The Newcastle manager caused a surprise by playing Shola Ameobi up front with Martins and Milner in a 4-3-3 formation. As expected Faye started in midfield for the first time for Newcastle United.
Arsenal: Fabianski, Eboue, Hoyte, Senderos, Traore, Denilson, Diarra, Song, Bendtner, Eduardo, Walcott
Subs: Mannone, Gavin Hoyte, Perez, Diaby, Lansbury
Newcastle United: Given, Beye, Taylor, Rozehnal, Enrique, Milner, Faye, Ameobi, N’Zogbia, Martins, Smith
Subs: Forster, Edgar, Butt, Emre, Geremi
Referee: Howard Webb
Newcastle started in an attacking 4-3-3 formation and the game got off to a fast start with both teams willing to attack each other.
After 10 minutes Newcastle had a wonderful chance to go ahead as Enrique sent in a powerful cross and Martins eluded Senderos rather easily to put in a powerful header, that forced Fabianski made a wonderful save.
Then after 16 minutes Arsenal had an even better chance when Bendtner sent in a powerful header from another excellent cross which flashed over the crossbar when he really should have scored.
James Milner was not his usual self, when after 20 minutes he gave the ball away twice within a couple of minutes. The game was end to end with both sides producing an end to end attacking game in front of a full house at the Emirates Stadium. After 25 minutes there was a half chance for Arsenal when a cross came over from Eboue and Beye challenged Eduardo as the Arsenal youngster slid in but the ball went by the post for a goal kick.
After 25 minutes the Arsenal youngsters were hitting their stride and putting pressure on the Newcastle defense. Newcastle’s defense were being put under pressure as Arsenal were attacking in style and playing some terrific flowing football. After 30 minutes Martins had a good chance but Oba lashed the ball wide when some calmness surely would have ensured a goal. It was Milner who hit a beautiful ball over the top for Martins. Oba needs to gain more composure when these chances present themselves.
After 38 minutes, following a free kick for a foul on Eboue, Walcott sent a shot over the crossbar but he had too much time to shoot. The Newcastle defense is being stretched but they are holding out well. Shola Ameoi is playing out wide on the left but is looking out of place and his confidence is not high.
There is some hope for Newcastle as Senderos has made one or two errors in central defense that Arsenal have not been punished for. Newcastle must think they have a chance if they can get Martins one on one with Senderos exposed. Seems like most of the Arsenal players are teenagers – but their age bears no resemblance at all to their skill as they continue to play excellent football.
The half time whistle comes and everyone is surprised as the game has been enthralling and passed so quickly. An excellent game to watch but Arsenal are the better team – but it’s still 0-0 and Newcastle are still in with a chance.
This is a chance for perhaps Emre to come on in the second half for Newcastle – because the game is pure football and Emre can play in this kind of game. His creativity could open a few chances for the black and whites.
However, it doesn’t look like 4-3-3 is doing Newcastle any favors as Arsenal is playing at a tremendous pace and it’s really hard for the middle 3. As half-time approaches Beye seems heavy legged as he seems to be suffering from the speed of the Premiership. The game is completely open and being played at a frantic pace by the young Gunners.
Where does Wenger find these players?