Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal - Toon Remain Winless As Mitrovic Sees Red

It was inevitable that the big Serbian would be sent off at some point...

Aleksandar Mitrovic's introduction to St James' Park life has been a harsh one - and it was his 16th-minute red card that ultimately forced Newcastle United on to the defensive and an eventual 1-0 loss against Arsenal. Despite a magnificent defensive display from the Magpies - their second in succession - they succumbed to an unfortunate Fabricio Coloccini own goal, with an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain cross-shot deflecting in off the unfortunate Toon skipper. Left with 10 men following Mitrovic's stamp on Francis Coquelin - which, although a tad harsh, was deserved because it was reckless and added to his two yellow cards earlier in the season - Newcastle fought bravely but simply could not hold out against an Arsenal side desperate to get their title challenge back on track. Steve McClaren's side have failed to win any of their opening four Barclays Premier League games, they have not scored in either of the last two, and Newcastle have now received 22 red cards since the beginning of the 2011-12 season, more than any other top-flight team. There may have been defensive positives for McClaren and his backroom staff, but there remain problems that need to be addressed. Florian Thauvin was given his full Premier League debut, alongside the fit-again Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum behind Mitrovic up top. Chancel Mbemba and Coloccini shifted back into the centre of NUFC's defence as Daryl Janmaat returned from suspension, while Laurent Koscielny was surprisingly included in Arsenal's starting line-up but Olivier Giroud was left on the Gunners' bench. Less than three minutes into the game Sissoko found himself in the referee€™s notebook, perhaps foreshadowing what was to come. Newcastle€™s first real positive move came after eight minutes, when Massadio Haidara played in Thauvin down the left, and his cross deflected into the hands of Petr Cech with Mitrovic lurking in the box. But then Tim Krul was forced to make an exceptional save, with Hector Bellerin flighting a lovely ball over the Newcastle back four, which Theo Walcott latched on to. The Magpies keeper was equal to it though, rushing out of his goal to get a strong left hand on the ball to take it away from Walcott. Moments later, Krul was then parrying an Aaron Ramsey shot as the Gunners cut open the Newcastle defence once more, but the flag was already up for offside anyway. Thauvin was then lucky not to give away a penalty for a clumsy challenge on Bellerin, before the Magpies counter-attacked and Sissoko lashed a dangerous-looking shot across the face of Cech€™s goal. And the huge talking point of the game arrived in the 16th minute. When Mitrovic flicked a ball on, Coquelin then took a touch to take it away from the Serbian, whose studs went on to the leg and then down to the foot of the French midfielder. After a long pause to think, referee Andre Marriner unveiled a red card - meaning Mitrovic has been booked and now red carded in barely half an hour of Premier League football at St James€™ Park. Whether his reputation preceded him or not, Mitrovic€™s challenge was naïve and he caught both the shin and foot of Coquelin with his studs - and for that a red card was probably just about justifiable. The striker gave the referee a decision to make, and Marriner decided to go for red. When Mbemba was also booked just a few minutes later for a foul on Sanchez though, St James€™ Park went into uproar, feeling extremely hard done to by Marriner. Without a forward on the field Thauvin - who has played up top for Bastia in the past - was asked to fill in there, but his lack of presence compared to Mitrovic meant that Newcastle were struggling to hold on to possession. In the 32nd minute, the 10 men were almost made to pay as well - and in fact should have been. Alexis Sanchez fired an effort in from 25 yards, Krul could only parry and Walcott, who was following up, somehow managed to hook a shot over the bar from just a couple of yards out when faced with an open goal. Walcott was then fed by Oxlade-Chamberlain just a few minutes later, but this time he put his effort high and wide under pressure from Mbemba. Neat work at the other end from Thauvin then saw a low cross from the left blocked, but Mbemba tried to set-up another attack with a spectacular 80-yard run while McClaren became increasingly frustrated on the touchline. Newcastle survived until half-time - and with a mammoth first-half defensive display that clearly pleased their animated head coach on the touchline. The second-half started in much the same fashion for Newcastle fans, who booed Marriner€™s re-emergence from the tunnel - before growing even more frustrated when Vurnon Anita was harshly booked. Stadium-wide sarcastic applause then broke out when Santi Cazorla finally became the first Arsenal player to be yellow-carded - but then Wijnaldum entered the book for dissent seconds later. Newcastle€™s defence finally caved in after 52 minutes. Krul parried an effort from Sanchez, before Oxlade-Chamberlain€™s cross-shot was then deflected off Coloccini and into the far corner of the net. Suddenly the home crowd fell silent, and the visiting support were vocal once more. Thauvin was flagged offside when he thought he was clean through moments later, as Newcastle tried to get back into the game. Arsenal€™s threat did not end just because they had gone ahead though. Krul was forced to make a magnificent save up high from Sanchez as the Gunners pressed forward with their extra man. Cazorla then rasped a snap-shot straight at Krul as Newcastle€™s goal was besieged by Arsenal throughout the majority of the second 45. McClaren was not cautious as the game went on though, replacing defensive-midfielder Anita with Ayoze Perez on 72 minutes as he desperately searched for an equaliser. Substitute Olivier Giroud almost had his customary goal against the Magpies when he hit a shot at Krul, but the Dutchman comfortably collected. Unfortunately for Newcastle, despite McClaren's positive changes, they simply could not find the breakthrough. In truth, it was Arsenal who looked like adding to their scoreline rather than the Magpies, which is hardly surprising given that the home side had fought on with 10 men for so long. Valiant in their defiance they may have been, but discipline is a serious issue for Newcastle. That's now eight red cards in their past 14 games - and McClaren needs not only a win, but also greater maturity from his squad going forward.
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Krul; Janmaat, Mbemba, Coloccini, Haidara; Colback, Anita (Perez 72); Thauvin (De Jong 77), Wijnaldum, Sissoko (Cisse 78); Mitrovic Subs Not Used: Darlow, Taylor, Tiote, Obertan Booked: Sissoko, Mbemba, Thauvin, Anita, Wijnaldum, Coloccini Sent Off: Mitrovic Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arteta 82), Ramsey, Sanchez; Walcott (Giroud 70) Subs Not Used: Ospina, Gibbs, Chambers, Debuchy, Campbell Goal: Coloccini OG (52) Booked: Cazorla Referee: Andre Marriner Attendance: 50,388

NUFC editor for History graduate (University of Edinburgh) and NCTJ-trained journalist. I love sports, hopelessly following Newcastle United and Newcastle Falcons. My pastimes include watching and attending sports matches religiously, reading spy books and sampling ales.