Arsenal (van Persie 18′ pen, 41′, Denilson 59′) 3-0 Newcastle United
Stadium: Emirates Stadium
Date: 30 August 2008
English Premier League
Kickoff: 17:30 GMT, 12:30 ET
Arsenal outclassed Newcastle, 3-0, at the Emirates Stadium. Soccerlens brought the action to you live! Click below for the live blog. For coverage of all the weekend’s games, see our live scores site.
It doesn’t matter how you start, only how you finish. Based on their early season form, you could apply that statement to both Newcastle and Arsenal.
After a disastrous start to their 2007-2008 season, Newcastle fired Sam Allardyce and brought back legendary former coach Kevin Keegan. At first, Keegan was hardly a miracle worker, going winless in his first 8 matches with the Magpies, including back-to-back losses to Aston Villa and Manchester United in which they were outscored by a combined score of 9-2. However, towards the end of the season, Keegan’s message seemed to be getting through to his players, as they went on a 7-week unbeaten streak and moved safely away from the relegation drop zone.
Newcastle is hardly the definition of a juggernaut, but they are unbeaten thus far in this English Premier League season. They earned a point at Old Trafford against the defending champs, and nipped Bolton as Michael Owen raised the hopes of Newcastle and England fans by scoring the match-winner in his season debut. Newcastle also squeaked out another win during their midweek Carling Cup match against Coventry City as Owen continued to rediscover the scoring touch that once made him one of the top strikers in the world. He’ll have a lot to prove against the Gunners, especially since Fabio Capello is expected to name his roster for England’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers soon. Just as Newcastle will want to prove that they are for real and that their early season form is not a fluke.
Arsenal, on the other hand, are in crisis mode (or what passes for crisis mode at the Emirates). The Gunners’ swoon started with a 4-0 loss to Manchester United in the FA Cup, and their season started to spiral out of control during the Birmingham City match where Eduardo suffered his broken leg and William Gallas threw his tantrum. They limped towards the finish of the 2007-2008 season, famously losing out on the Premiership title and the Champions League in the same week. Their hangover has seemed to carry over into this season.
After an underwhelming win against West Brom, Arsenal lost to Fulham last week and were exposed for their lack of depth in midfield and their inability to finish in the box. After losing Mathieu Flamini, Alex Hleb, and Gilberto Silva, Arsenal were already unsettled in midfield even before the season started. With early season injuries to Cesc Fabregas and Tomas Rosicky, Arsene Wenger has had to employ a patchwork midfield that has clearly affected the team’s ability to create scoring chances. The famously frugal Wenger has even toyed with the idea of bringing in some reinforcements before the closing of the transfer window.
Still, Arsenal fans can rejoice in that Cesc Fabregas has returned to action and should be available. Robin Van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor have yet to get going, but Samir Nasri has played well, scoring the lone Arsenal goal of the season thus far, as well as finding net in the club’s midweek Champions League qualifier against Twente Enschede. In fact, Arsenal’s 4-0 victory against Steve McLaren’s side might be exactly what the Gunners need to get going.
Will Michael Owen and Newcastle continue their surprising early season form? Will Arsenal play up to their potential? Will William Gallas throw another tantrum? Tune in to find out!
Arsenal Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas (c), Clichy, Eboue, Fabregas, Denilson Nasri, Adebayor, van Persie
Subs: Fabianski, Vela, Walcott, Ramsey, Song, Djourou, Bendtner
No surprises for Arsenal. Fabregas will make his season debut after proving his fitness during the midweek Champions League qualifier against Twente. As such, Walcott will drop to the bench to accommodate Fabregas. Eboue continues to start in midfield, even though most Arsenal fans think he’s useless. We have yet to see teenage starlet Aaron Ramsey in action in the Premiership. Could today be the day?
Newcastle Given, Beye, Taylor, Coloccini, Enrqiue, N’Zogbia, Guthrie, Butt, Jonas, Ameobi, Owen (c)
Subs: Harper, Bassong, Barton, Edgar, Tozer, Donaldson, Ranger
As expected, Owen will make his first start of the season and will be paired with Ameobi up front. New acquisitions Coloccini and Jonas (I know his name is Gutierrez, but his jersey says Jonas, so let’s go with that) will start as well. The big news, obviously, is Joey Barton’s return to the team. Good to see him back in a Newcastle uniform and not in a prison uniform. Alan Smith has been dropped completely, which is probably for the best if you’re a Newcastle fan.
