Arsenal ended a race of three games without a win in all competitions by beating Newcastle 2-0 at St James’ Park.
Arsenal started sharply and took the lead after just five minutes. David Luiz floated a ball forward to Hector Bellerin, who cut it back into the box. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang failed miserably, but it bounced nicely on the edge of the box to Mohamed Elneny.
The Egyptian midfielder hit the ball on the rebound to get his first ever Premier League goal.
Newcastle tried to react in the early setback, with Allan Saint-Maximin surprisingly proving to be central in their attack going forward. One of his deflected shots forced a clever tip over the bar from Arsenal goalkeeper Mat Ryan.
Opposite shot-stopper Martin Dubravka was called to similar action when Granit Xhaka hit a left-footed shot from distance. The Magpies goalkeeper met it with a hand with a save.
Arsenal grew back to it after a period of Newcastle pressure. A second chance came when Martin Odegaard took a free kick from an inviting field, but hit it in the wall.
The Gunners were forced to make a change early in the second half when David Luiz limped off. Calum Chambers came in for the Brazilian, who may be wondering if he can play again this season.
Arsenal double advantage after the break
Midway through the second half, Ryan was kept alert when he came to demand a post. Newcastle had not formed many chances, but it was a reminder that they were still a threat.
But Arsenal went straight down the other end and doubled their lead. After some patient construction, Odegaard slipped the ball to Gabriel Martinelli, who played a first-time cross. Aubameyang slid through the air and connected with the inside of the foot to guide it home.
There was a quick VAR check as Martinelli appeared to be offside. But the goal was allowed to stand, which gave Newcastle plenty of work to do.
The wind was not yet knocked out of their sails and Jonjo Shelvey got a shot from outside the area blocked by chambers.
Trying to reduce the deficit, Steve Bruce turned to his bench. In recent weeks, he would have brought Joe Willock forward at this point, but the Arsenal borrower was not eligible. Instead, he pulled Ciaran Clark back and sent Dwight Gayle on, adding an extra attacking body.
But their dwindling hopes of a comeback took another hit as Fabian Schar slipped through Martinelli’s back with his sticks shown. The defender, who had only come in with 20 minutes left, was given a straight red card.
It further dampened Newcastle’s mood as Arsenal saw the win. The hosts still need to be safe from relegation, but it was a disappointing day for them in general.
As for Arsenal, their confidence will have increased as they await the second leg of their Europa League semi-final against Villarreal.
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