Arsenal beat Newcastle with a comfortable, 2-0 win in a match that you’d hope and expect the Gunners to win easily. It’s kinda nice, isn’t it? There wasn’t much in the match today — Arsenal controlled the match from start to finish with Newcastle only troubling Mat Ryan’s penalty area a few times. Mohamed Elneny scored his first Premier League goal in the 5th minute. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added a second in the 66th minute. And that was all she wrote.
Gabriel Martinelli, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hector Bellerin, Martin Ødegaard, Mohamed Elneny, Gabriel Magalhaes, David Luiz, and Mat Ryan all put in strong performances for the Gunners. Dani Ceballos bounced-back from his nightmare outing on Thursday against Villarreal. Granit Xhaka was his usual, solid self. Willian played.
It’s not surprising how playing guys in their proper position brings positive results. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, deployed through the middle, worked himself into good positions for shot attempts and eventually scored. He needs the freedom of playing centrally with less defensive responsibility to be most effective at finding pockets of space in the box.
Hector Bellerin, an actual right back, looked significantly better going forward and participating in the attack than Calum Chambers has looked at the position. I really hope that Bellerin gets the nod at right back on Thursday — Arsenal need his pace and passing down the flank. He provides so much more of a threat and creates more chances.
It’s a shame that David Luiz picked up a hamstring injury, putting his availability for Thursday into question. His long passing, especially switching the point of attack, opened things up for the Gunners. Rob Holding is a more reliable defender, but he doesn’t spread the pitch in the same way, and that limits Arsenal offensively.
I liked Mat Ryan’s command of his area. He claimed at least two crosses that I’m not sure Bernd Leno would have snatched out of the air. Leno keeping his spot for Villarreal after his blunder against Everton indicated that he’s still locked into the number one spot, but I think there’s not much to separate the Arsenal keepers at the moment.
Arsenal’s attack today was a good illustration of what myself, Aidan, and others have been saying for a while: it’s about balance and synergy. Gabriel Martinelli and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are both direct players that work well together because they play similar styles. When Martinelli drives at / around his man, Aubameyang is making a corresponding vertical run into the area to get on the end of a cutback. Martinelli attacking down the left and Hector Bellerin getting forward on the right provided a threat from both sides and balanced the attack.
All eyes now shift to Villarreal’s visit to the Emirates on Thursday. Arsenal head into the biggest match of the season and one of the biggest in club history on a high note.