Allan Saint-Maximin catches eye in season-opening defeat for Newcastle United

Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United tenure got off to a losing start amid a protest against Mike Ashley at St James’s Park.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

A second-half goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave Arsenal a 1-0 win at the stadium on the Premier League’s opening weekend.

Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximin and Jetro Willems made their debuts in this afternoon’s match, which was played amid a torrential downpour.

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Thousands of fans boycotted the game at a sodden St James’s Park, which kicked off after a protest outside the club shop against owner Ashley. The official crowd was 47,635, though the real attendance will have been lower given that that figure included non-attending season-ticket holders.

On the pitch, Newcastle gave as good as they got in the first half, Joelinton narrowly headed wide from a Matt Ritchie cross, while Jonjo Shelvey struck the post with a half-volley.

Martin Dubravka did well to turn a shot from Aubameyang at the other end of the pitch.

There was no stopping Aubameyang, however, in the second half. Ainsley Maitland-Niles skipped past substitute Willems after Paul Dummett played a poor pass upfield. He delivered a ball over captain Jamaal Lascelles to the unmarked striker, who beat the exposed Dubravka.

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Newcastle, less organised after the withdrawal of Shelvey, never came back from that goal, though Saint-Maximin did add something to the team when he came on.

Steve Bruce.Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.

Bruce then sent on Saint-Maximin to a roar from the crowd, and United pushed for an equaliser. One-time Newcastle target Nicholas Pepe, signed by Arsenal for £72million in the summer, was sent on by Unai Emery in the 72nd minute.

Saint-Maximin attempted to inject some life into Newcastle, who struggled to come back form the goal.

There was no late comeback from United, who laboured in the last 20 minutes.

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NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka; Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie; Hayden, Shelvey (Willems, 53), Longstaff (Saint-Maximin, 66); Almiron, Joelinton. Subs not used: Darlow, Clark, Fernandez, Krafth, Muto.

ARSENAL: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Sokratis, Monreal; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Willock (Ceballos, 64), Nelson (Pepe, 71); Aubameyang. Subs not used: Martinez, Lacazette, Torreira, Luiz, Martinelli.