Arsenal - Newcastle United 0 Arsenal 0
UK time is: 00:47:08
Vital Login
Social Login

Choose your club

Other Sites

Network Navigation

Vital Partners

'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Newcastle United 0 Arsenal 0

The first day of the new football season is undoubtedly the most wonderful time of the year. Everyone`s clock is set to zero, excitement at its premium as destinies are there to be shaped. Having not undertaken an arduous coach journey for over 3 months, Newcastle away was an ideal destination to begin. The legs and mind are refreshed with the break from the scenery of the English motorway and its incessant lane closures. The long journey is met with enthusiasm, old acquaintances are renewed. It`s always the same faces that keep showing up. There`s a familial feeling about that that makes one feel warm and fuzzy inside.

The journey north took on a rather surreal bent as I had been asked on Friday afternoon to contribute to a discussion on Arsenal live on Radio 5. They asked me the general consensus of opinion and the mood amongst Arsenal fans. I tried to paint us as on a bit of a tipping point, waiting to see what the summer and the season brings before declaring an outright mutiny on the current manager. It appears I stretched the truth by trying to represent our current fan base as quite that considered.

Upon arrival into the city of Newcastle, Bruno, Terry, Young Tim and I took to the city centre in search of liquid refreshment. 4.30pm in Newcastle looks much like London does at about 11.30pm, crawling with people well on the way to drunken oblivion. My kind of town! At £8.25 for a round of four drinks, we were suitably refreshed without being economically brow beaten. With our gullets full, we made the walk back to St. James` Park and took on the 13 flights of stairs that lead to the upper echelons of the away enclosure. The air was a mild, but good natured shade of blue as the away fans chanted some unpleasant things about a man named Samir.

Arsenal dominated the opening half, but appeared to lack a little cohesion with their decision making in the final third. Kieran Gibbs broke forward inside the first fifteen minutes and found Arshavin in space on the edge of Newcastle`s area. He steered the ball wide to Gervinho, who appeared to get the ball stuck under his feet in the area. Ramsey picked up the loose ball and nudged it backwards to Rosicky, but he slightly miscued with an attempt to bend the ball into the bottom corner. Arsenal were playing well until they approached the last 5% of the field, where they lacked a little cohesion. Gervinho`s low cross looked to have been cleared by Taylor, but his clearance ricocheted off of Coloccini and into the path of van Persie, whose snap shot was deflected narrowly wide.

Danny Simpson was forced to make a hurried clearance from his goal line when Rosicky`s corner was met by Koscielny, who firmly challenged Krul. The ball spilled goalwards but Simpson hacked it away from the goal line. It would have been a deserved goal for Koscielny, who struck up an impressive partnership with Vermaelen. Vermaelen was all aggression, attacking every ball with ardour. Koscielny intelligently mopped and intercepted. Szczesny too proved to be a commanding presence behind, assertively commanding his area with a willingness to leave his goal line and alleviate pressure from the defence. It looks to be a solid building block for the season. But the Gunners best chance came five minutes before the interval, when Arshavin delightfully looped a ball over the top of the Newcastle defence for van Persie inside the area. But the Dutchman, who looked to be lacking a little in sharpness, couldn`t bring the ball under his spell. At half time, Arsenal looked solid if unspectacular. Given how ragged they looked last April; it was pleasing to see the "solid" element at least.

The second half did not offer up a great deal more in terms of goalmouth incident. Van Persie`s free kick from the right corner of the box whistled just over the bar. But the flashpoints have become the real talking points of the match. Firstly when Barton executed the type of challenge he specialises in. That is to say, a fair challenge that leaves a little nibble in after, designed to wind up the opponent. Alex Song was brain-dead enough to take the bait and stamped on the back of Joey Barton`s calf. Leaving aside the fact that many of us wouldn`t mind wiping our feet on Barton`s face, it was an immensely stupid act that will more than likely see him banned for 3 matches when we really don`t need it. Regardless of retrospective punishment, I`d like to think the club will relieve him of a couple of week`s salary.