90′ + 3 There’s the whistle, and, mercifully, this one is over. Some extracurricular stuff as Captain Gallas starts jawing with Keegan. Take the win gracefully, William. Oh well. Thanks to everyone who followed along. Check in tomorrow as I’ll be live-blogging Liverpool/Aston Villa.
90′ + 2 Nasri gets a yellow card, presumably for his foul on Barton. I bet Arsene Wenger will scream bloody murder about Barton’s foul and then claim not to have seen Nasri’s retaliation. Still, can’t blame him for retaliating. Barton deserved to get knocked down.
90′ + 1 Nasri gets his revenge as he trips Barton up when he tries to make a run into the box. N’Zogbia with the long-range effort, but that’s not going to threaten Almunia’s clean sheet. Walcott makes a good run down the right. He sends it to Vela, who’s at the top of the box. Vela slips a little and can’t get his shot off.
90′ Appropriately, his first touch is a foul on Nasri. He slid in late and threw an elbow towards Nasri’s groin for good measure. He even smirks at Nasri for good measure. What a punk! He makes Pacman Jones look like a choirboy.
89′ Here comes Joey Barton for Newcastle. I wonder what kind of reception he’ll get. He’s on for Jonas, who was one of the few Newcastle players who played well today. Also, Edgar comes on for Beye.
88′ Adebayor passes it to Walcott again. Walcott tries to return it, but it’s too hard for Adebayor to handle. Well, give credit to Adebayor. He wants that goal, but he’s not playing selfishly.
86′ Jonas tries to get free down the right flank, but stout defending from Clichy. Arsenal on the break as Fabregas with a backheel to Adebayor. Adebayor is at the top of the box, but he unselfishly lays it off to Walcott on his right. Given comes out and forces Walcott to take a tough angle, and it’s off target. Given saved that goal. That goal was going to go on Walcott’s audition tape to Capello.
85′ Newcastle fans are headed to the exits. Can’t blame them.
83′ Nasri tries to play it through to Adebayor, but he’s called offsides. He’s really trying to get that goal.
82′ Vela makes a great run into the box, but he’s in pretty deep and runs out of room. He’s a quick one, though.
81′ Nasri curls it around the wall, but Given makes a great save to concede the corner. Fabregas whips in the corner. Gallas heads it to the far post, but N’Zogbia is there to knock it away. It goes to Adebayor, who chests it down and tries to volley it in, but he can’t get any power on it and Given catches it easily.
80′ Adebayor tries to take on three Newcastle defenders and makes his way into the box. He tries to get around Taylor, but Taylor holds his ground and Adebayor goes to the ground. Ref gives Arsenal a free kick on the edge of the box.
79′ Butt wins the ball and sends it to N’Zogbia. His cross is blocked into the air, but Guthrie gets it. He sends it back to Butt and gives it to N’Zogbia. N’Zogbia shoots from distance and Almunia makes the save.
76′ Butt tries to lift a pass into the box for Owen, but Gallas heads it away. Patrick Vieira is in the stands. Why isn’t he in Milan with his teammates?
75′ Fabregas sends in the corner, but Newcastle clear it.
74′ On the corner, Toure has a free header that goes right to Given. Otherwise, it could have been 4-0. That’s three good chances for Toure today. Newcastle knock it out again for another corner.
73′ Walcott immediately makes a great run towards the goal. He flicks to Vela and Vela goes for the shot, but it’s deflected out for the corner.
72′ Here comes Walcott for Eboue.
71′ Walcott is coming on, which is understandable. He has to impress Capello, after all.
70′ Clichy steals it from Beye and he tries a long-range shot that Given saves. That seemed to catch Given off-guard a little, but he still made the save comfortably.
69′ Alex Song is coming on for Denilson.
68′ Long pass to Owen again, his first touch is poor, though, and Almunia controls it.
