Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil helped Arsenal earn their third straight Premier League win on the trot after the Gunners overcame a stubborn Newcastle side at St James’ Park.
Xhaka’s top bracket free kick got the ball rolling before Ozil’s calm finish added the gloss to the visitors’ three points. The hosts did pull one back through substitute Ciaran Clark, but it was too late for the Magpies, who are still looking for their first win of the Premier League
Check out our breakdown of the game below.
Key Talking Point
As is consistently the case with Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle side, they sat deep and invited pressure, looking to hit the opposition on the counter with the pace of Ayoze Perez, Jacob Murphy and Matt Ritchie.
The problem Rafa is still struggling with, however, is his team’s inability to carve out and then put away chances, and at the top level, the punishments for this are ruthless.
A confident start from Newcastle, with intensity supplied in abundance by Perez, Joselu and the searing pace of Murphy, was causing problems early on. However, there was no evidence to back this up, with the Magpies forcing Petr Cech into his first save in the 88th minute.
Once Arsenal changed things up at half-time, they came out a different animal, one that Rafa’s men couldn’t contend with.
Bar Clark’s very late goal, which didn’t reflect the nature of the game, Newcastle were much inferior to Arsenal in terms of quality and this issue is something Benitez will have to address if Newcastle are to avoid a relegation battle this season.
Newcastle are sure bankers to relegate. Absolute poverty in player quality upfront, totally relaint on working the ball wide and crossing in.Injuries now starting to pile as well. Hard to see how they will get points this season.
— Babanla (@biolakazeem) September 15, 2018
Starting XI: Dubravka (4), Yedlin (5), Lascelles (6), Fernandez (6), Dummett (6), Ritchie (6), Hayden (5), Diame (5), Murphy (6), Perez (6), Joselu (5).
Substitutes: Clark (6), Kenedy (4), Muto (5).
STAR MAN – Although two goals were conceded, Federico Fernandez was largely impressive at the back, in what was a very lacklustre team performance.
In the first half Arsenal couldn’t manage a shot on goal, primarily due to the performance of Fernandez and his captain Lascelles, who departed at half-time.
Subsequently, the new centre back partnership afforded the Gunners more opportunities on goal in the second 45 and, in turn, the qualities of Arsenal’s firepower ended Newcastle’s resilience.
WORST PLAYER – While the star man was the dominant Fernandez, both Arsenal goals were most definitely avoidable.
Dubravka had a game he will be in a hurry to forget, having got a hand to both Xhaka and Ozil’s left footed strikes.
His poor afternoon showing was summed up with a relatively simple 15 yard chip out to his full back DeAndre Yedlin that ended up in the first few rows of Newcastle fans.
Cheap free kick give away by Fernandez but not sure Dubravka should be beaten from 30 yards. Once goal went in Arsenal confident, well on top. Poor defending has invited that second goal. Rafa should have had subs on ASAP after going behind. Only 1 team in it now. #NEWARS
— The Mag (@NUFCTheMag) September 15, 2018
Key Talking Point
In truth, Unai Emery’s men made a simple task look unnecessarily complicated, something followers of the Gunners will have heard on timeless occasions before. After the initial pressure from the hosts’ forward line, Arsenal dictated the tempo and began to play the Emery way.
The major turning point in the game came at the interval, as the introduction of Lucas Torreira helped the Gunners’ front line turn on the style.
The game wasn’t without more headaches for Emery as problems at the back, predominantly from Shkodran Mustafi once again who is still struggling to adapt to life at the north London club.
However, with three consecutive wins for Emery’s outfit, they are starting to look more like a side that are gelling and with time could be capable of posing a threat to most sides in the league.
Starting XI: Cech (6), Bellerin (7), Sokratis (8), Mustafi (6), Monreal (6), Xhaka (7), Guendouzi (6), Ramsey (6), Ozil (7), Aubameyang (6), Lacazette (7).
Substitutes: Torreira (9), Mkhitaryan (6), Welbeck (6).
STAR MAN – Uruguayan enforcer Torreira entirely changed the dynamic of the game at half time. He set the tempo of the second half phenomenally with his intensity and technical ability on the ball, and seems to be the player Arsenal have needed for over a decade.
Transitioning play from the back became effortlessly simple with the diminutive hardman in the middle of the park, and he seems to be one of few who has understood straightaway what Emery wants and how he wants this team to play.
WORST PLAYER – At the other side of the spectrum lies Shkodran Mustafi, who made multiple mistakes when put under little to no pressure.
Against a side like Newcastle who struggle for goals, these lapses in concentration usually result only in a slap on the wrist, but against a top side the mistakes Mustafi made on Saturday will only in Arsenal losing.
Undoubtedly the biggest problem for Emery so far in his Arsenal tenure has been his backline and once again on Saturday there was a huge weak link in the back four. Sokratis did a very good job of covering his partner at the back, but it is an issue Emery will have to sort out sooner rather than later.
Mustafi just did the most Mustafi thing you will ever see, fortunately Sokratis bailed him out excellently.
— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) September 15, 2018