The Gunners brought Walcott on in place of Arshavin to try and inject more direction into the Arsenal attack. It nearly paid off when van Persie found Ramsey, who found Walcott cutting in from the left. Theo got a shot away from inside the area, but Krul was able to hold at the second attempt. Newcastle`s most prescient opportunity seemed to arrive when Cabaye hooked a ball over the top of the Arsenal rearguard. Leon Best raced onto it but Laurent Koscielny rushed back with a clean interception to sniff out the danger. At about this time, a significant section of the away fans began to sing, "Spend some f*****g money." Presumably on defenders? When we`re defending well and keeping a clean sheet away from home? This should also assassinate the myth that our away support is any different from the home support. More vocal, yes. But the prevailing attitude is the same and has been for a few years now.

A dull game was however given a spark from a predictable source. Ramsey found Gervinho on the left; the Ivorian schemed his way into the box. His compatriot Tiote hung out a leg and appeared to catch Gervinho, if only slightly. Not the most stonewall penalty in the world, but not really a dive either. The referee and the players seemed happy to get on with it. Until Joey Barton, a man not exactly famed for his powers of self control, waded in and tried to haul Gervinho to his feet via his collar. (Gervinho was already getting up by now). A scuffle broke out, Gervinho slapped Barton on the side of the head, and the self styled hard man and scourge of teenage lads (on this evidence, you can see why he usually chooses to pick fights with boys under 18 in his personal travails) fell to the floor with quite pathetic exaggeration. So the very crime he accused Gervinho of, committed himself all of five seconds later.

It`s typical of Barton, who is a bully and a coward. (I reiterate, this would be why he fights lads much younger usually). Gervinho deserved his red card because you just cannot raise a hand and expect to get away with it. But there`s something wrong with the rules when the perpetrators constantly find the meagre punishment of a yellow card, when the reactor is given the ultimate penalty of a red card and three match ban. That Barton continues to get away with this kind of on pitch behaviour is baffling and is evidence that reports of Barton being a reformed character are well wide of the mark. Via his twitter feed, he has tried to restyle himself as a misunderstood, intellectual rebel. But no matter how many Nietzsche quotes he cuts and pastes into his tweets, the fact is that he just has absolutely no control over himself. This is why Newcastle are punting him on for free. Unfortunately, via Nasri, Diaby, Song and now Gervinho, our players keep reacting to him. Unfortunately, Barton is never punished for his misgivings in these situations. So he`ll do it again. Our reaction will have to be much more measured in future.

Arsenal were down to ten and would need concentration and work ethic to hold onto the point. With Vermaelen and Koscielny marshalling the back, they did so. It was a quality Arsenal didn`t show last season, the ability to adapt to in game situations and refocus their game plan. Joey Barton`s volley from the edge of the area was about as close as Newcastle came, as the Gunners held firm. Once again, the chants of "spend some f*****g money" rang out. It was a pretty inopportune time to air that grievance given that the team were down to ten men and holding firm. I can`t imagine how the likes of Vermaelen and Koscielny would have felt hearing that their efforts had gone so unappreciated by people who had paid money to come and watch them.

Arsenal might have nicked the win in injury time as the chance of a breakaway presented itself, with van Persie and Walcott running free with only Coloccini back to cover. But Djourou, uncharacteristically lacked composure in the pass and made a pig`s ear of the ball to Walcott, leading to the attack breaking down. In the end, I would view this as a point gained. The defence showed a confidence that provides us with a good building block for the season. It`s true we lacked incision in the final third, but I`d be confident of Arsenal finding that rhythm. The goalkeeper and defence have put down a good marker for the season and I see positives there. That`s not to say I don`t think we need some good back up for when Vermaelen or Koscielny are out, and I recognise that we`ll face more potent attacks, but we conceded four to the same set of players last season. The unbeaten side of 2003-04 drew 9 away games and often saw sense in shutting a game out when they couldn`t find their attacking rhythm. Nostalgia commits to memory that that side simply blew every team away with orgiastic attacking displays, but it wasn`t always the case. A good basis to build on. LD.

