Newcastle 0-0 Arsenal

It’s a funny old thing football, you spend three long summer months waiting for its glorious return & when it finally comes it’s all a bit of an anticlimax – except that it isn’t because it’s bloody brilliant.

Up at St James’ Park Arsenal started with what was perhaps the strongest team available to them – Szczesny – Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelan – Gibbs – Rosicky – Ramsey – Song – Arshavin – Gervinho – Van Persie.

The game got underway & to be perfectly honest with you, the big talking points aside, for ninety minutes not a hell of a lot happened. We kept the ball well, we passed the ball well, we had the lions share of possession and we got ourselves in some good positions but up front & in midfield we really seemed to be lacking that bit of spark & cutting edge.

I can’t really blame anyone for this or say they didn’t have a good game, it just never kicked off until it all kicked off.

We lacked the industry of Jack Wilshere in midfield, the contestant drive and hounding of the ball that we’ve become so accustomed to and maybe in truth we also needed someone who would have had those moments of genius, creating something a little bit different – Andrey Arshavin came closest to this especially with the wonderful little chip he played over the top of the Newcastle defence and into the path of RVP. Unfortunately Robin couldn’t quite get the ball under control as Steven Taylor put him under enough pressure to allow Krul to collect the ball.

Robin also had a decent free kick, won on the edge of the Newcastle box after Sagna had been taken down by Gutierrez, but it flew inches over the cross-bar.

Those two chances aside we had maybe another three or four decent efforts that I can recall but nothing that ever really troubled Tim Krul or could be deemed overly unlucky. And Newcastle troubled Szczesny even less than that – in fact much of the credit for that must go to our back four who looked solid yesterday, if they can all stay fit & play like that on a regular basis this season then we certainly have a basis to build upon. And as Wenger said after the game Koscielny & Vermaelan have to take credit

The real talking points of the contest came in the second half along with the darker & more unsightly side of the game.

In the 58th minute Alex Song won the ball from Joey Barton and in the resulting tussle Barton went down. Song stood with his back to Barton who was incensed, but at that point it was unclear why, it had looked like a nothing challenge from either player. Barton gave referee Peter Walton a mouthful before storming off the pitch and remonstrating with the fourth official. Replays showed that as Barton went to ground Song had a nasty and needles stamp on his right ankle/calf.

The incident happened only yards from the touch-line and in front of the dugouts & the 4th official who it seems had missed the incident because the was setting up the electronic board to signal Theo Walcott would be replacing Andrey Arshavin. Song was already on a yellow card for an earlier needles challenge & was incredibly lucky to be staying on the pitch although there is no doubt that it will be looked at after the game & the Cameroonian will receive a retrospective ban from the FA.

You knew that Barton wouldn’t just let the incident go, he was clearly pumped up, and that before the ninety minutes was up he would certainly have his retribution.

Well didn’t he just…

Walton not looking

In the 74th minute Gervinho broke down the left flank and into the Newcastle box, as he cut back on himself with Danny Simpson & Cheik Tiote either side of him the Ivorian went to ground. It wasn’t immediately clear if there had been any contact, the ref seemed to indicate that play should continue which in itself must be a mistake? Surely if Walton believed that Gervinho had dived then he should have booked him? Well he didn’t, in fact what he did do was turn his back and start running in the opposite direction. This meant that he had no way of seeing what was going on behind him.

Still not looking

Gervinho was still laid upon the turf and for no reason what so ever Joey Barton came across and dragged him up by the scruff of the neck. Now what is interesting is if you watch the replay Steven Taylor is also barring down on Gervinho in a manner which suggests he was going to react similarly to Barton.

Straight away more players get involved and Gervinho raised his hands and bitch slapped Barton. Subsequently Barton went down clutching his face as if he has been floored by Tyson. Immediately every player on the pitch was in the Newcastle box and involved in the melee. By this time Walton had engaged in what was happening and was informed by Steven Taylor that Barton had been elbowed by Gervinho.

Gervinho was shown a red card on his arsenal debut, just like Laurent Koscielny at Anfield on the opening day of last season. And Barton was shown a yellow, as was Szczesny.

Now let’s get this right, Alex Song should have been sent off for the earlier stamp on Barton. It was needles and will now cost Song a suspension so subsequently costing the team. Gervinho should not have raised a hand to Barton even if it was about as fierce as an incontinent dog with only two legs, that will also cost him a suspension. The club will most likely face a fine for failing to control its players after everyone steamed in – all that is correct and excepted. But he didn’t do this

The behaviour of Joey Barton in this incident was also an utter disgrace, the needles manhandling of Gervinho. If you think he dived, which he didn’t – replays show there was contact with Tiote and maybe the Arsenal should have been awarded a penalty, then fine give him a mouthful. But then secondly to go to ground clutching your face and claiming to have been punched is just ridiculous & disgraceful.

Joey Barton should know all about people hitting the deck during an attack!

And the behaviour of Steven Taylor, claiming that Barton had been elbowed, sweet Jesus. For one thing it would have defied the laws of physics, how the hell would the Arsenal man have gotten his arm around Taylor and his elbow into the face of Barton? What made Taylor’s claim even more disgraceful & pathetic was that during the post match interview with Rebecca Lowe on ESPN he claimed that he didn’t see what had happened.

I really hope that further action is taken against both Barton & Taylor but I won’t hold my breath.

As I say I am not trying to excuse any of the Arsenal players caught up in this, they were in the wrong and will take the punishment dished out to them but my goodness if there is still a Gooner out there this morning who thinks we should make a move to bring Barton to the club then they really do need to seek medical advice as quickly as possible.

So all in all it was a disappointing opening to our season, there is still plenty of room for improvement and areas of the team which need to be strengthened as soon as possible. Another centre half yes, but also a creative midfielder and a striker – if anything happens to Robin we just don’t have the fire power to cope especially if Nicklas Bendtner is allowed to leave.

Next up is Udinese on Tuesday – what a massive game that is.

Thanks for reading.

Paul.

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One Response to Newcastle 0-0 Arsenal

  1. Pingback: Away day Grumbles « Up The Arsenal

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