not quick enough. Maybe, in general, we lacked a little sharpness. Up until the last minute of the match I believed in our win."

The game took a controversial turn with less than 15 minutes to go, when Joey Barton reacted angrily to what he perceived was a dive by new Gunner Gervinho.

The Ivorian appeared to have slapped Barton after losing his temper, and the referee sent him off for an early shower.

"When the referee showed him the red card, I had a feeling strikingly different from the one I had experienced last season," said Arshavin. "A year ago I would have thought that now we could concede. But this time, on the contrary, I felt that we would manage to press on and win in the minority. Of course, now we are upset that we didn’t get enough points."

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