After an initial chance or two for Arsenal, the game was marred by defensive sloppiness—matched, luckily for the Gunners, by offensive sloppiness from Newcastle. The Magpies had four corners within the opening fifteen minutes and couldn’t convert any of them. Shkodran Mustafi headed a dangerous ball clear in one instance, making up for earlier errors. Petr Cech also did his job when asked, saving a shot on goal and allowing his outfield players to get it clear.
Later in the first half, Arsenal looked more threatening on the counterattack, but between a few overhit passes, Alexandre Lacazette hitting the side netting, and Aaron Ramsey skying one over the goal, they weren’t able to capitalize. Arsenal nearly opened the scoring after forty minutes, but amid chaos in the box they couldn’t get control of the ball. Newcastle’s subsequent counterattack stopped when Sokratis took the ball off of Ayoze Pérez, upending him in the process. The half ended with both teams tied at nil.
Arsenal opened the second half as they had played the first, but quickly won a free kick ten yards or so outside of Newcastle’s box. Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira, subbed on at halftime for Matteo Guendouzi, stood over the ball, and Xhaka took the shot, hitting a side-spinner that turned into the top right corner after glancing off the fingertips of goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Xhaka with a stunning free-kick to give Arsenal the lead against Newcastle. 1-0 pic.twitter.com/2xovmd9Taa— Terje (@TerjeGIFs) September 15, 2018
The first goal seemed to wake the Gunners up, and they kept the pressure on Newcastle, scoring their second nine minutes later. Xhaka’s cross found Lacazette, who bounced his shot off of a few Newcastle defenders, but Mesut Özil was there to collect the rebound, skipping it past Dubravka into the bottom left corner.
Özil makes it doubles the lead against Newcastle on his 200th appearance for Arsenal. 2-0 pic.twitter.com/v2fXucERIj— Terje (@TerjeGIFs) September 15, 2018
Arsenal nearly got a third directly afterward, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was forced to shoot at a tight angle and sent the ball across the front of the goal. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, having replaced Aubameyang with twenty minutes to go, couldn’t do it either—after getting the ball from Ramsey, he took a fraction of a second too long to shoot, allowing defender Paul Dummett to run in and block the shot.
Newcastle lost some of their composure after the first of Arsenal’s goals, and they allowed the Gunners to hog the ball and dictate the pace of play for most of the second half. They didn’t get a good chance until a header from Joselu in the 87th minute, but the shot was high and straight at Cech, who tipped it safely over the crossbar. Arsenal eased off the gas pedal as the game moved into stoppage time, though, and Newcastle got a second chance, which Ciaran Clark headed down and past Cech into the corner. The Arsenal keeper will have to wait a little longer for his first clean sheet of the season.
Arsenal’s next game is a Europa League group stage match against Ukrainian club FC Vorskla Poltava next Thursday, and their next Premier League match is a home game against Everton on Sunday of next week.