The Gunners, missing several star names had the better of the opening exchanges, but came up against a Geordie defence that stood firm with both centre-backs rising to the occasion. For all the visitors’ slick passing, quick movement and possession, they could not find a way through and struggled to fashion any clear cut opportunities at St James’ Park.
In the second-half, the Newcastle defence turned in another fantastic shift and were well protected by a midfield that ensured clear cut chances were kept to a minimum.
Then with 14 minutes remaining the weekend’s real drama begun. Arsenal’s new summer signing took a theatrical tumble in the penalty area, which incensed the Newcastle players and Joey Barton in particular. In the melee that followed, the striker raised his hand and was given his marching orders as the match threatened to boil over.
With the atmosphere raised a notch by the sending-off, both teams piled men forward and looked for the winner, but despite their best efforts, the game finished goalless. Newcastle will be pleased with an excellent defensive performance and will go into their next match full of confidence, but the sending proved the big talking point of the weekend.
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