Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second-half strike was the difference as Steve Bruce suffered defeat in his first match in charge of Newcastle
• Aubameyang seals opening-day victory for Arsenal
And read Louise Taylor’s report from St. James’ Park:
Do join Rob Smyth for kick-off at Old Trafford:
Limbering up for Manchester United v Chelsea?
Leicester City and Wolves kicked off the new season with a 0-0 draw, though Leander Dendoncker had a goal ruled out by the video assistant referee. Joao Moutinho’s corner was headed goalwards by Dendoncker and hit the arm of Willy Boly before Dendoncker powered home the rebound. But, after a review, the goal was disallowed by the referee, Andre Marriner:
Arsenal were hardly spectacular – but they got the job done. It took Arsenal until April to keep an away clean sheet in the Premier League last season but, this time around, they have yielded one within the first 96 minutes of their season. The youngsters Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson struggled to stamp their authority on the game but Aubameyang, as he so often does, came up with goods. Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi were impressive in midfield.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal is the difference at St. James’ Park, as Steve Bruce’s Newcastle reign starts with a narrow defeat. It was a game of precious few chances but Aubameyang showed a touch of class to effortlessly lift the ball over Martin Dubravka, the Newcastle goalkeeper, after sterling work by the marauding Arsenal full-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who had stole possession off the substitute Jetro Willems. It was Aubameyang’s 33rd goal in 50 Premier League appearances – only Mo Salah (36) has scored more goals in the competition in the same timeframe. Newcastle showed plenty of spirit – Joelinton was lively on debut and Allan Saint-Maximin busy off the bench – but Arsenal always held the upper hand after taking the lead. Unai Emery handed out a few debuts as his side closed out the game, with £72m record signing Nicolas Pépé, Dani Ceballos and Gabriel Martinelli all stepping off the bench as Arsenal held on for three points.
90+4 min: … Lascelles does well to help Dubravka’s free-kick on, it trickles down into the box but the Arsenal goalkeeper Leno is there to smother it. That’s probably that.
90+3 min: Newcastle free-kick on halfway. Dubravka will lump it forward …
90+1 min: Xhaka scarpers to the corner and draws a foul out of Javier Manquillo. Arsenal take an age to play the free-kick and, when they do, they almost free Aubameyang over the top in search of a second goal. But Dubravka is alert to it.
90 min: There will be four added minutes.
89 min: Arsenal go to pieces every time Saint-Maximin seizes possession – but they look as though they are going to survive and take the three points.
88 min: Joelinton does well to release Saint-Maximin down the left, who then lures in a couple of Arsenal shirts. Almirón takes over the baton and nudges the ball into the path of Joelinton, who finds a pocket of space on the edge of the area. But the Brazilian’s effort from distance is always rising. It all looked so promising.
85 min: Gabriel Martinelli replaces Mkhitaryan, who has had an indifferent kind of afternoon. Can Newcastle find a late equaliser?
83 min: Willems nudges the ball into the path of Saint-Maximin, who drifts out wide on the left. Then the winger comes bouncing inside, beyond Maitland-Niles and Guendouzi before taking aim. Saint-Maximin’s effort does not lack power but a deflection off Guendouzi takes the sting out of his strike. The former Nice forward has made a healthy first impression in 20-odd minutes off the bench. Meanwhile, Arsenal ready another substitution …
82 min: Edu, the Arsenal technical director, is sat up in the posh seats alongside Raul Sanllehi. Down in the technical area, Freddie Ljungberg is among those in conversation with Unai Emery as Arsenal seek to close out this victory.
80 min: Monreal cuts out Hayden’s stray pass and Arsenal scoot forward through Mkhitaryan. The ball is wonderfully worked to Aubameyang, who – for a split-second – looks set to pull the trigger but he dallies ever so slightly and the chance has gone. Newcastle eat away at Aubameyang and crowd him out.
77 min: Saint-Maximin breezes beyond Maitland-Niles, whizzing beyond the full-back in a flash but the Newcastle winger slips at the crucial moment. That bit of movement gave Arsenal a fright after they had seemingly got a bit comfortable knocking the ball around the back. Meanwhile, team news from Old Trafford:
75 min: Willems combines well with Ritchie, who stands up an inviting cross in search of Joelinton – but Bernd Leno is there to gobble it up. Without making Willems a scapegoat, Newcastle have looked nowhere near as balanced since the Dutchman replaced Shelvey shortly before the hour mark.
73 min: That Aubemayeng strike seems to have sapped Newcastle of the belief they could upset Arsenal here. They are running out of ideas – and into trouble, with Nicolas Pépé the latest to be gifted possession, this time by Schär. Arsenal are merely going through the motions, so much so that Pépé’s first touch is poor on receiving a throw-in down the right. Newcastle need to find a way of making life difficult in the closing stages. Joelinton has become more and more isolated. Miguel Almirón, too, has faded a little.
71 min: Arsenal’s £72m man is on. Nicolas Pépé replaces Reiss Nelson. The Ivory Coast forward comes on to a roaring ovation from the pocket of Arsenal supporters up in the Gods at St. James’ Park. Meanwhile, Xhaka is moving a little gingerly after Saint-Maximin clobbered him a moment ago. It was a nasty one.
