By Ed Elliot, PA
Arsenal missed the chance to move 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League after their 100 per cent home record was ended by a frustrating goalless draw with high-flying Newcastle.
The Gunners faded from a promising start and rarely threatened to break down the division’s stingiest defence during a forgettable evening at a sold-out Emirates Stadium.
Both sides had penalty appeals waved away but neither could genuinely claim to deserve more than a point from a fractious encounter of eight yellow cards but few chances.
Eddie Nketiah was denied a late winner by a fine save from Magpies goalkeeper Nick Pope as the hosts failed to score in the league for the first time this season.
Mikel Arteta’s men stretched their lead at the summit to eight points courtesy of the stalemate, albeit that advantage can be cut to five when Manchester City travel to Chelsea on Thursday.
Newcastle remain third after becoming the first visiting team to take points off the Gunners since Brighton secured a 2-1 victory in north London back in April.
The Magpies, who have realistic ambitions of European qualification this term, are now 13 league games unbeaten following their second successive goalless draw.
Arsenal were unchanged from their thrilling 4-2 win at Brighton on New Year’s Eve and immediately set about trying to tear apart a backline which has conceded just 11 top-flight goals this term.
Captain Martin Odegaard volleyed over, while the lively Bukayo Saka went close after skinning Dan Burn, before Granit Xhaka scuffed off target following fine work from Nketiah.
Newcastle’s capacity away following overcame national train strikes to make the 560-mile round-trip to the capital for the evening kick-off.
Seeking a response to a 0-0 draw with Leeds, the hardy Magpies fans saw recalled striker Callum Wilson fire straight at Aaron Ramsdale from distance and Fabian Schar head over inside the opening 20 minutes.
The rapid start quickly subsided into a more fragmented affair featuring a flurry of bookings, which enlivened the crowd and both benches.
Gabriel Magalhaes directed a looping header narrowly wide amid the frequent flashes of yellow from referee Andrew Madley, while the Gunners defender also survived a VAR check on a possible penalty at the other end following Burn’s tumble in the box.
Eddie Howe’s side almost snatched a half-time lead in added time but Joelinton was unable to direct his far-post header on target after Schar flicked on Kieran Trippier’s inswinging corner.
Match official Madley was jeered off at the break but initially continued to brandish cards early in the second period, during which Wilson threatened to apply the finishing touch to a dangerous Miguel Almiron cross following a careless Ramsdale error.
Magpies left-back Burn, who felt aggrieved not to be awarded a spot-kick in the first half, was then fortunate to escape punishment for a shirt pull on Gabriel in his own area.
Gabriel Martinelli glanced wide from an Odegaard corner with 10 minutes remaining, before Pope’s outstretched leg superbly repelled Nketiah’s 87th-minute effort.
Arsenal were given five minutes of stoppage time to chase a winner.
Gunners players surrounded the referee deep into the additional period when claiming a penalty for a possible handball by substitute Jacob Murphy but the appeals were dismissed as their title charge suffered a minor setback.