Joey Barton’s ability to be the centre of attention was once again evident as he was involved in the main talking point from Saturday’s game. The Magpies achieved a hard earned 0-0 draw with Arsenal but the game’s focal point came in the second half. Barton was involved in an off-the-ball incident with former Newcastle transfer target Gervinho that resulted in the Ivorian being red carded. The midfielder was incensed by an act of simulation from Gervinho to attempt to win a penalty and was not shy in letting the Ivory Coast international know his thoughts on the matter. Barton received a yellow card for his actions although some pundits felt he should also have been sent off.
It came as something of a surprise that Barton even started the game given it looked like he had played his last game for the club in a pre-season friendly with Leeds. Despite repeatedly criticising the Newcastle hierarchy, Alan Pardew must have felt that he could not afford to leave a player of his talents in isolation. Barton still carries the support of the majority of the Toon Army and was awarded a hero’s reception from the home fans. Even before the Gervinho incident, the 28-year-old had been on the receiving end of some rough treatment from Arsenal’s Alex Song.
In the aftermath of the game Barton has used his well-publicised Twitter account and a BBC
Barton’s actions lit up a game with few other incidents of note as two sides that have had disappointing summers failed to live up to last season’s exciting 4-4 draw. On the whole, Newcastle were solid at the back but showed little inventiveness going forward. The Magpies had few real chances to score and were often starved of the ball for long periods. The new look strike pairing of Demba Ba and Shola Ameobi failed to gel with Ba withdrawn at half time. In defence, Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor made some timely interceptions to snuff out most of the visitor’s attacks.
With Jose Enrique completing his expected move to Liverpool, the Magpies are in need of a new left back. The versatile Ryan Taylor was deployed in that positions against the Gunners but at times looked vulnerable against the tricky Gervinho. Managing Director Derek Llambias has promised further signings with just over two weeks of the transfer window to run. Dutchman Erik Pieters appears the most likely signing with Newcastle believed to keen on the PSV full back.