Arsenal 0 Newcastle United 0
This was one of the most frenzied and feverish of goalless draws as Newcastle dented Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes and pushed their own Champions League credentials.
Deep into injury-time, as Arsenal desperately demanded a penalty for what they believed was a handball, Mikel Arteta and Eddie Howe clashed on the touchline. It showed how high the stakes were with the Arsenal manager incredibly animated throughout.
It shows much of the growing sense of belief at Arsenal that the point was met with disappointment, even though it extends their lead at the top to eight points, albeit having played a game more than Manchester City.
It was only the third league game this season in which Arsenal have dropped points. The result also, though, highlighted the need for attacking reinforcements because, despite their apparent dominance, the league leaders cannot, in truth, point to many clear-cut opportunities that were not taken.
There was an excellent stop by Nick Pope, with an outstretched leg, to deny Eddie Nketiah when the striker tried to shoot back across the goalkeeper. In truth, Newcastle were fully deserving of the result and their substitute Chris Wood should have done better when sent clear in injury-time.
Arsenal tore at Newcastle, down both flanks but appeared to target Dan Burn down the left. His match-up with Bukayo Saka looked more like a mis-match and the converted centre-half was easily beaten with Pope rescuing him, saving from Saka with his feet. Soon after and Martin Odegaard was released down the same side and only an alert intervention blocked his cut-back from the byline.
The Arsenal captain had already half-volleyed over and Saka and Gabriel Martinelli had combined to set up Granit Xhaka, who slid the ball into the side-netting. It all looked set for Newcastle to be over-powered, but they remained calm, composed and stayed in contention as they showed why they, too, had enjoyed such an impressive campaign so far.
There were more antics from Arteta as Wilson was then cautioned for catching Saliba with a high boot. It all contributed to the febrile mood which he clearly wants to create, and it continued as Joelinton brought down Odegaard. The midfielder’s free-kick was met by Gabriel, who angled his header across goal, with Pope struggling. It swung past the post and Newcastle had another reprieve.
It began to descend further. Arteta’s behaviour and the demands that every foul warranted a caution had annoyed Newcastle, who swarmed around referee Andrew Madley demanding action after Odegaard pulled Miguel Almiron back by his shirt. They were further enraged when Burn’s calls for a penalty after he was sandwiched by Gabriel and Thomas Partey went unheeded before Xhaka chopped down Fabian Schar.
Arsenal had lost their focus and, on the stroke of half-time, Newcastle should have claimed the lead when Sven Botman’s flick-on was met by Joelinton at the far post, but he somehow headed over the bar. Madley was booed off at half-time but the message to Arsenal – and to Arteta – surely had to be to calm down.
Arsenal were perhaps fortunate when Xhaka, already yellow-carded, avoided another booking early in the second-half when he pushed over Wilson. They were fortunate again when Aaron Ramsdale’s attempt to play the ball out was blocked, with Wilson miscuing inside the six-yard area after he was teed up by Almiron.
Finally, the home side threatened with an opening fashioned for Odegaard – but, falling back, he skied it over before Saka earned a free-kick despite Joelinton winning the ball. Pope punched it away under pressure.
That pressure grew. Newcastle were defending ever deeper now; pushed back onto the edge of their own penalty area and beyond with Howe compelled to act, making a double substitution, including the withdrawal of Wilson to try to earn some respite.
It continued to be edgy and fraught; the stakes were so high. Saka fell to the ground, claiming he was caught in the face by Joelinton – who has already been booked – but his reaction was rightly ignored by the referee.
Arsenal then created a chance with Martinelli meeting a corner at the near post and flashing a header across goal. It bounced a foot wide before it was Newcastle’s turn to threaten with only canny work from Oleksandr Zinchenko, shepherding the ball put of play, prevented substitute Jacob Murphy from reaching Burn’s header.