Newcastle United end Arsenal’s unbeaten run in chaotic contest
Arsenal’s Premier League unbeaten run comes to an excruciating end in a 1-0 loss to Newcastle United at St James’ Park.
Arsenal‘s unbeaten run in the 2023-24 Premier League season came to an end in excruciating circumstances as Mikel Arteta‘s men fell to a 1-0 loss to Newcastle United in a chaotic St James’ Park battle.
Anthony Gordon‘s second-half strike proved the difference, although the ex-Everton man’s finish was only one of a plethora of controversial moments in the North East, where the Gunners were made to pay for a total lack of killer instinct throughout the 90 minutes against Eddie Howe‘s well-drilled defence.
Martin Odegaard‘s absence from the squad dominated the Arsenal team news headlines, while former Gunners midfielder Joe Willock was demoted to the bench against his old club despite his exploits against Manchester United in midweek.
Neither goalkeeper had to get their gloves dirty very often in the first half, which Arsenal just about shaded, but the offside flag spared the Gunners’ blushes when Callum Wilson fired over the bar from a couple of yards out on the half-hour mark.
A few unpunished challenges saw tempers begin to flare, though, and a rancid Kai Havertz lunge on Sean Longstaff led to a sea of black and white shirts storming to confront the German, who cut an unbothered figure as the yellow card was brandished.
Incensed Newcastle players could not believe that Stuart Attwell did not send Havertz for an early bath, and no fewer than three of them – Longstaff, Fabian Schar and Gordon – also entered the book for their protestations.
However, the Magpies certainly got away with a few moments later, as Bruno Guimaraes‘s apparent elbow into the head of Jorginho went unpunished, and the hot-headed Brazilian also blasted the ball into Havertz’s back before both sides entered the changing rooms for a well-earned breather.
While Arteta decided not to haul Havertz off during the break, Newcastle were forced into an alteration, as Dan Burn had tweaked his back in an awkward fall and was replaced by Tino Livramento for the second period.
The scrappiness did not cease after the restart, but Arsenal did come close in the 62nd minute as Kieran Trippier headed a Gabriel Martinelli cross to a surging Declan Rice, whose header from the edge of the box fizzed wide.
Just one minute after Rice’s miss, Newcastle would finally draw first blood in highly contentious circumstances, as Jacob Murphy‘s wayward shot was just about kept in play by Willock, whose cross flew over David Raya‘s outstretched arm and onto the head of Joelinton, who knocked the ball down for Gordon to fire in from a yard out.
Newcastle’s elation was briefly halted by no fewer than three VAR checks, but it was determined that Willock only just prevented the ball from going out, while Joelinton was not adjudged to have fouled Gabriel Magalhaes, despite having two hands on his compatriot’s back.
Finally, Gordon was given the all-clear in an offside check as the celebrations restarted, much to Arsenal’s bemusement, although the visitors were punished for going to sleep as Willock chased down Murphy’s wild strike.
The latter certainly played an unorthodox part in the opener, but his race was cruelly run in the 78th minute, having appeared to suffer a recurrence of the dislocated shoulder he had only just recovered from.
Numerous set-pieces came and went for the Gunners, as Newcastle easily dealt with several poor corners to inflict the Gunners’ first defeat of the league season upon them, leaving Tottenham Hotspur as the only team without a loss to their name this term.
With Manchester City thumping Bournemouth earlier in the day, Arsenal have dropped to third ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Sevilla, while Newcastle – who take on Borussia Dortmund a day earlier – stay sixth.
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