Arsenal eventually dragged out a 1-0 victory at St James’ Park today after the home side played 74 minutes with 10 men. The Gunners dominated the game, firing in 22 shots in all, nine on target, but relied on a deflection on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s effort for the game’s only goal.
Seven points are now on the board but Arsène Wenger may be concerned by the lack of goals his side have scored. It’s three in four matches and two of them have been own goals.
Here’s a look at the players who did well and not so well for each side today:
Moved into the number 10 role this weekend due to an injury to Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey is so much more productive in the middle. Whilst Newcastle had the majority of their team behind the ball for 90 minutes, the Welsh midfielder was able to set up a few chances for his teammates and get some shots in on goal.
It was Ramsey’s effort that Krul could only parry away which fell into the path of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain whose effort deflected off Fabricio Coloccini for the game’s only goal.
With the midfield talent at Arsène Wenger’s disposal, it’s hard to see where the Gunners boss can get Özil, Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere all into the starting lineup each week.
Arsenal had 69% of the possession this afternoon and it felt like Santi Cazorla was on the ball all day in the middle of the park. The Spaniard dictated the game but may be disappointed not to have been involved in a goal today, either for himself or teammates.
Cazorla created some chances for his teammates and looked after the ball well. A couple of his crosses found teammates and his forced two saves out of Tim Krul too.
The playmaker is certainly more productive in this role than when Wenger used to play him out wide and is also Arsenal’s best player at controlling a game from this role.
Newcastle United winners
The Dutch goalkeeper made a number of saves last weekend as he frustrated Manchester United in a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford. This weekend, Tim Krul made a further few saves, including Olivier Giroud one-on-one with the final chance of the game. He could do nothing about Arsenal’s opener which saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s effort deflected off Fabricio Coloccini to go in at the far post.
Krul made eight saves last weekend and nine this time around. Whilst Newcastle won’t be facing UEFA Champions League teams every week, their goalkeeper will certainly be hoping for his defence to step it up in the future.
Newcastle are winless in four games under Steve McClaren now and things could look a lot worse without their goalkeeper’s performances.
Has the making of a great defender for Newcastle based on his performances over the past two weeks. Chancel Mbemba was moved to right-back last weekend to cover for the suspended Dary Janmaat and did an excellent job on Memphis Depay after being torn apart for the opening 20 minutes.
This weekend, Theo Walcott’s best effort came after the goalkeeper spilled a long-range short, and his replacement, Olivier Giroud, only really saw an effort in the final seconds when Newcastle were pushing up.
Chancel Mbemba and Fabricio Coloccini otherwise did a good job defusing the Arsenal attack whom were camped in their half for the majority of the match.
First start up front since the FA Community Shield, Theo Walcott was virtually anonymous aside from missing two sitters. The first came from seven yards with only Tim Krul to beat from a cutback but he failed to connect properly with the ball. Later, after Tim Krul spilled Alexis Sánchez’s long-range effort Walcott put the rebound into the side netting.
Olivier Giroud replaced the England international for the final 20 minutes and was much more involved after entering the field. Mind you, the French striker’s finishing was no better.
Arsenal have two weeks until their next game for manager Arsène Wenger to decide who starts up front versus Stoke City after the international break. Or does he have enough time to bring in a top class striker before the end of the transfer window on Tuesday?
Whilst the England international was involved in the goal, it came with a bit of luck and that was quite literally everything Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was involved in during his 80 minutes today.
With Aaron Ramsey forced to move into the middle, the youngster was recalled to the starting lineup today, matching up with Massadio Haïdara who had a solid game at left-back for the home side.
Oxlade-Chamberlain failed to pick out a teammate with any of his crosses, lost possession a few times and didn’t hit the target with either of his efforts. Arsenal could have done with more success down the wings today to stretch the Newcastle defence and make the result much more comfortable than it was given the situation.
Newcastle United losers
It’s been a colourful start to life in black and white for Aleksandar Mitrović who was sent off after only 16 minutes for a stamp on Francis Coquelin today. The replay from one angle shows his eyes looking at the midfielder’s leg as his foot came down on him.
Mitrović has collected two yellow cards and one red card in his four appearances that total 138 minutes since his £13 million move from Anderlecht in the summer. Changed the game completely for Steve McClaren’s side who had struggled to see much of the ball in the opening quarter of an hour as it was.
Given that they only lost 1-0 due to a deflected goal, Newcastle can only imagine how many points they could have got from this game if they had kept 11 men on the field for 90 minutes. His suspension will give Papiss Cissé or Ayoze Pérez a chance after the international break.
The new Newcastle boss wasn’t given an easy fixture list to start life at St James’ Park when he took on the poison chalice of a job. He’s been let down by two players in particular in his opening four matches having seen both Daryl Janmaat and Mitrović foolishly sent off in the first half.
Credit for his side getting a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford and a 2-2 with Southampton on the opening day didn’t seem such a result. However, two points for Newcastle fans isn’t enough as they seemingly expect their team to be winning the league after four games given their reaction and the previous treatment of Alan Pardew.
Chants of ‘sacked in the morning’ from some of the home fans rang out at full-time.