Arsenal notched an emphatic win over Newcastle in a game with lots of possession and sparing shots, scoring two goals, keeping a clean sheet, and moving themselves into third place in the league table (ahead of Spurs).
With Hector Bellerin out for the season, Lucas Torreira suspended, and Laurent Koscielny ruled out this morning, defense was always going to be an issue, but the Gunners saw a lot of possession in the opening minutes and mostly kept the pressure off of their back line. They kept Newcastle pinned back around their own penalty box, but couldn’t trouble keeper Martin Dubravka as the minutes ticked by.
Arsenal nearly had one in the 13th minute—Aaron Ramsey caught a looping pass and poked it past Dubravka—but referee Anthony Taylor spotted Sokratis tugging on defender Florian Lejeune’s shirt during the play. Lejeune reacted a bit melodramatically, but the goal was disallowed.
It took Arsenal seventeen more minutes to get another decent chance, and this time the goal stayed on the board. Alexandre Lacazette brought the ball into the box, and Ramsey (I’m going to miss him) collected it and shot past a closing Newcastle defender, banking it off the far post and into the net for the first score of the game.
Newcastle hit back almost immediately, but Salomon Rondon’s shot was no match for Bernd Leno and the subsequent corner came to nothing—no damage done, but a good wake-up call for Arsenal’s defense.
The Gunners had three more good shots in the closing ten minutes of the half, but Dubravka collected the first two balls to prevent any further damage, and Matt Ritchie stopped with his head what would have been a fantastic on-the-volley goal from Lacazette.
Play stopped just five minutes into the second half after Ainsley Maitland-Niles took a painful-looking hit, but the initial shock seemed to be the worst of it, and he stayed on the pitch and got right back into the game. (Maitland-Niles was also the player called for a rare foul throw later on.)
Newcastle had opened the half with a higher press, but they left themselves vulnerable in the back, and soon enough Arsenal had the ball back and resumed their peppering of their opponents’ goal. With half an hour to go, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came on in place of Alex Iwobi to strengthen the attack, and Ramsey was the next to go off, replaced by Mohamed Elneny, probably as a precaution after Rambo sat out most of the international break.
Aubameyang had a good chance shortly after coming on, drawing a save from Dubravka with a long shot, and just as the match looked to be trundling toward a 1-0 finish, Arsenal scored their second. Auba redirected a floating pass toward Newcastle’s goal, and Lacazette beat the back line and lobbed it over Dubravka and into the net. Newcastle, for their part, picked a terrible time to stop defending well, leaving Lacazette far more space and time than he needed.
The second goal prompted another attack from Arsenal as they looked to increase their goal difference, and they promptly had another goal disallowed, this one for...a handball? It was Dubravka’s hand, but the goal came off the board anyway. Newcastle couldn’t respond, and Arsenal ended the game deep in their opponents’ half of the pitch and two goals up.
The Gunners’ next match is
this Thursday, leg one of the Europa League quarterfinals against Napoli, and their next league game is against Watford next Monday. Sunday at Everton, followed by the visit from Napoli in the Europa League on Thursday.