NEWCASTLE, August 29- Arsenal had to work hard to find a way past 10-man Newcastle as a second-half own goal from Fabricio Coloccini secured a narrow 1-0 Premier League victory on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger’s side maintained their 100 per cent away record but struggled to make the most of their 74-minute numerical advantage following an early red card for Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic at St James’ Park.
They finally broke the deadlock when an angled drive from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain deflected in off Coloccini seven minutes after the restart to secure a second win of the season for the north London club going into the international break.
The hosts remain without a league win so far, leaving them on two points from their opening four games as they succumbed to an eighth consecutive defeat to Wenger’s men.
Even in defeat, Steve McClaren’s team emerged with credit for a dogged rearguard display fuelled by a sense of injustice following what they felt was a harsh sending-off for their Serbian international.
In only his second Premier League start since a £14 million ($21.5 million, 19.2 million euros) move from Belgian side Anderlecht, Mitrovic was ordered off for a 16th-minute challenge on Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin, whose overly-dramatic reaction appeared to play a part in referee Andre Marriner’s decision to brandish a straight red card.
It was a clumsy attempt to win the ball, seemingly worthy of a yellow card.
But having been booked on two previous occasions this season shortly after coming on as a substitute, the 20-year-old’s reputation appears to have gone before him in a contest that saw McClaren’s side pick up six other cautions.
– Glaring miss –
Arsenal, who saw Mesut Ozil (knee) join fellow-German international Per Mertesacker (chest infection) on the sidelines, should have made their numerical superiority pay before half-time.
Theo Walcott, however, was guilty of a glaring miss, spooning the rebound over the bar from close range after Tim Krul beat out an Alexis Sanchez shot from distance into the path of the England forward, who should have scored as he followed up inside the six-yard box.
Arsenal’s territorial dominance had already seen their strong penalty appeals go unanswered, when Newcastle midfielder Florian Thauvin barged into Hector Bellerin in the area to bring an abrupt halt to a 20-pass move from the visitors.
Krul had to be alert to smother at the feet of Walcott, while an angled drive narrowly wide from Moussa Sissoko, Newcastle’s main attacking threat in the absence of Mitrovic, was the only moment of concern before or after the break for Arsenal keeper Petr Cech.
The pressure eventually told as the Gunners broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute with the first opportunity of the second half.
Santi Cazorla’s shot from the edge of the area was blocked, and when Krul parried the rebound from Aaron Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain found the bottom corner from a narrow angle with the aid of a deflection off Newcastle skipper Coloccini.
A fine reaction save from Krul denied Sanchez a second goal for the visitors shortly afterwards as the exertions of playing for so long with a man down began to take its toll on Newcastle.
McClaren’s side remained in the contest while the deficit still stood at a single goal, but hopes of a comeback remained largely theoretical as they struggled to produce any sustained forward pressure and Arsenal saw out the second half without alarm.