13.SZCZESNY, 3.SAGNA, 6.KOSCIELNY, 5.VERMAELEN, 28.GIBBS, 17.SONG, 16.RAMSEY (20.Djourou '89), 7.ROSICKY (26.Frimpong '82), 27.GERVINHO, 23.ARSHAVIN (14.Walcott '63), 10.v.PERSIE(c).
Unused: 15.Oxlade-Chamberlain, 18.Squillaci, 21.Fabianski, 29.Chamakh

Follow me on twitter @LittleDutchVA

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday August 14 2011

Time: 4:45PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
we looked solid in defense however it is not exactly the best attacking side north of the sahara... Wenger (bless him) seems to grasp the basic weaknesses from the game anyway " We missed something, the regret is that we missed something in the final third and in the speed of our passing."... I am very fearful that our only reliable creative outlet will be jack if nasri leaves a swell so in that sense i hope we get a player to replace him.
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 17:54:00

I thought the defence and goalkeeper did every single thing that was asked of them so they need credit for that, but I'm not going to get to exctied as Newcastle offered very little in terms of an attacking threat. The next three or four games should tell us so much more. Rosicky looked pretty slick too. I'm through commenting on Barton, the guy is a moron.
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 18:29:00

Can anyone tell me how Frimpong got on when he came on considering he's likely to nowbe thrown into the deep end?
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 19:08:00

He did o.k. Positionally he's still a bit to all over the place. I would go for Djourou for the Liverpool game personally.
Little Dutch
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 19:22:00

Bring back George Graham.
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 19:25:00

He is an all over the place kind of player - More Flamini than Song. He still gets a little excited and gives the ball away, I just hoped this was a year to ease him in rather than drop him in. I really didn't think Rosicky did much and playing him ahead of Ramsey meant we got less creativity from Rambo. Djourou should've played Walcott in, much as AA should've played in Gervinho....0-0 isn't too bad and hopefully highlighted again that creativity is something we lack.
No 10
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 20:19:00

While watching the game, I was concerned by our lack of creativity and absence of our crisp passing game. By the time the game entered the latter periods in the 2nd half, I began to think we were having a solid defensive performance which looks like it will continue for a while. I feel the defense is a good place to build back from, all considered; the other things (goal scoring, creativity, passing) will come as they are natural to this team.
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 20:57:00

It was a disgrace watching Steve Taylor make a gesture like Gervinho had used an elbow on Barton; same thing Barton did when gesturing to the referee. I wonder if these players realize we now have video replays. The Ref, surely, would have a look at replays and must form the opinion that Taylor isn't a man to be relied upon.
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 21:03:00

Funny when you look at what Diaby was sent off for last season at SJP. Picking Barton up by the scruff of his neck wasn't it?
Little Dutch
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 21:32:00

Er no LD it was for throwing him to the floor like a piece of ***** the throat.
No 10
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 21:53:00

And then pushing Nolan for trying to split them up No 10.
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 22:04:00

Should've been knighted!
No 10
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 22:08:00

Barton admitted today that Gervinho didn't dive and he did make a meal of Gervinho's slap.
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 22:24:00

The thing that irked me most about Steven Taylor was that in the interview after the game he said "I didn't see what happened". Utter Bell End
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 22:31:00

Did he say it via a rather pretentious quote? I thought Ger dived when it happened in real time, I'm glad Barton and myself have found some common ground.
No 10
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 22:32:00

Have you seen the news?
No 10
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 22:33:00

No 10
Report Abuse
14/08/2011 22:33:00

Good report, LD. The season has finally begun, but how we feel about the season will depend on what Wenger does with the money from the Cesc/Nasri departures. As for this game, no huge negatives for me, apart from Gervinho and Song (possibly) to be suspended for 3 games. Agree with Rocky about Taylor - he lied to the ref about the elbow, as did Barton who can be seen telling the ref that Gervinho punched him ! A bit baffled by Wenger's comments on Barton, and our players' behaviour with Barton post-match.
Report Abuse
15/08/2011 05:38:00

A very sensible write up LD, as expected... Reminded me a lot of a few years back (08/09?) When Wenger clearly sat down and worked on our defensive compactness. It wasnt glamourous, but grinding out draws away from home put us in good stead if we can get some wins at home. I too am hoping for an attacking option (what kind of ***** will we be in if/when RVP gets injured?), and a box to box midfielder with an eye for a pass (can cover for jack, ramsey, diaby or song?) they are the gaping holes in the squad that i can see, a quality fourth CB would be a luxury
Report Abuse
15/08/2011 07:57:00

