Arsenal (h) Premier League
Half time: Newcastle 0 Arsenal 0
"They are competitive players and there are going to be incidents when they put in full-on tackles or get involved in something they donít like. They have got character. That is why they are great players.
"Joey Barton is a character. He gave me assurances on Friday that he was fully committed to Newcastle and he showed that today because his performance was one of the best performances out there.
"As you can see from his Twitter
site he has got a personality and a bit of character. I am not saying he is
always perfect but he expresses that on the pitch.
"He could not have done more today in the dressing room and on the pitch. I think that he will be here beyond the end of August. You can never say anything 100 per cent in football but I think he will be.
"I think the referee made the correct decision because firstly Gervinho dived and I donít think there is any doubt about that. That gets the blood boiling in any footballer, let alone Joey Barton. He just tried to express that to Gervinho in saying what are you doing, diving, and grabbed hold of him.
"Then it turned into a tussle but Joey never raised his hands or anything and the guy has slapped him round the head. You canít do that on a Sunday morning and he ainít gonna get away with it here. He gets involved in things but what has he done today. He has been slapped round the head and stamped on.
"Alex Song is a player I love because he worked for me at Charlton. He is a terrific lad and that is very out of character for him. Hopefully he did it by mistake but it was a stamp. He put his foot on him and Alex will be disappointed when he sees that. There is no point hiding from the truth. Thatís what happened and I will tell him when I see that.
"It was a strange game in a lot of ways because I felt the start of the game went according to what I predicted because I thought that there would be a resolve from the Arsenal dressing room because of the criticism that has come their way saying they are not going to win anything this side and that it would fire them up and it did but we showed tremendous resolve. But our passing and set-plays let us down today.
"Weíre confident weíll have
some new players here by next weekend. I donít want to talk about specific
players, but Iím confident that by the time we play Sunderland Iíll have
a left-back in place Ė and hopefully a striker.
"I hope he (Taylor) doesnít play
next week, because I think weíll have a left-back, but if Ryan has to play
there, then fine. Itís got to be hats off to him. He has that sort of role
at our club Ė centre mid, right-hand side of midfield, right-back or
left-back, it doesnít matter, he does an honest job."
"If I need to be defending more, or whatever, Iíll do it. The integration has been easy. Itís quite easy to fit into the group. Iím just happy that training has gone well, and the atmosphere in the group is good.
"The last season was quite frustrating, so Iím up for anything on the pitch. The most important thing for me was to get my confidence back and make good passes and I created some opportunities, so it was good overall. The only thing missing was the three points, but weíre still happy with the point.
"We could have done better Ė they
were down to 10 men. Weíre still happy with one point - itís important
to grab something from the big teams.Ē
"It was a good first game for me and for the team because Arsenal are a good side. I am very tired. It was very tough, but when I play more games I will get better and it will be okay for me. I will work a lot to get fitter.
"We have played one game and got one point - a good point - and now we have to work for Sunderland next week. We have to win there."
Joey Barton's twitter highlights:
"maybe I shouldn't of got involved but diving and trying to win a penalty, is sh*t. Needs stamping out (No pun)."
"What do people want me to do, stand and trade blows with Gervinho. If u raise ur hands to players faces, u should be off. Ref got it right..."
"Imagine if id of stamped on Song, all the numptys would be out calling for a public execution. What cos its on me its alright?"
"If i stayed up or went down its not relevant, raises his hands off. I was merely highlighting he struck me. Song stamped should of been seen."
"Great result and performance from
the lads. On a personal note hopefully, today proves my commitment, if it
was ever in doubt."
"I thought we had a solid performance
and were in control. Newcastle had last seasonís 4-4 more in their mind than
we did. They organised not to concede goals, defended well and it was very
difficult for us because we played a team who was highly focused to
"We try to play football and, if you watched today, you will see that. Overall, I feel we have been very harshly punished today. We try to play and sometimes we overreact. We have to take control of that. If we have an area to improve on, then that is it. We will learn from that today.
"If we had conceded a goal I would have been bombarded with questions about why I donít buy a centre back! They have to take credit. I am not against spending money if the players we buy can improve our squad. We have a big squad and if some players leave we will try to bring players in. We request top quality and we are not scared to spend money.
"It is important that there is a love
between the fans and the players. The players today have shown a commitment that
deserves the support of the fans.
This time there was to be no dramatic comeback but like our previous meeting on Tyneside, Joey Barton was involved in red card controversy as the Gunners finished a man short and the points were shared.
Former Toon transfer target, Gervinho, was dismissed for slapping Barton after the two had become embroiled in a scuffle following a dive from the Arsenal man in United's penalty area. Barton needlessly raced over to pick up the forward and did so far too aggressively and in the ensuing melee Gervinho slapped Joey who then dramatically fell to the ground clutching his face.
The whole incident didn't look great from any perspective but the cards shown were probably correct but it was an earlier incident that will also occupy the thoughts of the FA on Monday.
Barton won the ball cleanly from Alex Song but the Arsenal man then stamped on our midfielder's Achilles in full view of the benches, linesman and fourth official but incredibly wasn't seen by any of the officials - despite Joey leaving the field to remonstrate with the latter.
It was another unsavoury incident in a game of scant good football from both sides and a distinct lack of clear-cut chances at either end (a fact borne out by Match of the Day's highlights, which failed to mention Ameobi, Ba, Obertan, Best, Lovenkrands...or Szczesny).
Two sides whose squad makeup remains in a state of flux ahead of the transfer window closing ultimately achieved their main objectives - of not losing or conceding a goal. The visitors could justifiably claim they had more possession but both 'keepers were rarely tested and the few opportunities were hit high or wide of the goals.
A fractured pre-season meant that Alan Pardew's starting XI had never previously played together, with today's midfield quartet split over three continents in pre-season.
Under those circumstances, the new central pairing of Tiote and Cabaye did fairly well - the Ivorian initially pushing further forward but the French international occupying a more advanced role in the second half, coming as near to anyone to testing Szczesny,
And with the rumoured return of James Perch as
an emergency left back thankfully not materialising, Ryan Taylor got over a
shaky start to emerge with some credit - assisted by some responsible work from
Jonas Gutierrez, although to the detriment of his attacking duties (a similar
doubling up took place in our Intertoto game in Troyes, when Robbie Elliott
came on to buddy with Wayne Quinn - quite why I thought that, never mind wrote
it will remain a mystery).
Up front, debutant Ba endured a muddled 45 minutes before failing to reappear - although a coin toss could have decided whether it was he or Shola Ameobi who came off at half time. Our number 23 frequently toppled to the floor and seemed continually on the verge of getting dog's abuse from the crowd. Given his previous potency against our next opponents though, we'll move on swiftly...
It was left to Ba's replacement Gabriel Obertan
to provide some desperately needed life to United's attacking attempts,
although Ameobi remained isolated and innocuous. The former Old Trafford fringe player made an
instant impact following his half time introduction, demonstrating both pace
and trickery on the ball and livening up the crowd.
Centre back pairing Fabricio Coloccini and Steven
Taylor shaded it as joint men of the match, while Tim Krul was rarely troubled,
but grateful to Danny Simpson for a goal-line clearance in the first half after
the 'keeper lost possession following an aerial challenge with an opponent.