Newcastle United 1 Arsenal 0: Shearer's mastery of ancient arts of combat riles Wenger

Arsène Wenger saw it slightly differently after 90 minutes of good, old, blood and thunder at St James' Park on Saturday. According to the professor of Highbury, the Newcastle captain's capacity for action surpassed the norm in so far as it placed him above the laws of football.

"He goes for the man first when the ball is in the air and he gets away with it," the Arsenal manager complained. "You must know what you want with the rules. Either you decide that it is a foul or maybe we make a judo party and everybody will be happy."

Graeme Souness, an honours graduate of the old school of English football and a black belt in the physical arts of the game, was naturally inclined towards the Lindstrom theory. The Newcastle manager did concede that "the grumpy old man was in a bad mood today." But added: "Alan plays like a true man. In my eyes, there is absolutely nothing wrong with his style of football."

Wenger suggested that he might need to have his own eyes adjusted after seeing Gilberto Silva dismissed for committing two fouls and Shearer receiving only "one cosmetic booking when the game was over." Perhaps the disappearance into the mists of his team's nominal title hopes had clouded his vision.

True, Shearer ought to have been shown a yellow card for a scything challenge on Sol Campbell, and Gilberto's second booking was decidedly harsh. But, then, Shearer was guilty of nothing more cynical than the leading elbow and raised knee of Jens Lehmann that left Scott Parker minus a tooth and needing to bite on a gauze to continue, and which also passed without punishment from the referee, Dermot Gallagher. And, as Souness pointed out, Gilberto's dismissal was no harsher than that of Jermaine Jenas when the teams met at Highbury in August.

In truth, Arsenal were once again victims of their own toothlessness. They had Newcastle chasing shadows for half-an-hour before the interval but failed to administer punishment, due to some gilding of the lily on the part of Thierry Henry and to one brilliant reflex save by Shay Given. Critically, they also lacked the bite to match Newcastle when Parker got his teeth and his gums stuck into them from the start of the second half.

Shearer played his part, too - not least with the muscular shielding and release of the ball that prompted Nolberto Solano's winning goal, eight minutes from time, but it was Parker who made the crucial difference. He played like a man inspired, just like an ancient hero, you might say. Fittingly enough, he was borne from the field, gladiator-style, after one taking clattering challenge too many.

He left Wenger counting the cost of a fifth defeat on the road this season, of a 17-point gap to Chelsea, the visitors to Highbury next Sunday and of failing to invest £6m last summer in the kind of player that anyone of the slightest vision can see is clearly needed by the one-time "Invincibles of the Premiership", Arsène Wenger's mere Vincibles.

Goal: Solano (82) 1-0.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Given; Ramage, Boumsong, Bramble, Elliott; Solano, Parker (Bowyer, 74), Faye, Ameobi; Shearer, Owen (Chopra, 89). Substitutes not used: Harper (gk), Luque, Brittain.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Lehmann; Touré, Senderos, Campbell, Lauren; Ljungberg, Gilberto, Fabregas (Owusu-Abeyie, 85), Hleb (Flamini, 63); Van Persie (Pires, 85), Henry. Substitutes not used: Almunia (gk), Eboué.

Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire)

Booked: Newcastle Faye, Shearer; Arsenal Gilberto. Sent off: Gilberto (57).

Man of the match: Parker.

Attendance: 52,297.

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