Arsenal ran out 1-0 winners over Newcastle at St James’ Park thanks to an own goal and a lot of help from referee Andre Marriner in a match full of controversy.
Andre Marriner had an awful game in what turned out to be a pretty poor match in truth. Marriner booked six, that’s SIX, Newcastle players and showed them one straight red card when he sent off Aleksandar Mitrovic in the 16th minute for a horribly mistimed tackle on Francis Coquelin that saw him end up stamping on his opponent’s shin.
Harsh perhaps but understandable.
However it wasn’t the first big decision that Marriner had to make and there can be no arguments that he got the first one wrong when he failed to award Arsenal a penalty. Hector Bellerin ran into the box to get onto the end of an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pass but Florian Thauvin stood on his heel bringing him down. The officials didn’t see the contact, but the way Bellerin went down probably didn’t help. Still a blatant penalty not given.
The only real highlight of the first half was Theo Walcott blasting the ball high and wide from just a few yards out after he latched onto the ball after Tim Krul could only manage to parry a long-range effort from Alexis Sanchez.
With all the talk about Walcott wanting to be a striker, he needed to do better with that chance. It should have at least been on target.
The breakthrough came early in the second half when Fabricio Coloccini deflected Oxlade-Chamberlain’s shot, that looked to be going wide, past his own keeper.
The rest of the match saw Arsenal dominating possession and creating chance after chance but failing to get the breakthrough they needed thanks to good defending and good goalkeeping from Newcastle.
Newcastle are at least showing some fight and determination unlike last season under Alan Pardew, but Steve McClaren will want them to take a step back. Having so many players on yellow cards and going down to 10 men makes their job on the pitch that much harder.
As for Arsenal they clearly need a new striker. Walcott isn’t a striker, that much is clear, and Giroud can’t do it alone all season. They created 22 chances in this game, nine on target, but it still took an own goal for them to get the three points. There is no point creating so much if they don’t have the players who can finish them.