Newcastle have been very much second best in the first half against Arsenal at the Emirates, where Arsenal have dominated possession, and are two goals to the good from Van Persie.
But for the brilliance of Shay Given, who made two top class saves. And two open goal misses from Gallas and Van Persie Arsenal could have, and should have been well ahead after 45 minutes.
But Arsenal don’t score the goals that represent their dominance and it was a penalty when N’Zogbia was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball when he was looking away from the ball and raised his right hand for some balance.
Perse, after 18 minutes, gave Given no chance as hit the ball beautifully to Given’s left hand side, past a despairing dive from Shay.
In the first half Coloccini was excellent in the heart of the Newcastle defense, and is now the leader of Newcastle’s defense.
It was after just 3 minutes that Gallas somehow managed to blaze over from 5 yards, with the goal at his mercy, and then after 6 minutes Given brilliantly save from Toure low to his left to turn the ball around the post.
Then after 18 minutes Newcastle got the penalty, which was very dubious but referee Rob Styles has a history of giving dubious penalties.
The problem Newcastle were having is that they couldn’t get the ball, and when they got it they were giving it away.
Then after 31 minutes a free kick from just outside the box was going in high to Shay’s top right hand corner when the Irish keeper made another outstanding save, to turn the ball over the bar. A top drawer save form Given.
This lad is again proving he is one of the best keepers in the Premiership.
But it was still just 1-0 with half time approaching and Newcastle were still in the game, despite being comprehensively outplayed.
And after 37 minutes an excellent Gutierrez cross was going to Owen, who was ready to tap the ball home, but amazingly Shola Ameobi got in Michael’s way, and the chance was lost. It was terrible play by Shola, who should have read the play a lot better.
But then Arsenal got their second crucial goal, when Arsenal caught Newcastle short at the back and Emmanuel Eboue, down the tight crossed into the center for Van Perse to force the ball home. That was after 42 minutes and a bad time for the Magpies to concede the second goal.
Just before half time, Enrique limped off and was replaced by Bassong.
Then just before the break Owen forced the Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, into an excellent save.
The good news is that Owen has had a couple fo chances in the last 8 minutes of the half, but newcastle will find the second half difficult now – because they have to attack, and Arsenal are excellent at rapid counter-attacks .
A goal from Newcastle can get the side back into the game, but unfortunately Newcastle have caught Arsenal at the top of their game.