67 min: The arrival of Saint-Maximin has stirred a home crowd and Newcastle threaten from a short corner, with a cannoned effort calling Leno into action. It could be a long 20 minutes or so for the Arsenal back line. How Bruce must wish he could throw on a certain Andy Carroll. This game is made for him.
65 min: A beaming Allan Saint-Maximin is on for Sean Longstaff. Steve Bruce will hope the winger, who is all smiles, can have a better impact than Jetro Willems, who has had a pretty torrid time since stepping off the bench.
64 min: The Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos is on for his competitive Arsenal debut, replacing the teenager Joe Willock. Ceballos is some talent; the Spaniard lit up the European Under-21 Championship in Italy and San Marino this summer.
60 min: Thirty-three goals in 50 Premier League appearances. Not bad going for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Arsenal striker is up and running for the season. And how his team needed that touch of class. Maitland-Niles did superbly to lay the ball on a plate but it was a classy finish by Aubameyang.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pounces on a gaping hole in the Newcastle defence. Maitland-Niles nabs the ball from a sleeping Willems and bombs forward down the right, whipping a wonderful ball in to the back post where Aubameyang is lurking unmarked. He has an age to dink the ball over a hapless Dubravka in the Newcastle goal. Aubameyang acrobatically celebrates getting off the mark. Dani Ceballos, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pépé had all been warming up. Suddenly, things are looking up for Emery.
54 min: Guendouzi drives forward unchallenged and spreads the ball wide to Aubameyang, who stabs an effort goalwards. It’s blocked. Nothing doing. Arsenal have badly struggled to broach the Newcastle back line.
53 min: Steve Bruce blinks first, with Newcastle making the first substitution of the day: Jetro Willems is on for Jonjo Shelvey.
52 min: Aubameyang’s deflected effort lands on the roof of Dubravka’s net! The striker raced on to a low Monreal pass but was forced to shoot from a tight angle by Paul Dummett. From the resulting corner, Xhaka helped the ball on from the near post but it flew beyond Joe Willock before he could do anything about it.
51 min: Lacazette and Pépé trudge off the bench, braving the conditions to warm up. Arsenal fans appreciate their efforts, greeting the pair with a warm applause. Unai Emery is surely only a few minutes away from changes. They are yet to get going.
48 min: Dubravka wellies the ball straight out. That’s no good and he knows it. Newcastle have however started this half the brighter of these sides. Arsenal have seemed a little off-colour.
47 min: The attendance at St. James’ Park is reportedly around 4,000 down on the average crowd. Some of that is presumably boycott-related. Newcastle have made a perky start to this second half, with Joelinton robbing the ball off Xhaka’s feet 30 yards out.
46 min: Newcastle get us back under way. No changes.
It’s 0-0 at half-time at the King Power Stadium, where Leicester City and Wolves are doing battle. Meanwhile, whet your appetite for this afternoon’s headline act at Old Trafford:
Clearcut chances have been at a premium but Newcastle have shaded the opening 47 minutes at St. James’ Park. Jonjo Shelvey rattled a post, the hustling Joelinton has been busy, as has Miguel Almirón, who was booked for a painful dive. As for Arsenal, Unai Emery’s side have been pretty underwhelming. Arsenal’s two teenagers Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson have looked pretty lost but, in truth, none of their players are finding much joy. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a whiff of goal but they have struggled to breakdown a resolute Newcastle backline. Steve Bruce, meanwhile, will be reasonably happy. Emery must be tempted to mix things up at the break, perhaps throw on a new signing. Or two.
45+2 min: Arsenal begin to zip the ball around, it’s all nicey-nicey but then Mkhitaryan carelessly overhits a pass for Nelson, who is in space wide. That sloppiness just about sums it up.
45 min: There will be two added minutes.
44 min: It’s all gone a bit flat. Changes at the break, maybe?
42 min: Aubameyang tries to make something happen in the final third but Newcastle stand firm. They have looked pretty sturdy in defence. Arsenal need to be that bit stronger, savvier and smarter.
40 min: Newcastle get lucky as the ball ricochets off Maitland-Niles and out for a throw. There to keep it alive on the touchline and speed up the phase of play is Steve Bruce, who rolls back the years with a peerless first touch before the throw-in is taken. Newcastle attempt to surge upfield down the left but it comes back at them and Mkhitaryan carves out a corner for Arsenal.
39 min: Miguel Almirón drops a shoulder and has a pop from 30-odd yards. Left-footed, it’s always rising but it does not lack power. A show of intent, if nothing else. Almirón and Joelinton have been busy up front for Newcastle.
37 min: Seconds after Shelvey leathers a 40-yard pass into the advertising hoardings, Dubravka gets a goal-kick all wrong. Testing conditions for both teams, with Arsenal attempting to grapple back control on a game that has got away from them a little. Newcastle seem happy to soak up some relatively tame possession.
35 min: Mkhitaryan is booked for a rash challenge on Joelinton. Arsenal were beginning to peg Newcastle back, so that will give the hosts a chance to have a breather. Conditions are pretty bleak out there. Allan Saint-Maximin is among the Newcastle subs warming up in the swirling rain.
34 min: Ritchie is pulled up for dragging back Maitland-Niles. The game has just become a little bitty. Arsenal have another free-kick on halfway. Maitland-Niles requires some attention from the medical staff, having appeared to twist his ankle ever so slightly, but the wing-back limps back on to the pitch.