A much-changed Arsenal side ended Newcastle’s strong run of form with a 2-0 victory away at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon in the Premier League.
The win provides a much-needed confidence boost for the Gunners after a tricky 2-1 defeat at the hands of Villarreal in their Europa League semi-final first leg on Thursday.
Mohamed Elneny gave Arsenal the lead just five minutes into the game with his first ever Premier League goal – a volley into the bottom left corner after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang mistimed his own effort.
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Aubameyang then compensated for his poor first-half with an acrobatic goal two-thirds of the way into the game to continue his strong record in matches against Newcastle.
The Arsenal captain made it six goals in eight games versus Newcastle after Gabriel Martinelli found some space on the left flank and whipped in a cross for him at the far post. Instead of heading it, Aubameyang flew through the air to hook it into the back of the net from close range and double Arsenal’s lead.
Newcastle were reliant on Allan Saint-Maximin for inspiration and rarely offered anything going forwards.
Things went from bad to worse for them when they were reduced to ten men in stoppage time following Fabian Schar’s red card for a late tackle on Martinelli.
Thanks to Fulham’s loss yesterday though, they remain nine points clear of the drop, while Arsenal move up two places into ninth place.
Mohamed Elneny of Arsenal celebrates after scoring their side’s first goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St. James Park on May 02, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne
Image credit: Getty Images
TALKING POINT – Does Arteta know his strongest XI?
Making eight changes from Thursday’s defeat to Villarreal, today’s Arsenal starting XI was supposedly a second-string one, but on paper is it any weaker than Thursday’s line-up?
While Hector Bellerin and David Luiz have not shown their best form for a while, are they really worse than Rob Holding and Calum Chambers? Based on both past career and time at Arsenal, many would argue Gabriel is better than Pablo Mari too.
Looking further forward, Nicolas Pepe may have scored a penalty on Thursday, but his form since joining has been less than impressive, especially in comparison to Martinelli.
At times it feels like Mikel Arteta’s approach to team selection is slightly scatterbrain. Xhaka still being used as a stand-in left-back and Mat Ryan making a rare appearance in goal highlight that level of unpredictability.
There is nothing wrong with squad rotation, but it is hard to develop any consistency if there is no continuity in team selections.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)
Earlier in the week, former Arsenal defender and many of their fans speculated that Arteta simply does not like Martinelli. It is easy to understand why considering that before today, the Brazilian attacker was restricted to just five Premier League starts this season and no starts in Europe. Today he was a constant threat down the left, regularly getting the better of Jacob Murphy and he capped off a brilliant performance with an assist for the second goal. If that does not give Arteta a selection headache and force him to give Martinelli more first team minutes, then I do not know what else will.
Newcastle: Dubravka 5, Fernandez 5, Clark 6, Dummett 6, Murphy 5, Ritchie 7, Longstaff 6, Shelvey 5, Almiron 5, Wilson 5, Saint-Maximin 7…Subs: Schar 4, Joelinton 6, Gayle N/A
Arsenal: Ryan 7, Xhaka 7, Gabriel 7, Luiz 7, Bellerin 7, Ceballos 7, Elneny 8, Martinelli 8, Odegaard 8, Willian 7, Aubameyang 7…Subs: Chambers 6, Pepe 6, Partey N/A
5′ – GOAL!!! Arsenal take an early lead! David Luiz picks out Bellerin on the right flank. He then pulls it back to Aubameyang, who mistimes his effort, which falls to Elneny for a volley into the bottom corner and his first ever Premier League goal!
18′ – CLOSE! After a sluggish start, Newcastle are enjoying a better spell now. Ritchie finds Saint-Maximin on the edge of the box, who has a tricky looping effort tipped over by Ryan. At first glance it looked like he scuffed that one!
29′ – SAVED THEN OFF THE LINE!! Arsenal go close twice. Xhaka has a shot from range pushed out for a corner by Dubravka, then Willian’s corner is headed goalwards by Elneny. Fernandez heading it off the line is the only thing that comes between the Egyptian and a second goal.
66′ – GOAL!!! Fantastic move from the Gunners, as some quick passing leads to Martinelli having the ball in acres of space on the left. He whips a cross into the far post above head height, yet Aubameyang impressively flies in to hook the ball into the back of the net while in mid-air!
80′ – CLOSE! Longstaff takes his free-kick quickly, which sets Murphy free with the ball. He finds Joelinton, who then passes the ball onto Shelvey whose subsequent shot is blocked. Maybe the best chance of the game for Newcastle, although that’s not saying much really.
90′ – HE’S OFF!! A needlessly low and aggressive tackle from Schar, giving Martinelli’s ankle the full face of his studs. There’s a long VAR check afterwards to check the right decision was made, but there’s no point really because that red card is as clear as daylight. Now, after only just returning from a two-and-a-half month spell out injured, Schar will have to sit out a few more games.
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