Newcastle 0-0 Arsenal
Rather than give a full review of the match which ended in a stalemate, I think it would make more sense for me to comment on the two main talking points from the game, those being the Alex Song stamp and the Gervinho r,ed card.
Lets start with the stamp, logical as it did happen first. Early in the second half, Alex song was tussling for the ball with the saintly Joey Barton. One thing led to another and suddenly, all that we could see was Barton rolling around the floor in agony, as Arsenal were awarded the free kick. On seeing this, he charged over to the fourth official and started giving it the verbal. But for what? Well there was a strong chance on reflection (and several helpful T.V replays) that Song had stamped on his calf intentionally, an incident that the referee had failed to spot, although he was unsighted. Unfortunately, I can't defend the Arsenal man for this. Although Joey Barton is not necessarily the nicest boy in the playground, there was no need for him to be walked on like a doormat and therefore i feel that the imminent three match ban will be fully justified. I for one would like to see violence like this stamped out of the game (excuse the pun).
Now to flash point two. Gervinho. About a quarter of an hour from the end, the new acquisition danced his way around a couple of defenders, into the penalty area and, although he could have shot, went down. On first view it looked like a stonewall penalty, on reflection, maybe less so but they have still been given. However, our man Barton took exception to what he saw as a blatant dive and stormed over to Gervinho, hauled him off of the floor and a huge brawl broke out. Again, St Joey of Newcastleshire went down rolling around in agony and suddenly..red card Gervinho. Up pops Barton proclaiming to all and sundry that he had swallowed a whole knuckle sandwich. Replays showed that what had actually happened was that the very tips of Gervinho's fingers had brushed against his face as he had attempted to slap Barton. Clearly the scouser isn't made of too Stern stuff. Barton himself picked up a yellow for the incident, a move which has quite rightly infuriated Arsene Wenger, as he feels both should have been given a red, or both a yellow, a point which I wholeheartedly agree with. Violent conduct is violent conduct after all. Unfortunately however, the new Ivorian must now sit out the next three league matches, against Liverpool, Manchester United and Swansea.
For those who are interested, the match itself wasn't much to write home about. It was a scrappy affair, only really coming to life after half time with the song incident and the introduction of Theo Walcott, who changed the complexion of the match with his pace, even unleashing the first shot on target of the match! Following the red card, the match petered out to a somewhat bore draw and, suspensions aside, Arsenal wont be too dis heartened to take the point away from St. James's Park. The were definite signs of encouragement, no more so that in defense, as Thomas Vermaelen's league return was faultless and his presence added an air of authority to what was last season a very shaky defense.
Next up in the league for Arsenal is the arrival of Liverpool for the first league match of the season at the Emirates. Before that however is the must win Champions league Qualifier against Udinese.