MATCH REPORTS

Newcastle United 0 Arsenal 0

Jonas Gutierrez Arsenal

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Journalist

At St. James' Park

 

Newcastle United 0

Arsenal 0

 

A superb defensive performance saw Newcastle pick up a point on the opening day of the Premier League season with a goalless draw at home to ten-man Arsenal.

The Gunners had better of the game for large spells and went close through Laurent Koscielny's header, which was cleared off the line by Danny Simpson, a Robin Van Persie effort, and Theo Walcott's low strike.

But led by the outstanding centre-back pairing of Steven Taylor and captain Fabricio Coloccini, the Magpies held firm to record a clean sheet and make a promising start to the new campaign.

Arsenal's cause wasn't helped by a straight red card to summer signing Gervinho, who raised his hands in a scuffle with Joey Barton, while Newcastle new boys Yohan Cabaye and Gabriel Obertan both caught the eye with impressive displays.

The visitors dominated the early exchanges with plenty of possession but without seriously troubling United keeper Tim Krul.

Within two minutes Arsenal had signalled their intent as Aaron Ramsey laid the ball into the path of Tomas Rosicky 20 yards out, only for the midfielder to scuff his effort wide.

However, Newcastle hit back and on 17 minutes Simpson's cross from the right was deflected by Kieran Gibbs, forcing Wojciech Szczesny into a good save at his near post.

The stopper had to be alert seconds later to race out of his box and head clear a dangerous ball over the top, but the action was soon back at the other end and the visitors went agonisingly close through captain Van Persie's effort, which dropped inches wide of the upright after the ball had fallen kindly to him around eight yards out.

Jonas Gutierrez flashed a volley from the edge of the box wide in the 22nd minute, but Arsenal almost took the lead soon after when centre-back Laurent Koscielny rose above Krul to meet Rosicky's right-wing corner, but Simpson was on hand to hack the header clear off the goalline.

More resolute defending from the hosts kept Arsenal at bay a couple of minutes before the break. Andrei Arshavin's cheeky chip over the Magpies' rearguard set Van Persie clear, but Steven Taylor recovered well to out-muscle the front man and shepherd the ball back to his keeper.

Gabriel Obertan was brought off the bench for his United debut at half-time, replacing Demba Ba, and the pacy forward joined Shola Ameobi in attack to try and give the hosts a different dimension.

But it was Arsenal who continued to press and Van Persie sent a free-kick on to the roof of the net on 55 minutes, after Gutierrez had been penalised for a foul on Bacary Sagna.

Obertan almost created an opening out of nothing when, controlling Ameobi's flick, he back-heeled brilliantly into the path of Yohan Cabaye, but the summer signing was unable to get the ball fully under control as he sensed a shot at goal.

As the game opened up Krul made a fine stop in the 65th minute to deny substitute Walcott. The England winger was attempting to finish off an impressive flowing move involving Van Persie and Ramsey, but his low curling effort was kept out by the Dutch stopper - who grabbed the ball at the second attempt.

Tempers flared on 75 minutes when Gervinho went down inside the box and appealed for a penalty. Referee Peter Walton was having none of it, and Barton tried to drag the Gunners forward to his feet.

A scuffle occurred between a handful of players and Barton was left in a heap on the floor, with Mr Walton issuing a red card to Gervinho for raising his hands. Barton and Szczesny were also booked for their parts in the fracas.

The incident seemed to spark the contest in to life and Barton fizzed a long-range half-volley narrowly over the top as Newcastle tried to make their numerical advantage count.

A St. James' Park crowd of more than 46,000 roared the hosts on to record a memorable victory, but a late Barton free-kick and corner came to nothing as the clock ticked away and the spoils were shared.

 

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Ryan Taylor; Joey Barton, Yohan Cabaye (Peter Lovenkrands 80), Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez; Shola Ameobi (Leon Best 73), Demba Ba (Gabriel Obertan 46)

Subs not used: Fraser Forster, Mike Williamson, Dan Gosling, Sammy Ameobi

 

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Wojciech Szczesny; Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs; Alex Song, Aaron Ramsey (Johan Djourou 90); Gervinho, Tomas Rosicky (Emmanuel Frimpong 85), Andrei Arshavin (Theo Walcott 61); Robin van Persie (c)

Subs not used: Lukasz Fabianski, Carl Jenkinson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Marouane Chamakh

 

Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)

 

Attendance: 46,894 (3,352 Arsenal)

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