Arsenal crawl to 1-0 victory against 10-man Newcastle
Arsenal eked out a 1-0 victory against Newcastle at St James Park via a Fabricio Coloccini own goal. The match saw the Tynesiders playing with only 10 men on the pitch as referee Andre Marriner sent off Aleksandar Mitrovic within the first 15 minutes.
Laurent Koscielny returned to the starting line-up for Arsenal, as manager Arsene Wenger rang in a couple of changes bringing in Oxlade-Chamberlain to the starting XI in place of Ozil who sustained a minor injury ahead of the game and Theo Walcott replaced Olivier Giroud up front. Alan Pardew made one major change giving new signing Florian Thauvin a start for Newcastle.
The home side would have history against them as they started the game without even a single win against Arsenal in the last 8 games, they ended the game by extending the run to 9 games, a largely poor game for Arsenal but definitely a good result.
A tame start to the match saw the first chance created only in the 9th minute for Walcott as he seemed through on goal but Tim Krul was off his line quickly to deny the Englishman a proper shot at goal. The Southampton product’s game in front of goal was going to be a poor one and this was just the beginning.
One of the larger talking points of the game was a penalty denied to Arsenal as early as the 13th minute as Thauvin trod on Hector Bellerin in the box but the referee who could have been unsighted waved the appeals away.
Then a massive blow came for the home side as their new striker Mitrovic was pulled up by Andre Marriner for a studs up tackle on Francis Coquelin. The Serbian received a straight red for his tackle and will likely see a three-match ban for violent conduct.
Arsenal should have pounced on the opportunity to make their man advantage count but they mustered only a few chances in despite having the lion’s share of possession. The few chances they did create in the first half were squandered by poor finishing from Walcott. The winger-converted-striker missed a glorious chance in the 32nd minute as he skied a chance from close range to put his team ahead. He would go on to miss another chance in the game albeit a tougher one running on to a low cross from Alexis Sanchez but the English forward failed to convert from close range.
A resolute Newcastle and a wasteful Walcott denied Arsenal a lead going into half-time, looking like they would rue their missed chances. Newcastle started the second half not only a man short but with 5 players on yellow cards, Moussa Sissoko, Chancel Mbemba, Florian Thauvin, Vurnon Anita, and Georginio Wijnaldum those in the book. Their captain Fabricio Coloccini would join them in there by the end of the game.
The cards proved to be a lesser concern for the Magpies as Arsenal came alive in the 52nd minute when Alexis received the ball at the edge of Newcastle's box and took a snapshot but as it cannoned off a defender, the ball fortunately for the Gunners fell to Aaron Ramsey whose shot was parried by Tim Krul. Arsenal would be third time lucky as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was in the right place to bring the ball under control and send his shot back across goal only to be deflected of Coloccini into his own net.
While Arsenal did not create much in the rest of the game, they were under little threat from Newcastle during the entire 90 minutes.
The result puts Arsenal in the top 4 temporarily with 7 points and a superior goal difference while the Magpies’ poor early results have left them with only 2 points so far from 4 games. While the table at this point in the season is not a definitive indication of how it will go on to be at the end of the year, it’s not a start anyone will envy. Steve Mclaren has a huge task ahead of him if he’s going to make a mark on the premier League in his latest stint at the top English League.