I had a lot of faith in the first-choice back five and it was pleasing to see them get off to a solid start. Gibbs was impressive I thought and could well prove himself if he manages to stay fit. Can't express how much I hate the "spend some ******** money" chant, and as LD says, I'm sure that's in reference to another centre half. Koscielny and Vermaelen are good enough as the primary partnership as far as I'm concerned but Squillaci still looks shaky and Djourou has been wretched since he injured his shoulder at United in the cup. Reinforcements definitely needed with Cesc's departure and whilst I appreciate the supreme difficulty in picking up players, and am usually fully supportive of hard negotiating to get the best price, we cannot afford to miss out on Mata or whoever it is we're chasing. The squad looked paper thin yesterday. I'll remain patient and trust Arsene 100% but if Cesc, and potentially Nasri, are not suitably replaced we could be staring down the barrel.
Report Abuse
15/08/2011 12:13:00

I didnt bother to catch the game on tv as per usual as a result of a seriously over-exuberant friday night on the town.However, I have to say that im quite pleased with nicking a point at st.james'which has historically always been a difficult place for us.The feedback on our back 5 is quite pleasing to go and keep 5 more clean sheets in our subsequent games(that would please some of us gooners im sure).Tomorrow night will be really tricky especially without RVP,and a decent creator of chances..I'd take an old-fashioned 1-0 to the Arse-Nil.
Report Abuse
15/08/2011 15:19:00

Note on Nasri - he hasnt signed a contract extension - no one has stated its due to money except the newspapers who quote no sources and could not possibly know, and prove time and time again they are 90% wrong, yet our own fans start singing and calling nasri greedy.....great, its not the arsenal fans writing these lies, its the haters, and you've *****ed your own player off based on the words of these haters, youve let the haters win - congrats can think for yourself, you dont need other people to feed you your opinions, could it be that nasri isnt signing the extension because he doesnt want to give everything for the next couple of seasons only to lose due to rookie mistakes and defensive clangers he has experienced with this young and defensively suspect team? All things which are being resolved through training and maturing and (please wenger) signings...i wouldnt want to play for such awful fans either
Report Abuse
15/08/2011 16:31:00

It is funny when you hear "Arsenal need to sign some players, especially after losing Cesc" and "Sign a center back and a defensive midfielder" followed by each other. I agree that we need a back up center back, like Jagielka or Dann, but we clearly need at least one creative attacking player.
Report Abuse
16/08/2011 18:44:00


Have Your Say

Log in...
with your social network     OR     with your Vital account

Recent Arsenal Articles

Stats: Norwich City v Arsenal (Sunday November 29 2015)

Match Preview Norwich vs Arsenal (Saturday November 28 2015)

The Arsenal Injury Table..Updated (Friday November 27 2015)

Infographic - Most Fouled....Sánchez (Wednesday November 25 2015)

Archived Arsenal Articles

List All Vital Arsenal Articles
Have your say
Click here to suggest an article
Click here to suggest a poll
ScoopDragon Premier League Network Sites

Vital Members League (view all)

1. Naijagunner 33
2. Galway Gooner 18
3. 0716389009 16
4. Wyn Mills 11
5. Afcdc 5
6. Guyfox 4
7. phreddy 2
8. Nwankwo25 2
9. Pat Rick 1
10. Will-i-am10 1

League Table (view table)

Team P W D L GD Pts
1. Man City 14 9 2 3 16 29
2. Leicester City 14 8 5 1 8 29
3. Man Utd 14 8 4 2 10 28
4. Arsenal 14 8 3 3 12 27
5. Spurs 14 6 7 1 13 25
6. Liverpool 14 6 5 3 3 23
7. Crystal Palace 14 7 1 6 5 22

Arsenal Fixtures (view all)

Breaking League News

Larsson: We Need To Concentrate On Wins
» Sunderland : 30/11/2015 00:30:01
» Norwich : 29/11/2015 20:22:01
» Swansea : 29/11/2015 19:19:00
Monk Has 'No Complaints' With 'Excellent Performance'
» Swansea : 29/11/2015 19:05:00
» Liverpool : 29/11/2015 19:00:01

Current Site Poll (view all polls)

MOTM vs Dinamo Zagreb
Suggested By:  
Cech 6%
Bellerin 0%
Kos 0%
BFG 0%
Monreal 2%
Flamini 0%
Cazorla 0%
Campbell 2%
Ozil 55%
Sanchez 29%
Giroud 4%
Debuchy 0%
Rambo 0%
Chambers 2%