Arsenal 0 - 1 Newcastle United

(Elliott 44)

Arsenal

Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Vieira, Bould, Adams (Parlour 45), Platt (Anelka 59), Wright, Merson, Bergkamp, Keown. Subs Not Used: Lukic, Marshall, Hughes

Newcastle

Srnicek, Barton, Beresford, Batty, Peacock, Lee (Clark 28), Shearer, Ferdinand, Asprilla (Gillespie 52), Watson, Elliott. Subs Not Used: Beardsley, Ginola, Hislop

Booked

Wright, Bergkamp, Vieira, Dixon, Watson, Ferdinand, Asprilla, Gillespie, Batty Sent Off: Gillespie (79).

Att

38,179

Ref

M J Bodenham (East Looe).

rsenal manager Arsene Wenger was last night left looking back at three results which have almost certainly cost the club a place in next season's European Champion's League.

"We have been beaten at home by our three biggest rivals, Manchester United, Liverpool and now Newcastle. I do not think that is a coincidence. We clearly have a problem playing big teams. We seem to lack penetration, but there is more to it than that.

"I am frustrated and disappointed, but also feel sad for the players. They deserved to win this and go out of their last home game of the season with more satisfaction."

Wenger virtually conceded that his team cannot get second spot now unless either Liverpool or Newcastle fail badly on the run-in. And it was ironic that the player who so often drags them back into lif with his goals should this time have possibly cost them so much with his misses.

Wright has hit 28 goals this season and could easily have had three more in this match. Normally when he has only the keeper to beat it's no contest. But this time Newcastle's Srnicek won every time.

The worst miss was a close range header hit so weakly the keeper had no problem grabbing the ball on the line.

Wright was booked in the seventh minute for, once again, getting involved in someone else's business. He lunged at Peacock who was having a row with Bergkamp.

"I think that early booking affected Ian the rest of the game. He seemed hesitant whenever he was in scoring positions," said Wenger.

Wright was the first of ten yellow cards handed out by referee Martin Bodenham - two to Gillespie who came on as second half substitute and was off again 12 minutes from time. But even 10 men were able to hold off Arsenal's late surge, which says a lot of the improvement made to the Newcastle defence since Kenny Dalglish took over.

Arsenal suffered from another Dalglish inspired move - encouraging Elliot to come forward more often. He headed the winner after Peacock knocked on Asprilla's corner for his sixth goal of the season, all since Dalglish arrived.

No wonder Arsenal were angry with themselves. They denied the 28 million strikeforce of Shearer, Ferdinand and Asprilla only to be beaten by a defender. But it was that sort of day for the Gunners who had 19 shots on target without scoring.

Even the reliable Bergkamp couldn't save them and they lost skipper Tony Adams for the second half suffering from double vision. But Adams is the least of Wenger's problems. Dispite another impressive midfield display from Vieira, it needs more craft in that department if we are to finish closer to the title next season.

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Last Updated: Sunday May 04, 1997 12:53:42 GMT Daylight Time

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