Newcastle United 0 Arsenal 0

When two of your best players are imminently departing the Emirates, and many question your transfer policy, the last thing Arsene Wenger needed was a tough looking fixture away at Newcastle for the season opener. So the 0-0 scoreline would represent something of a foundation in the post Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri era, but for Wenger the agony of seeing Gervinho shown a straight red card after an altercation with, yes you guessed it Joey Barton has only added to the crisis enveloping the Gunners.


In truth, Alex Song was lucky not be red carded himself for a stamp on Barton on the hour mark, an incident that the Premier League may well want to see again. They should also review Gervinho’s red card. The Ivory Coast striker was felled by Chiek Tiote and it looked like a penalty. Barton however pulled Gervinho to his feet, which is inexcusable in itself and then fell like a sack of spuds after Gervinho slapped his head. The Arsenal man cannot do that, but Barton’s behaviour in getting a fellow professional dismissed just about sums up this most controversial of players.


On the game itself, it was Arsenal as you know them. Thomas Rosicky was given the Fabaregas role with Aaron Ramsey showing that he will play a crucial for the Gunners this season. Wenger gave Theo Walcott only a place on the bench, where teenagers Alex Chamberlain and Emmanuel Frimpong also sat. Arsenal passed and moved with their normal brilliance, but as before, no end product, and ‘keeper Tim Krul was hardly troubled.


Gervinho and Arshavin were interchanging flanks, with the former showing us that Premiership defenders will have a tough marking job when they face him. Robin Van Persie saw a early shot deflect for a corner after some good work from Bacary Sagna, as the home side struggled to get any hold on the game.


Laurent Koscielny looked assertive alongside Thomas Vermalen and the France defender was unlucky to see his header cleared off the line by Danny Simpson from a Rosicky corner on the half hour mark. Van Persie was once again asked to attack alone, and he saw a second half free-kick just fly over the Newcastle bar. Walcott replaced Arshavin just past the hour, and saw Krul deny him after Ramsey and Van Persie combined, but there was nothing decisive about this Arsenal performance. Eight minutes from time, Kieran Gibbs header lacked power to find Van Persie in an excellent position with only the ‘keeper to beat, as another fine move came to nothing.


Late substitute Johan Djourou misplaced a pass to Walcott on the break, the chance went begging, which summed up Arsenal’s evening on another controversial night in the north east. Wenger left St. James Park with the now familiar chant ” Spend some ****ing money,” ringing in his ears. If Arsenal are to challenge for honours, then he has to indeed spend some money.