67′ Long pass to Owen in the box. Owen tries to get past Toure, but Toure outmuscles him. It goes out off Owen for a goal kick.
66′ Adebayor in the box and he gives it away to Jonas. Jonas then gets fouled outside the box.
64′ Fabregas sends an enticing cross towards the far post, but Newcastle clear it from danger.
63′ Van Persie is off and Vela is on. I was hoping they would bring in Bendtner so that he and Adebayor would start glaring at each other, but no dice. Corner is cleared away by Newcastle, but Adebayor gets it back and is fouled by Beye on the edge of the box.
62′ Nasri with the long-range effort that Taylor deflects out for the corner.
61′ Van Persie with another opportunity. He shoots from a terrible angle deep on the left side of the box, but manages to hit the post. Now he’s favoring his ankle again.
59′ GOAL! Newcastle give it away in their own half and Arsenal go on the attack. Van Persie has a chance and goes for goal, but Beye is there to knock it out for the corner. On the corner, Van Persie plays it short to Fabregas again, who whips it in, but it’s taken by Given. Arsenal get it back and Nasri makes a break into the box. He sends it out to Toure, who finds an open Denilson to his right. He plays him through, and Denilson beats Given for the score. Well, that will make the Emirates faithful forget about Flamini.
57′ Guthrie with the shot from the edge of the box that forces Almunia to make a diving save. Now Newcastle are knocking on the door.
56′ Jonas whips a great cross into the box to Owen, but its over his head. Sagna has to knock it out for the corner. On the corner, Nicky Butt heads it towards goal and he hits the crossbar.
55′ Jonas tries to get past Denilson on the right flank, but Denilson holds his ground and takes it away.
54′ Van Persie whips the corner into the box, but Newcastle clear it away.
53′ Sagna sends one into the box, but it’s deflected out for a corner.
52′ Fabregas with a late tackle on Beye that could have really hurt him. He gets booked and Given gets one too for talking to the ref in violation of the Respect policy. Rash challenge from Fabregas. He really needs to work on his temper, but it should come with maturity.
51′ Given plays with fire as he dribbles around in the box and shakes van Persie out of his boots. He gets past Fabregas too and boots it away. Fabregas gets it back and passes it to Clichy deep in the box. Clichy is tackled by Beye and goes down to try and draw the penalty. No dice, though.
50′ Good ball movement from Newcastle as they try to build up something. Guthrie goes down on the right flank, and it looks like he went down pretty easily. N’Zogbia wastes the free kick as he boots it into the seats. Terrible.
48′ Long ball from Arsenal and Adebayor nearly gets past the defense, but Coloccini is just there to knock it away from danger.
47′ He’s jogging off the pitch, so he looks like he’ll be okay.
46′ Arsenal kick off and we’re underway! We already have an injury as van Persie is down for Arsenal. That’s got to make Arsenal fans sick to their stomachs. He’s been the best player on the pitch today. Looks like he got tangled up with Nicky Butt. Oh, the irony.
46′ Correction, Owen was ruled to be offsides on that header right before the halftime whistle. So there you go.
Well, when Arsenal have things going, they are a joy to watch. They’ve run circles around Newcastle, dominating possession, passing with impunity, and generating multiple chances on goal. Newcastle seem content sitting back, which is strange, given the success Fulham had in pressurizing the Arsenal midfielders last week (although, it should be noted that Fabregas missed that game). It should probably be 3-0 or 4-0 right now. Newcastle will have a lot of adjustments to make if they want to get back into this game. It’s not all bad news for them, though. Owen came close on two opportunities. They just need one goal and they’re back in this game.
45′ + 1 On the free kick Guthrie sends a deep pass into the box to Owen, who heads it on target that forces a great save from Almunia. Looks like Arsenal fell asleep there. Owen’s made his living getting on the end of those passes. Ref awards the goal kick, even though I thought it should have been a corner. As such, Almunia sends it away and there’s the whistle.
45′ Denilson fouls Jonas to give Newcastle a free kick.
44′ Bassong is on to replace Enrique.
42′ Jose Enrique is off the pitch, favoring his hamstring. Just what Arsenal need. A man advantage.
