Arsenal returned to winning ways as goals from Mohamed Elneny and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang secured a dominant 2-0 victory over Newcastle at St James’ Park.
Mohamed Elneny volleyed in his first Premier League goal inside five minutes before Aubameyang marked his first start since April 3 with the Gunners’ second midway through the second half.
Newcastle had moved to within touching distance of mathematical Premier League safety with a four-game unbeaten run before Arsenal’s trip to Tyneside but were completely outplayed, registering just a single attempt on target, before Fabian Schar’s late dismissal compounded a miserable outing for Steve Bruce’s side.
Arsenal’s first league win in three lifts them up to ninth and provides a timely boost ahead of Thursday’s Europa League showdown with Villarreal, while Newcastle stay 17th, nine points clear of the relegation zone with four games remaining.
Newcastle: Dubravka (5), Clark (5), Fernandez (5), Dummett (5), Ritchie (6), S. Longstaff (5), Shelvey (5), Murphy (4), Almiron (6), Saint-Maximin (6), Wilson (5).
Subs: Schar (1), Joelinton (n/a), Gayle (n/a).
Away Team: Ryan (8), Bellerin (6), Gabriel (7), Luiz (6), Elneny (8), Xhaka (6), Ceballos (7), Odegaard (7), Willian (6), Martinelli (8), Aubameyang (7).
Subs: Chambers (6), Pepe (n/a), Partey (n/a)
Man of the Match: Gabriel Martinelli.
Arsenal outclass Newcastle ahead of Europa showdown
Mikel Arteta left no room for doubt that salvaging Arsenal’s season in Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg against Villarreal was the priority as he made eight changes from midweek first-leg defeat.
But instead of weakening his side, Arteta’s alterations inspired Arsenal to a dominant first-half performance which was capped with the opener inside five minutes.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should have delivered it on his return to the Arsenal starting line-up but his mis-hit from Hector Bellerin’s cross turned the ball into the path of Elneny, who volleyed in his first Premier League goal for the Gunners at the 66th attempt.
- Callum Wilson replaced Joelinton in Newcastle’s only change from the dramatic draw at Liverpool.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made his first Premier League start since April 3 as Arsenal made eight changes from the Europa League defeat at Villarreal.
Arsenal’s breakthrough momentarily sparked Newcastle into life and they almost equalised on 18 minutes when Allan Saint-Maximin’s scuffed shot looked set to loop in, but Mat Ryan scrambled back in time to tip it over and the Magpies wouldn’t register another attempt on target in the half.
Instead, Arsenal peppered the Newcastle goal in search of a second, with Granit Xhaka’s left-footed thunderbolt forcing a fine save from Martin Dubravka before Miguel Almiron prevented Elneny heading in his second from a corner with a brilliant goal-line clearance.
A tactical alternation shifted Newcastle further up the field after the break and the hosts were more competitive, but the better chances continued to fall for Arsenal, with Gabriel Magalhaes heading a glorious opportunity over on 63 minutes.
But Arsenal’s second soon came in emphatic style as a flowing one-touch move ended with Gabriel Martinelli exquisitely finding Aubameyang at the back post to volley in his first goal since March 6.
Jonjo Shelvey’s blocked shot from distance was a close as Newcastle came to salvaging something from the game, and things went from bad to worse in stoppage time when Schar, making his first appearance since February 6, was given his marching orders for a rash lunge on Martinelli.
Gunners torment Toon – Match stats
- Newcastle have lost 16 of their last 17 Premier League matches against Arsenal, including each of the last six in a row since beating them at home in April 2018 under Rafael Benítez.
- Arsenal have beaten Newcastle in six consecutive games in all competitions without conceding a single goal – it’s the third time they have done so against an opponent, the others being Barnsley (1952-1998) and Blackburn Rovers (2003-2005).
- Arsenal have won 12 Premier League matches at St. James’ Park (P26 W12 D8 L6) – their joint-most at any away venue in the competition (also 12 at Villa Park and Goodison Park).
- Newcastle have managed to keep only one clean sheet in their last 21 Premier League matches at St. James’ Park, doing so in a goalless draw against Liverpool in December.
- Mohamed Elneny scored his first Premier League goal for Arsenal in his 66th appearance for them in the competition, with what was his 49th shot. Of the 129 players to score for Arsenal in the Premier League, only five have had to wait longer for their first goal – Gaël Clichy (110th app), Lee Dixon (95th), Tony Adams (76th), John Jensen (72nd) and Emmanuel Eboué (71st).
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored in each of his last five appearances against Newcastle in all competitions – he is the first Arsenal player to score in five consecutive matches against an opponent since Olivier Giroud netted in six straight against Aston Villa between 2013-2016.
‘Newcastle handed initiative to Arsenal’
Sky Sports’ Graeme Souness:
“Arsenal were very impressive; from the get-go they were on the front foot. Newcastle didn’t get going, the initiative was handed to Arsenal and they bossed it from the first minute through to the last.
“Newcastle knew one more win would make them safe and they to start right against an Arsenal side who may have an eye on the Europa League game in midweek.
“Newcastle turned up as if their season was already over and that shouldn’t have been the case against a team that was a little bit fragile.”
What the managers said…
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce: “The better team won, that’s for sure. Arsenal were very good and weren’t quite at the level we have been for the last few weeks. When you play against the big teams you cannot afford to gift them a goal like we did, it’s always difficult to be down after four minutes and we found it tough.
“We stuck at it, our best period of the game was just after half-time, but they scored again, and we didn’t carry the threat we’ve carried before, which was unfortunate.
“I couldn’t fault the effort and commitment from the players, we simply weren’t good enough on the day to beat them.”
Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta: “This game showed our focus is still there in the Premier League. We believe that anything is possible if you’re picking up points and we wanted to put bad results out of the way.
“We had a great attitude, some moments of real quality and had total control from the start. We refreshed the team because we’ve played so many games. Thursday was very demanding, but the team was really committed and focussed on this game and that’s why we won.
“We controlled the game and we accelerated when it was needed. The early goal gave us confidence which we needed after the defeat on Thursday. We have to do as well as we can and finish as high as we can. You need big performances and we had that today.”
Arsenal host Villarreal in their Europa League semi-final second leg on Thursday at 8pm. Newcastle travel to Leicester on Friday Night Football at 8pm – live on Sky Sports Premier League – before Arsenal entertain West Brom on Sunday at 7pm.