Arsenal extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to eight points despite enduring a frustrating night as they were held 0-0 by Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners made a super-charged start but struggled to turn their superiority into clear-cut chances to test Nick Pope in the visiting goal.
Newcastle improved as the half wore on and almost stole in front in injury time when Joelinton nodded wide at the far post.
Once again Arsenal made most of the running following the restart but the visitors continued to thwart Mikel Arteta’s side with shots at either end at a premium.
Referee Andy Madley did little to help the flow of the game as he brandished nine yellow cards, leaving both sets of players hugely frustrated as the match reached its climax.
Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah went close to winning it late on but Arsenal couldn’t find the breakthrough as they failed to score in the top-flight for the first time this season.
The result means second-placed Manchester City can cut Arsenal’s lead to five points if they win at Chelsea on Thursday night. Newcastle remain third and are nine points behind the Gunners having played a game more.
The sides will now switch attention to the FA Cup third round as Newcastle travel to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday while Arsenal visit Oxford on Monday night.
Frustration for the leaders as Newcastle once again show they are the real deal. Ahead of kick off there was a sense that an Arsenal win to move them 10 points clear would truly galvanise belief they can go on and win the title. Instead, supporters will leave the Emirates disappointed and worrying about Manchester City’s ability to string runs together and cut the gap at the summit.
This draw halted a streak of 10 straight wins at the Emirates dating back to last season and with Gabriel Jesus out injured, it won’t be a surprise if Arsenal really step up their interest in Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykhaylo Mudryk in the immediate aftermath of this game, particularly with Chelsea reported to be lurking. Arteta certainly won’t be hitting any panic buttons but will be keen to bolster his squad in attack as they look to kick on again in the second half of the season.
It’s also important to note that the home side’s lack of real goal threat was also down to Newcastle’s defensive resilience. The Magpies weathered an early storm before showing just why they have the division’s best rearguard with 10 clean sheets and just 11 goals conceded. Eddie Howe’s men were brilliantly organised and well worth a point that means they are now 13 games unbeaten and very much in the hunt for a top four finish.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Bukayo Saka (Arsenal). The forward was a livewire throughout and gave Dan Burn a difficult evening. Indeed, the Newcastle man was grateful to his teammates for their support as the visitors kept the Gunners at bay to pick up an impressive point.
ARSENAL: Ramsdale 7, White 6, Saliba 7, Gabriel 7, Zinchenko 6, Xhaka 7, Partey 7, Saka 8, Odegaard 7, Martinelli 7, Nketiah 7. Subs: Tomiyasu 6.
NEWCASTLE: Pope 7, Trippier 7, Botman 7, Schar 7, Burn 7, Willock 7, Longstaff 7, Guimaraes 7, Almiron 6, Wilson 6, Joelinton 7. Subs: Wood 6, Murphy 6, Saint-Maximin n/a.
04’ – ARSENAL CHANCES! The hosts threaten twice in quick succession. First Ben White completely skies a shot into the air as he attempted to connect with a loose ball in the area before Odegaard volleys just over the top.
45+2’ – NEWCASTLE CHANCE! Joelinton blows a big opportunity with a header wide at the far post after Schar had flicked on Trippier’s left-wing corner.
80’ – ARSENAL CHANCE! Martinelli meets a right-wing corner at the near post but sees his header flash just wide of the back stick.
87’ – ARSENAL CHANCE! Nketiah bursts free on the left side of the box but sees his low shot brilliantly blocked by Pope.