41′ GOAL! Eboue makes a good run into the box. He passes to Adebayor, who’s running down the right. Adebayor sends it back to Eboue, who slips a little and looks like he’s going to blow it again. But he recovers and backheels to van Persie, who’s trailing the play. Van Persie then calmly puts it past Given for his second goal of the day. I’ve been harsh on Eboue, so I have to give him credit where it’s due. That was great awareness from him to backheel that to van Persie.
38′ Back the other way and Fabregas with a great touch to van Persie, who then taps it through to Adebayor. Adebayor’s got a clear path to goal, but he shoots it wide. Should have been 2-0 there.
37′ Eboue gives it away to Jonas and Jonas sends a great cross into the box that has goal written all over it for Owen. Ameobi gets in his way, though, and Owen can’t put it past Almunia. That was Newcastle’s best chance of the afternoon.
36′ Ameobi tries to find Owen in the box, but the ball is behind Owen.
35′ Butt plays a good through-ball to Beye in the box. Nasri is there to take it away, though. Van Persie uses a fancy move to try and get around Enrique. Enrique isn’t amused, though, and gets it to spring the Newcastle counterattack. A little early to start showboating, Robin. By the way, this is the squad that got angry when Nani showboated during the dying minutes of a 4-0 match last year.
32′ Corner is cleared out of the box, but Arsenal get it back. Adebayor gets it and finds Toure in the box. Toure with the shot, and it’s wide of the post. Wow, that’s two close shots by Toure.
31′ Van Persie makes another great move on the edge of the box and he is fouled. Another great chance for Arsenal here. Van Persie and Nasri are standing over the ball. Van Persie with a great strike that goes over the wall, but Given makes a great save for the corner.
30′ Great chance for Arsenal here as they have a free kick right on the edge of the box. Fabregas takes it and it’s into the wall.
29′ Van Persie with a great through-ball to Adebayor. Coloccini taps Adebayor’s ankle, and he gets booked. I don’t know about that. Looks like he barely touched him.
28′ N’Zogbia lifts the free kick into the box, hoping to find someone. No dice as Newcastle get called for the foul.
27′ Nasri fouls Guthrie from behind and Newcastle has a free kick from about 30 yards out or so.
26′ Great flick by van Persie to a streaking Nasri. Nasri sends it into the box for Adebayor, and it’s just out of his reach. Given tracks it down and clears it away.
25′ Nasri sends it to Fabregas, and he unleashes a long-range shot that is way over the bar. Meanwhile, the camera pans to Mikael Silvestre, who recently transferred over from Manchester United. In other news, Hell has frozen over.
24′ N’Zogbia on the attack again, but he gets surrounded by red shirts and loses the ball. Newcastle just can’t build anything up.
22′ N’Zogbia tries to make a move into the box, but Fabregas with a great defensive play to take it away.
21′ Sign of life from Newcastle as Jose Enrique gets into the box and forces Sagna to make a great defensive play.
20′ Arsenal on the attack again, Eboue sends it to Adebayor. Eboue gets it back on the right wing and sends in a terrible cross that goes out for a throw. See? It isn’t all good news for Arsenal. They still have Eboue stinking up the joint.
18′ GOAL! Van Persie steps up to take the penalty and calmly puts it past Given to his left. Well, Arsenal deserve to be up. Can’t argue with it.
17′ Lots of passing by Arsenal. Nasri inadvertently lays it off to van Persie, which is actually probably a good thing since van Persie is unmarked. He goes for the shot, and it’s off Coloccini for a corner. On the corner, it goes out to Adebayor, and he makes a great move into the box by beating Beye off the dribble. He tries to cross and it hits N’Zogbia’s hand. It’s a penalty.
16′ Newcastle actually make their way into Arsenal territory. Butt gives it away, though. So much for that.
15′ Fabio Capello is in the house. Apparently, Almunia wants to be England’s #1. Why not? He’s not going to sniff the Spanish squad anytime soon. Think about it. Pepe Reina’s been one of the top goalkeepers in the world over the last few years, and is clearly superior to Almunia. Reina’s their #3 goalkeeper. Almunia might not even be in the top 5 for Spain.
13′ N’Zogbia with a terrible cross into the box from the left flank. There wasn’t anyone in the area, other than Toure. Maybe N’Zogbia had a temporary bout of colorblindness.
