Gunners held by Magpies at St James' Park as new-signing sees red after incident with midfielder which concluded a frustrating game for Arsene Wenger's sideArsenal were held to a draw by Newcastle United on the opening day of the season in a controversial game which saw debutant Gervinho sent-off after an incident with Joey Barton.
The Gunners lined up without Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri as both players look set to seal moves away from the Emirates to Barcelona and Manchester City respectively.
Barton started for the Magpies despite being put on the transfer list following comments he made about the club’s policy on his Twitter page.
The visitors were the quickest out of the blocks and had the first chance of the game in the opening minute when Tomas Rosicky fired wide from just outside the box following a flowing move by the Gunners.
Arsene Wenger’s side were seeing a lot of the ball and new signing Gervinho was having a major impact raiding on both flanks and his ball to Robin van Persie fell kindly to the Dutchman following a ricochet off Fabricio Coloccini but the striker’s effort crept just wide of the post.
Newcastle were struggling to get a foothold in the game and were reduced to speculative efforts from Ryan Taylor and Barton as the half wore on.
With minutes left in the first period, Van Persie was presented with another good chance to break the deadlock after being but through by a sublime chip from Arshavin, which looped over the Magpies defence.
However, the Dutchman couldn’t bring it under control when under pressure from the Steven Taylor and his appeals for handball against the 25-year-old were dismissed by referee Peter Walton as the Gunners grew frustrated with their lack of success in front of goal.
The second half started with slowly with both teams having decent spells of possession but were unable to deliver a quality final ball to break the stalemate.
Not much in it | Goalmouth chances were few and far between
The Gunners came closest to opening the scoring through Van Persie again but his free-kick from outside the area fell the wrong side of the Tim Krul’s crossbar.
The hosts responded to this threat and new signing Yohan Cabaye, wearing the No.4 formerly of departed captain Kevin Nolan, jinked his way through the Arsenal defence but couldn’t get any power on his shot which rolled comfortably into the hands of Wojciech Szczesny.
Arsene Wenger introduced Theo Walcott on the hour mark and the England man nearly made an instant impact, but his right-footed shot was straight at Krul following an incisive Gunners move.
The game then delved into controversy as a brawl erupted between the two sides after Gervinho went down under a challenge from Tiote in the corner of the penalty box.
Barton reacted by pulling the former Lille man to his feet by his shirt, which the Ivorian didn’t like and appeared to strike the midfielder with his hand although replays suggest the former Manchester City man went down softly.
Referee Walton consulted with his assistants before sending Gervinho off on his Arsenal debut to the fury of Arsene Wenger on the bench, meanwhile Barton escaped the incident with only a yellow card.
Newcastle tried to make their one-man advantage count but were held to long distance efforts with Barton being particularly wasteful in front of goal.
As the clock wound down, both sides were unable to find a breakthrough and were forced to settle for a point each on the opening day of the season.