WTTGT Reporter: Tashan Deniran-Alleyne
Newcastle 0 – 0 Arsenal
Arsenal kicked off their Barclays Premier League campaign with a goalless draw away at Newcastle which saw Gervinho sent off on his Arsenal debut, as the absence of Cesc Fabregas was sorely missed.
The starting line-up saw Tomas Rosicky slot into the Spaniards role as the chief playmaker, with new signing Gervinho making his competitive debut. It gave Gunner fans a glimpse of what the future could bring without Cesc and Samir Nasri.
The first half was typical of Arsenal; dominate possession, but struggling when it comes to the final third with the main culprits being Gervinho and van Persie. It took only a minute for them to fashion the first chance of the game with Rosicky sending a weak shot wide of the post.
As the half progressed, the brightest spark on the pitch was Gervinho as he looked threatening down both wings but his final ball lacked at crucial times. Jonas Gutierrez tried to lift the home crowd towards the end of the half but sent his volley well wide.
Van Persie spurned another half chance as the first half ended on level terms, though Arsenal were clearly the better team they failed to make their dominance count, sound familiar?
The second half produced a more heated affair highlighted by two major flashpoints which could take their toll on Arsenal in the next few weeks as Alex Song appeared to stamp on Joey Barton, an incident missed by the officials but the FA will surely punish the midfielder.
The next heated moment of controversy saw Barton and Gervinho get in to a confrontation which resulted in the Ivorian raising his hands therefore rightly getting sent-off, yet the instigator – the Newcastle number 7 – was only showed the yellow card much to the dismay of the Arsenal players.
As the game petered out Gibbs failed to pick out van Persie as Arsenal missed the chance to snatch all three points on the break.
A draw away at Newcastle is hardly a bad result, but with huge forthcoming games against Liverpool and Manchester United, coupled with the likelihood that they will be without both Song and Gervinho, a difficult month appears even tougher on and off the pitch.