Newcastle 0 Arsenal 1

Mike Williamson

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor

At St. James' Park



Newcastle United 0

Arsenal 1 (Giroud 65)



Newcastle United suffered only their second defeat in ten games as they went down 1-0 at home to Arsenal on Sunday in the Barclays Premier League.


Olivier Giroud's second-half header separated the sides at St. James' Park, but the result failed to tell the full story of a fixture in which the Magpies were excellent and could, on another day, have been celebrating three points.


Mathieu Debuchy struck the woodwork,while Moussa Sissoko, Loic Remy, Yohan Cabaye and substitute Shola Ameobi all threatened, but United failed to score at home in the league for the first time since August.


United spent much of the opening ten minutes on the back-foot as Arsenal roared out of the traps, and Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini and Davide Santon all made crucial interventions to prevent the visitors getting shots off.


But on 12 minutes United almost found the breakthrough.


Some patient passing found Cabaye just inside his own half, and the midfielder promptly flighted a ball over the top for Mathieu Debuchy to chase.


The French full-back had beaten the offside trap and would have been through one-on-one but the pass was agonisingly an inch or two beyond him and just failed to control.


Newcastle were beginning to grow in confidence, having weathered Arsenal's early pressure.


Yohan Cabaye fired well over the top from distance before Moussa Sissoko was picked out at the far post by Loic Remy's cross but could only head straight at visiting keeper Wojciech Szczesny.


Debuchy then struck a half volley from a difficult angle into the back of the Leazes Stand rather than the back of the net, after Cabaye's diagonal free-kick found its way through to him.


At the other end, Gunners midfielder Tomas Rosicky drove straight at Tim Krul, before the Dutch stopper did well to smother a similar effort from Santi Cazorla.


Right on the stroke of half-time Newcastle had two great chances to edge in front. First, Sissoko picked up on a loose ball 20 yards out and let fly, only to be denied by Szczesny's fingertips, before - from the resulting corner - Debuchy looped a header back across goal and against the crossbar.


Following a tentative opening to the second period, the game sparked back into life when Vurnon Anita's chipped cross caused havoc in the Arsenal rearguard. Szczesny, trying to claim the ball, collided with two of his defenders but no visiting player was on hand to prod home and the danger was scrambled clear.


Hatem Ben Arfa was introduced just past the hour mark, in place of Yoan Gouffran, but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock almost immediately after.


Cheick Tiote had bundled over Cazorla and when Theo Walcott clipped in the resulting free-kick, Giroud escaped the attentions of the United defence to glance home.


Arsenal almost snatched a second minutes later but Theo Walcott was first denied by Krul, before lobbing the rebound goalwards, only for Debuchy to head clear from under his own crossbar.


Shola Ameobi was next to enter the fray from the bench, as the Magpies went in search of an equaliser, and the big striker immediately set about causing problems in the visitors' defence.


And Alan Pardew's third and final roll of the dice came with Massadio Haidara replacing Sissoko, and United switching to a 3-5-2 formation.


The hosts were inches away from equalising with eight minutes remaining, as Remy closed down Szczesny's clearance, the ball hitting his face but rolling agonisingly the wrong side of the upright.


Ameobi failed to get enough power behind a drive which was simple for Szczesny, while deep into stoppage time Ben Arfa rippled the side netting having cut inside from the right.


That was Newcastle's final chance of the afternoon, as 2013 ended on a losing note for Pardew's men.



Newcastle United (4-3-3): Tim Krul; Mathieu Debuchy, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; Vurnon Anita (Shola Ameobi 74), Cheick Tiote, Yohan Cabaye; Moussa Sissoko (Massadio Haidara 79), Loic Remy, Yoan Gouffran (Hatem Ben Arfa 62)


Subs not used: Rob Elliot, Massadio Haidara, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Sammy Ameobi, Papiss Cisse



Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Wojciech Szczesny; Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker (c), Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs (Mikel Arteta 70); Mathieu Flamini, Jack Wilshere; Theo Walcott (Carl Jenkinson 80), Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla; Olivier Giroud (Nicklas Bendtner 85)


Subs not used: Lukasz Fabianski, Ryo Miyaichi, Serge Gnabry, Lukas Podolski



Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)


Bookings: Newcastle - none; Arsenal - Giroud (36), Flamini (75), Rosicky (76)



Attendance: 52,161 (3,150 Arsenal)

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