Sunday, 14 August 2011

Arsenal Draw 0-0 Away To Newcastle In Premier League Opener.

Arsenal got the new Premier League season underway yesterday with an evening trip to Newcastle United. Despite dominating for almost the entire game Arsenal failed to turn the possession into real goal chances, as the creativity of Cesc Fabregas was badly missed. The game ended scoreless, but it certainly wasn't without it's controversial moments.

It's hardly surprising that Newcastle's Joey Barton was at the centre of those controversies and he showed his true colours in the aftermath of the Gervinho penalty incident. If the referee saw exactly what happened he had to send Gervinho off, as he raised his hand to Barton and gave him a mild slap. However, Barton instigated the matter by grabbing Gervinho and pulling him up after he had gone down looking for a penalty, and that in itself had to be a penalty also.

I thought the original challenge on Gervinho could easily have been a penalty, as there was some contact and I've often seen similar penalties given. It would have been a soft penalty to give, and I wouldn't have been happy if it had gone against Arsenal at the other end. The fact remains that the referee didn't give the penalty and Barton saw fit to seek retribution for what he saw as a dive by Gervinho.

The referee was far away from the incident when the trouble broke out and I cannot believe that he actually saw what Gervinho did. Barton was quick to tell all that he had been punched and Stephen Taylor claimed an elbow had in fact been used, but both players showed themselves up as liars. Did they both really think that television replays would not show what had actually happened, and make referees less inclined to believe them in future.

With one linesman at least 60 yards away on the touchline and the other linesman on the opposite side of the pitch I can only assume the red card was issued because the referee believed the accounts of those Newcastle players. The standard of refereeing has being getting steadily worse and it's not a good indicator when it is so poor in the first game of the new season. Barton escaped with a yellow card despite deserving a red one, and Arsenal had to finish the game with 10 players.

To be honest Arsenal could have actually finished the game with nine men, as Alex Song got away with a stamp on Barton earlier in the game. The chances are the FA will take retrospective action and Song will also have to sit out Arsenal's next three domestic games along with Gervinho. The first two of those games are against Liverpool and Manchester United and Arsenal are quickly running out of players to play in them.

I wasn't exactly happy to see Song stamp on Barton as it was a stupid thing to do, but he should have at least done it properly if he's going to get punished for it. It was a very half hearted stamp and I doubt very much if Barton felt much from it at all. Even more annoying for me was to see Arsenal players hugging Barton when the game was over when in fact they should have being remonstrating with him.

Barton had done his best to fool the referee into believing that Gervinho had punched him, and any Arsenal player with any degree of loyalty to his teammates should have been incredibly angry with his actions. Why were they so happy to forget his actions which had possibly cost Arsenal two points, and certainly deprived them of Gervinho for three games. Barton is a despicable bully who will try anything he can to ensure he triumphs, and he showed how "hard" he really is by falling to the ground from the mildest of slaps from Gervinho.

He has since admitted that he made the most of the incident, but he sees no wrong in doing so as he perceived Gervinho as a cheat. Gervinho made the most of the foul on him, but the logic of that is lost on the likes of Barton. Hopefully his performance yesterday will convince Arsenal fans who wanted the club to sign him that he should never be allowed near the club.

Aside from doing all he could to get Gervinho sent off Barton had absolutely no influence on the game whatsoever, as he was part of a Newcastle team who simply didn't know how to play football. If Arsenal had any confidence at all they would have trashed them, but unfortunately the absence of Cesc and Jack Wilshere left the team with no drive. Time and again the final ball from Arsenal was far too poor, or they over elaborated and allowed Newcastle to clear the danger.

I was hoping for a great performance from Gervinho and at times he looked very dangerous, but his final ball was very poor on almost every occasion. He was joined by almost every attacking Arsenal player in having a mediocre game, but at least the defence looked solid for the entire match. It's not often that any team can go through an entire match with virtually no defensive scares, but Arsenal managed the task relatively easily yesterday.

Wojciech Szczesny was excellent in goal as he controlled his area, as well as coming from his line on each occasion he was required to. Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny looked very composed in the centre of the defence, and the two full backs played very well too. My only problems with the defence were the distribution from Koscielny and Gibbs appearing lost in the opposition half, but most importantly they got their defensive duties correct.

Arsenal's next game is at home to Udinese on Tuesday night in a vital Champions League qualifier, and they will need to play an awful lot better if they are going to take a lead to Italy a week later. Arsene Wenger doesn't have too many options at the moment and it will probably be a very similar team against Udinese to the one that drew with Newcastle. I'm sure Udinese will have more to offer than Newcastle, but I also think they will try to keep things very tight at the back as a draw would be a great result for them.

The transfer sagas of both Cesc and Samir Nasri continue to hang over the club and until their futures are decided it's hard to see the team being able to concentrate on playing. The latest player to be linked with Arsenal is Brazilian midfielder Jadson who plays with Shakhtar Donetsk according to arseblog news. I don't know an awful lot about him, but he's a midfielder and Arsenal are in short supply of them at the moment.

Finally for today this season's Fantasy Premier League is up and running again. My league has over 600 teams in it already, but I will welcome any new teams. Just go to the site and use the code 125540-42785 to join my league when your team is set up.

I'm also running a prediction league which is open to anybody to join too. To join the predictions league just go to the site and set up your predictions. Then use the code F688F-JCO to join my league. I'll update the league table in my predictions every week.

Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter, tumblr and Facebook too. 
That's it for today.

Here's the highlights from yesterday's game with thanks to 101 great goals.

See You Tomorrow.


  1. Hi Mate... nice to get back to your blogs.. I like th enew look its good...

    Cesc going is a bummer and I just can't watch Barca parading him on SSN any more... :-( i can't believe they bought him for 35m then immediately put a 170m buy out clause on him... way to kick us while we are down. Part of me is also very disappointed with Cesc for giving them the leverage to do this to us, but you can see how much it means to him to be back there.

    I really hope we do cash in on Nasri though anyway.. the mercenary... I hope he joins Adebeyor in the realms of a down hill slope...

    If I ever start to blog again, I think I need to also change my blog title now...

  2. Thanks, It's been a long time since you blogged but if you do let me know.
    The whole Cesc saga has been a real obstacle to us this summer and Hooefully we can move on now that it's sorted and add some real quality to the team.