Arsenal’s perfect home record this season came to an end against the meanest defence in the Premier League as Newcastle held out for a 0-0 draw.
Eddie Howe’s side were resolute throughout and did whatever they could to kill the speed of the game, preventing Arsenal from finding their flow.
Arsenal had a glorious chance just a few minutes in as a scramble in the box fell to Martin Odegaard who, surprisingly, couldn’t control his strike and lashed high and wide.
Nick Pope then had to get down low to deny Bukayo Saka, before Granit Xhaka hit the side netting and scuffed another effort from inside the box, with Arsenal starting the game at a really high tempo.
Newcastle did a fantastic job of slowing things down, however, ending the onslaught on their goal and forcing Arsenal into plenty of long periods of slow possession. The Gunners managed just one shot on target before the break, as did the visitors.
The yellow cards started coming thick and fast as things got pretty heated – three for yellow and two for Newcastle in the first 45 – while VAR had to chime in to wave away Newcastle’s penalty shout as a furious Dan Burn felt he was pushed late in the half.
The second half began with a similar tone. Arsenal pushed hard for an opener but Newcastle continued to repel their advances and rarely looked too uncomfortable doing so.
The Magpies slowed the game down at every possible opportunity, playing for free-kicks and trying to run the clock down, with Arsenal and the home supporters clearly growing frustrated.
Gabriel Martinelli’s flick-on from a corner went agonisingly wide of the post ten minutes from time, with Arsenal still struggling to get any real sights of goal. With three minutes to go, Eddie Nketiah had the best look of all as he found an inch of space in the box, but his low strike was kept out by the foot of Nick Pope.
Arsenal were screaming for a penalty with the last kick of the game as Martinelli’s cross appeared to hit the arm of Jacob Murphy, but neither the referee nor VAR were interested, and the game petered out with some nice touchline drama from Howe and Mikel Arteta.
GK: Aaron Ramsdale – 6/10 – Didn’t really have much to do apart from apologise from a sloppy error early in the second half.
RB: Ben White – 7/10 – Had a fun battle with Joelinton and was his usual calm self on the ball.
CB: William Saliba – 6/10 – Still not looking himself. Didn’t really do anything wrong but seems to be half a step behind the play these days.
CB: Gabriel – 7/10 – Nearly buried a header in the first half and looked the more comfortable of the two defenders.
LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko – 5/10 – Stayed far too wide in the first half which left him very isolated from the play. Too wasteful in possession.
DM: Thomas Partey – 5/10 – Struggled to get things going against Newcastle’s press. Too negative on the ball.
CM: Granit Xhaka – 5/10 – Clearly frustrated with a nasty challenge in the first half that deserved the yellow card it got. Felt a bit like an old Xhaka performance.
CM: Martin Odegaard – 5/10 – Not really involved as much as he wanted to be because Newcastle marked him out of the game.
RW: Bukayo Saka – 6/10 – Similarly, hounded every time he got on the ball. Grew into the game as the clock ticked on.
ST: Eddie Nketiah – 5/10 – Struggled to find space in the box but did have some nice moments trying to lead a counter.
LW: Gabriel Martinelli – 5/10 – Another who put in a shift but was always outnumbered. Not a lot he could have done really.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (75′ for White) – 6/10 – Not a whole lot to do as Arsenal pushed for a winner but did make a nice cut-out to block a late chance which would have been wiped out for offside anyway.
Mikel Arteta – 5/10 – Arsenal were the better team on the ball but Arsenal had a really tough time of trying to break Newcastle down and Arteta obviously couldn’t figure out how to fix that. Visibly wound up on the touchline.
GK: Nick Pope – 6/10 – Had to weather a bit of a storm early on but didn’t actually have that much to do.
RB: Kieran Trippier – 7/10 – A fantastic defensive job to keep Martinelli quiet, but still managed to find the time to impact the game in attack.
CB: Fabian Schar – 8/10 – Another impactful performance at the back. Kept his positioning perfectly and stopped Nketiah from finding any space in the box.
CB: Sven Botman – 7/10 – Composed on and off the ball. Had to be switched on from the first minute until the last and didn’t disappoint.
LB: Dan Burn – 5/10 – Unsurprisingly struggled against the agile Saka but did enough as part of a two-man team against the winger.
DM: Bruno Guimaraes – 6/10 – Was responsible for pressing Partey and did a good job of stopping the Arsenal man from getting into his groove. Struggled with the same treatment from Arsenal, however.
CM: Sean Longstaff – 6/10 – Decent on the defensive end but his reluctance to get involved in attack was a bit of a problem for the Magpies.
CM: Joe Willock – 7/10 – His energy was immense as he doubled back to help out defensively. A really impressive work rate.
RW: Miguel Almiron – 5/10 – Did try to get involved but Newcastle didn’t have too many chances to run and Almiron was limited as a result.
ST: Callum Wilson – 4/10 – Seemingly most interested in winning free-kicks and running the clock down.
LW: Joelinton – 7/10 – Some sensational defensive work to try and help out against Saka. Probably should’ve scored in the first half as well.
Chris Wood (68′ for Wilson) – 5/10 – Didn’t really get involved either.
Jacob Murphy (68′ for Almiron) – 5/10 – Murphy entering the game ahead of Allan Saint-Maximin tells you everything you need to know about Newcastle’s tactics here.
Allan Saint-Maximin (87′ for Willock) – N/A
Eddie Howe – 8/10 – Clearly set out to frustrate and slow Arsenal down and got that exact performance from his players. Perhaps needed to figure out more in attack but evidently came for a point and got that.