Newcastle go down 0-2 at St James' Park to Arsenal

Last updated : 18 March 2002 By
The Magpies, without Craig Bellamy, were unable to penetrate an Arsenal defence on a day where Newcastle's lack of strength in depth told, and their dream of winning the Premiership crown was all but ended.

Newcastle hadn't lost since the first game of the year against Manchester United, but they were outplayed and outclassed today by the team Gary Speed had earlier called "the best we've played against this season."

Craig Bellamy's absence was a crucial factor in the outcome of the match, Newcastle missed his runs and his overall penetration, as they had nobody to fill his boots.

The first half started at a frantic pace, Newcastle putting the pressure on the visitors, although they were not able to make it pay off, as Arsenal's first break led to them taking the lead.

A wonder goal from Dennis Bergkamp, as he turned Dabizas on the edge of the box with a neat flick, and slotted the ball past Given into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

It wasn't until the 20th minute that Newcastle had their first clear-cut chance. Robert's free-kick found Nolberto Solano at the back post, but he put his volley into the side netting.

Newcastle should have equalised on the half hour mark when Solano's long range effort was only parried by Seaman, but Arsenal were saved by a last-ditch tackle from Lee Dixon, kicking the ball out of Robert's path.

The resulting corner saw Gary Speed's header cleared off the line.

Arsenal scored the killer goal just before half time, Sol Campbell was found unmarked at the back post to head home an Arsenal free-kick.

Newcastle should have been awarded a penalty at the beginning of the second half when Stepanovs blatantly handled the ball, although referee Neale Barry ignored the home side's appeals.

Arsenal went on to create more chances, while Newcastle found themselves playing up against a brick wall. Lauren should have done better when he was put through on 53 mins, and Oleg Luzhny could have made the total three with a clever dribble past three defenders and a shot which forced a fine save from Shay Given.

Shearer had a header saved well by Seaman, and Jenas should have done better with a shot from the edge of the box, but in truth, Newcastle had no penetration whatsoever.

The last 15 minutes saw the chances dry up as Arsenal played keep-ball, and went on to claim three thoroughly deserved points, which takes them into second in the Premiership table.

Newcastle drop down to fourth place, but they have a second chance to avenge todays defeat next week when they face the Gunners again, in the FA Cup.

Newcastle need now to put this game behind them, and prepare for the trip to Anfield on Wednesday.