By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 1 (Sissoko 48)
Arsenal 2 (Giroud 24, 28)
Newcastle United put in an outstanding second-half performance but fell to a 2-1 Barclays Premier League defeat against Arsenal at St. James' Park on Saturday.
Olivier Giroud's quickfire double put Arsenal firmly - and deservedly - in the lead at the break, but the Magpies were a different team after the restart and halved the deficit through a clinical finish from captain Moussa Sissoko.
The Gunners controlled the first half and Giroud broke the deadlock on 24 minutes, diverting Danny Welbeck's goalbound header past Tim Krul.
The goalkeeper was picking the ball out of the net again just four minutes later, this time as Giroud was given too much space at a corner to nod home.
When Sissoko sidefooted in Remy Cabella's cut-back early in the second half it was the catalyst for a superb showing which had Arsenal on the ropes for long spells.
As expected, Arsenal enjoyed plenty of early possession but United illustrated their counter-attacking threat inside the opening two minutes when Moussa Sissoko drove upfield and fed Ayoze Perez wide on the left, whose deflected cross caused panic in the visitors' rearguard.
Despite enjoying so much of the ball, it took the Gunners 13 minutes to fashion their first goalscoring opportunity.
Santi Cazorla's free-kick from wide on the right found its way through to Sanchez at the far post, but an excellent block from the full-back prevented the Chilean's strike reaching Tim Krul.
Soon after, a free-kick from an identical position gave Arsenal the lead.
Again it was Cazorla's delivery, this time met by the head of Welbeck, and his effort was helped on its way and diverted home by Giroud - the Frenchman's seventh goal in Arsenal's last six meetings with United.
Just four minutes later, Giroud's eighth goal against the Magpies arrived. A set-piece was again Newcastle's undoing, as Giroud easily nodded Cazorla's right-wing corner into the Gallowgate End net.
Ryan Taylor struck a 25-yard free-kick into the wall in response, before Perez had a penalty shout turned down by referee Mike Jones after tangling with Gabriel Paulista.
The hosts were unable to secure a foothold back in the game before half-time, but three minutes into the second period the deficit was halved.
The goal owed much to fantastic work from Ryan Taylor down the right, starting with a nutmeg on Danny Welbeck, before exhchanging passes with Remy Cabella, who provided a low centre which Sissoko sidefooted home - making a difficult finish look easy.
That sparked United into life and immediately they were inches away from levelling, as Perez took control 20 yards out before bending a strike agonisingly the wrong side of the upright.
On 61 minutes, a spell of sustatined pressure saw another penalty appeal fall on deaf ears, this time when Perez's cross seemed to strike the arm of Calum Chambers. The ball made its way through to Gouffran, but he could only stab straight at David Ospina through a crowded box.
The Magpies had Arsenal on the ropes and from a Ryan Taylor corner, Ospina made a point-blank stop to keep out Sissoko's close-range flick after the French powerhouse had latched on to Mike Williamson's header.
Janmaat wasn't far away with a low 30-yard shot while Perez had another effort deflected on to the roof of the net and Cabella almost scored what would have been a stunning individual effort - waltzing past five Gunners before planting a shot at Ospina.
On 82 minutes a third penalty shout of the afternoon was waved away by Mr Jones - this time when Cabella fell under pressure as he met Sammy Ameobi's cut-back.
As time ticked away, Perez's deflected low effort struck the foot of the post, and that was the final chance as United were left to reflect on a brilliant second half performance which ultimately failed to deliver any points.
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Tim Krul; Ryan Taylor, Daryl Janmaat, Mike Williamson, Jack Colback; Moussa Sissoko (c), Vurnon Anita (Jonas Gutierrez 71); Remy Cabella, Yoan Gouffran, Sammy Ameobi (Adam Armstrong 89); Ayoze Perez
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): David Ospina; Calum Chambers, Gabriel Paulista, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal; Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey; Alexis Sanchez (Tomas Rosicky 71), Santi Cazorla (c) (Mathieu Flamini 71), Danny Welbeck (Hector Bellerin 89); Olivier Giroud
Subs not used: Wojciech Szczesny, Kieran Gibbs, Per Mertesacker, Theo Walcott
Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)
Bookings: Newcastle - none; Arsenal - none
Attendance: 50,543 (3,200 Arsenal)