Newcastle United verdict: The same bad habit emerges plus player ratings and what’s next after Arsenal loss

Newcastle United left the Emirates Stadium empty-handed as questions over their defending continued.

Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle United reacts after Aaron Ramsdale of Arsenal (not pictured) makes a save during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United.

Defensive woes were again at the forefront of Newcastle United’s defeat at Arsenal.

For 45 minutes, Eddie Howe’s men were disciplined at the back but after the break, similar bad habits emerged.

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A result at the Emirates Stadium might have a tough ask but leaving pointless only increases the pressure ahead of a huge week on Tyneside.

A positive first-half on the defensive front

Arsenal, as expected, dominated the ball and poised the more threatening but equally, both sides’ goalkeepers were called into standout saves.

A whistle-happy Stuart Attwell awarded more free-kicks in the hosts’ favour, one stuck by Martin Odegaard which brought a flying save from Martin Dubravka.

Swiftly at the other end, a superb fingertips save onto the crossbar from Aaron Ramsdale stopped Jonjo Shelvey from giving United the lead on the half-hour mark.

Howe’s men were organised and disciplined in defence and when momentarily breached had the fantastic Dubravka to call upon.

OK, so there was a hint of fortune as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the post from two yards out but the initial save to push Emile Smith-Rowe’s header away was top class.

Howe and Tindall were very vocal on the touchline and it was clear they were pleased with what the players had given them as they entered half-time.

So, what went wrong for Newcastle after the break?

Simple, Arsenal committed more runners forward. And ultimately, Newcastle’s defensive frailties took centre stage again.

Jamaal Lascelles gave the ball away, Bukayo Saka moved in between a static Ryan Fraser and Emil Krafth to open the scoring 56 minutes.

Then, just moments after Callum Wilson appealed for a penalty, substitute Gabriel Martinelli latched onto a crossfield ball by Takehiro Tomiyasu to volley home a second.

Martinelli had barely been on the pitch a minute. United’s defence stoodstill again.

With that signalled game, set and match for Arsenal.

The introduction of Miguel Almiron and Jacob Murphy saw United improve in the final third but in truth, a goal rarely looked like it was going to arrive.

Fifth yellow cards of the season for Lascelles and Ritchie sees them banned for Tuesday’s visit of Norwich City - and perhaps that isn’t a bad thing.

Ritchie’s credentials as a full-back are consistently questioned. Time for Jamal Lewis? He deserves his chance.

Captain Lascelles hasn’t been up to scratch all season and could benefit from a spell out the side. Federico Fernandez is primed and waiting.

Where does the result leave Newcastle?

Bottom of the Premier League, 13 games without a win and 29 goals conceded.

In the context of the league table, Newcastle needed something from Arsenal. In their current predicament, they need something from every game.

It’s still early days for Howe but one glance at the league table sparks fear.

The first-half display was encouraging, it showed United do have the ability to defend. But the challenge is to make sure it lasts for 90 minutes. A clean sheet hasn’t been seen all season.

You can see the improvements under Howe but no points means United must hope the teams in and around them - mostly Leeds, Burnley and Norwich - don’t record victories over the weekend.

Some will argue there is still a long way to go - which is correct - but it’s not impossible that Newcastle will be cut adrift.

Few had expected a win in the capital but there is pressure as United head into a huge week.

Failure to claim six points in back-to-back games at St James’ Park will leave supporters fearing the worst.

Match stats

POSSESSION: Arsenal 67%-33% Newcastle

SHOTS: Arsenal 23-9 Newcastle

SHOTS ON TARGET: Arsenal 6-5 Newcastle.

CORNERS: Arsenal 4-3 Newcastle.

FOULS: Arsenal 6-12 Newcastle

Player ratings

Arsenal (4-4-1-1): Ramsdale 7, Tomiyasu 7, White 6, Gabriel 7, Tavares 7; Saka 7 (Martinelli 7), Partey 8 (Elney N/A), Sambi Lokonga 7, Smith-Rowe 7, Odegaard 7, Aubameyang 6 (Lacazette, 6). Subs not used: Leno, Tierney, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Pepe, Nketiah.

Newcastle (3-4-3): Dubravka 8, Fraser 5, Krafth 4, Lascelles 4, Schar 5, Ritchie 4 (Almiron 6, Shelvey 6 (Hayden N/A), Willock 6, Saint-Maximin 7, Joelinton 6 (Murphy 56), Wilson 6. Subs not used: Darlow, Clark, Lewis, Hendrick, Manquillo, Longstaff.

NUFC Man of the match - Martin Dubravka: Justified his recall. Pulled off an unbelievable save to deny Smith-Rowe in the first-half. Kept the scoreline down after the break.