12′ Arsenal have a 65%-35% edge in possession. Really? I thought it was closer to 75%-25%. Jonas finally takes the ball from Nasri and tries to make a break for it, but Nasri brings him down for the foul.
10′ Good movement from Arsenal as Denilson plays it to Nasri, who gives it to Clichy, who finds Toure in the box. Jonas with some good defensive work to stop him from shooting.
9′ Van Persie tries a long-range effort and it’s a little optimistic. Given handles it easily.
8′ Fabregas sends it in and Adebayor has a great chance as he’s free on the header. He doesn’t hit it cleanly, though, and Newcastle control it. Owen gets his first touch deep down the right flank, but Gallas and Clichy take it away.
7′ van Persie plays it short to Fabregas. Fabregas sends it back and van Persie sends it to the far post. Newcastle do a better job this time and they clear it away from danger. Arsenal reset and Nasri makes a great move on Jonas down the left flank. Beye has to intervene and knocks it out for a corner.
6′ Clichy whips a corner into the box, but its deflected out for a throw. Toure then tries a long-distance shot, and it’s forces Given to make a great save to his left. Corner to Arsenal.
4′ It’s early, but Arsenal already looks better than they did last week. They’re passing well and their offense is flowing.
3′ Corner is deflected out, so they reset. on the reset, Gallas has a great chance at the far post. He’s completely unmarked and just has to tap it in. He hits it over the bar, though, and he’s in disbelief. Should have scored there.
2′ Arsenal on the attack. After some fancy passing, Fabregas sends a great through-ball to van Persie who is deep in the box. Coloccini takes him down and it looks like it should have been a penalty, but no dice. It’s a corner to Arsenal.
1′ Newcastle will kick off and here we go! Rob Styles is our referee.
0′ Here they come out of the tunnel. I love Almunia’s pornstache, btw.
0′ If I were a Newcastle fan (and I’m not, btw), I would be very apprehensive about Kevin Keegan’s statement concerning Michael Owen. It certainly sounded like he was resigned to losing him, either in the January or at the end of the season. I certainly understand why Newcastle doesn’t want to pay him the same wages, considering all of Owen’s health problems. Still, if Owen produces on the field, then they have to show him the money, right? Either way, Owen’s got a lot to play for these next few months. England recall, new contract. That’s a lot of incentive. And pressure.
0′ Welcome to the liveblog everyone! I’m Victor and I’ll be your liveblogger. We should be in for a great match today.
Looks like rumors of Arsenal’s demise were greatly exaggerated. Arsenal played so well today that it’s hard to believe that they lost to Fulham last week. I guess one player, in this case Fabregas, really does make a difference. Arsenal finally played the kind of free-flowing football that worked so well for them last season. Robin van Persie was dominant until leaving with an injury, while Nasri continued to impress for his new team. The defense was stout and didn’t look in danger of giving up a goal. If Arsenal can keep this up, then they could win multiple trophies this year.
As for Newcastle, they came crashing back to earth as their lack of creativity on offense was exposed and their midfielders were badly outplayed by their counterparts. Michael Owen didn’t get any kind of service today, as his midfielders did him no favors. It’s hard to take any solace from this match, except for the fact that Given looked like a world class keeper at times. They have some money after selling Millner to Aston Villa. Kevin Keegan and Co. will have to go shopping if they want to continue their good start. They should also improve once Martins, Viduka, Geremi, and Duff get healthy. Still, they have a lot to work on this week as they were completely outclassed.
Man of the Match:
Robin van Persie
Before he left with an injury, I said van Persie had been the best player on the pitch. I’ll stick with that statement here. He scored twice, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Van Persie linked up perfectly with Fabregas and generated multiple chances for his teammates and for himself. His skill on set pieces was also evident as his corners and free kicks resulted in a number of scoring opportunities. Arsene Wenger is convinced that if van Persie hadn’t gotten hurt last season, then Arsenal would have won the Premiership. I’m not sure if I buy that, but you can see why he values van Persie so much. With displays like the one today, it’s hard to name a better young forward than van Persie. Too bad he’s brittle.