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KEEGAN BLAST; Newcastle 1 Arsenal 2.

Kevin Keegan threatened a St James's Park clear-out after the Magpies were shot down by 10-man Gunners.

This defeat means big spenders Newcastle have gone five games without a win.

And United boss Keegan isn't happy about it. He said: "We were poor throughout.

"It wouldn't take too many performances like that before I change personnel.

"It was an extremely disappointing performance. I've got no qualms about the result - justice was done."

Goals from Lee Dixon and Ian Wright gave Arsenal the points and leadership of the Premiership - at Newcastle's expense.

Their task wasn't made any easier by the 23rd minute dismissal of Arsenal skipper Tony Adams - England's captain in their last match - after a clash with the man he replaced, Newcastle's goalscorer Alan Shearer.

He went for what the referee deemed was a professional foul.

Yet even Keegan conceded: "The sending off was bizarre. It was tough luck on Adams, but in the end it probably worked against us.

"At times it looked as if we had 10 men and they had 11."

The Arsenal players clearly felt that Shearer's reaction contributed to Adams's dismissal, which led to one or two unsavoury incidents.

But the referee must take his share of the blame for an ill-tempered match that saw eight players booked.

Yet the match began brightly, with Dixon put the Gunners ahead with a flying header after 11 minutes - Wright's superb control creating the opening.

That goal set the pattern for a period of precise Arsenal passing that seemed to suggest that Newcastle were in for an embarrassing afternoon.

But Arsenal's dominance was shaken by an explosive three-minute spell midway through the first half when Shearer reacted faster than keeper John Lukic to nod home David Ginola's deflected cross.

Within two minutes Shearer was at the centre of a row as Adams was given his marching orders.

When Adams fouled Shearer on the edge of the box the Arsenal players were looking for an offside flag against Faustino Asprilla that never came.

And the visitors were incensed by Shearer's protests.

The Gunners were fortunate that Wright was the only visiting player booked in that incident as tempers boiled over.

Predictably, the Magpies took control for long spells of the game without ever showing enough guile to unlock the visitors' defence.

Wright showed them how, with a well-taken breakaway goal after Paul Merson's snap shot.

The ball broke off Darren Peacock to allow Wright to slip home a left- foot shot.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said: "The sending off was a bit harsh but we showed tremendous character when we were down to 10 men."

And a buoyant Wright boomed: "If we are still on top at Christmas our experience will see us through."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:McNALLY, BRIAN
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 1, 1996
Words:455
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