Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice as Arsenal beat Newcastle to move into the top 10 of the Premier League and increase the pressure on Magpies boss Steve Bruce.
Aubameyang, who had earlier hit the post from a tight angle in the first half, opened the scoring in the 50th minute when he fired past Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow.
Arsenal doubled their lead as Emile Smith Rowe’s pullback found Bukayo Saka and the England international side-footed the ball into the net.
Aubameyang, 31, got his second and the Gunners’ third after Cedric Soares, in his first league start of the season, got to the byline and set up the striker.
The Gabon international scored 29 goals in all competitions last season, including 22 in the Premier League, but he had previously struggled for goals in 2020-21.
This double took his league total to five for the campaign and boss Mikel Arteta was pleased to see Aubameyang return to form.
“He needed that for his confidence and the team needs that to be successful,” said the Gunners manager.
“We were missing his goals, we all know that, so to have them back is great for the team.”
Miguel Almiron had Newcastle’s best chance but shot over from the edge of the penalty area when it was goalless.
The victory takes Arsenal above Aston Villa into 10th, with the Gunners seven points adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool in the last Champions League qualifying spot.
Newcastle are 15th, seven points clear of 18th-placed Fulham, although the London side have a game in hand.
For Bruce, who faced calls for his resignation after last week’s 1-0 loss to bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United, his side have now not won in nine matches in all competitions.
Arsenal’s revival continues
Arsenal are in danger of having their worst Premier League season since 1994-95 when they finished 12th – the last time they failed to qualify for European football.
After Mikel Arteta replaced Unai Emery in December 2019, the Gunners finished eighth last season, although they did win the FA Cup in August.
Despite 2020-21 having been a tough campaign for them so far, there have been recent signs of revival and this win extends their unbeaten run to six matches.
They dominated possession at Emirates Stadium and should have taken a 14th-minute lead. Smith Rowe did well to release Saka and his low cross found Aubameyang, but, off balance and from a tight angle, he could only hit the post with the goal unguarded.
Aubameyang twice more failed to hit the target when well placed and David Luiz should have done better with a free header.
But it only took five minutes of the second half to make a breakthrough as Thomas Partey’s pass forward let Aubameyang run at the Newcastle defence from the halfway line and he blasted in only his second league goal in 10 games.
It became 2-0 10 minutes later when Smith Rowe did well down the left flank and his pass helped Saka score for the third time in six matches.
Soares then made a fine run down the opposite wing and his pullback was steered into the net by Aubameyang, whose return to goalscoring form is a massive boost for the Gunners.
Attacking line-up does not change Newcastle’s fortunes
Before the game, Bruce defended the job he was doing with the Magpies and said he would not quit and would “do my utmost to make this better”.
Bruce, whose arrival followed the departure of fan-favourite Rafael Benitez in 2019, added that criticism of him “had been personal from day one”, and that “certain people think I shouldn’t have been in the job to start with”.
Newcastle became the first side to lose a Premier League game this season against bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United, with a 1-0 defeat on 12 January and Bruce later admitted he had picked the wrong team.
But against Arsenal, Bruce made eight changes, with attacking players Joelinton, Almiron, Andy Carroll and Callum Wilson all starting as he pushed to get his side’s first win since a 2-1 victory over West Brom on 12 December.
However, the Magpies still struggled to create opportunities as Joelinton and Wilson had very quiet games. Almiron shot over in the first half and Carroll fired an effort wide in the second, but they never looked like producing a fightback after the hosts took the lead.
In fact, only a number of fine saves from Darlow, who twice denied Alexandre Lacazette and kept out a deflected Aubameyang cross, saved Newcastle from a wider margin of defeat on another worrying day for Magpies’ fans.
Seven games without a league win for Newcastle – the stats
- Arsenal have kept five consecutive clean sheets in all competitions for the first time since February 2009 (six in total in that run).
- Newcastle are without a win in seven Premier League games (drew two, lost five), their longest run without a victory in the competition since October 2018 (10).
- There were just nine days between this win and Arsenal’s 2-0 FA Cup victory against Newcastle at the Emirates on January 9th, the shortest gap for the Gunners between home wins against the same opponent since January 2008, when they beat Newcastle twice at the Emirates in the space of three days.
- Newcastle made eight changes to their starting XI in the Premier League for the first time ever and are the first side to make 8+ changes in the competition since Manchester City also made eight against Burnley in June 2020.
- Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made his 400th appearance in European League football (Arsenal 102, Borussia Dortmund 144, St Etienne 87, Monaco 19, Lille 14 and Dijon 34).
- Aubameyang has either scored (five) or assisted (two) in six of his seven games against Newcastle in all competitions, finding the net in each of his last four against the Magpies.
- Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey registered his first league assist in 48 appearances, since April 2019, for Atletico Madrid against Valencia in La Liga.
- Emile Smith Rowe has either scored (two) or assisted (five) in seven of his 10 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions, whilst the Englishman has provided two more assists than any other player for the Gunners this campaign (five).
- Only Nicolas Anelka (30), Cesc Fabregas (28) and Theo Walcott (12) have been involved in more Premier League goals for Arsenal as a teenager than Bukayo Saka (11 – five goals, six assists).
‘Trying to do the best I possible can’ – what they said
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta speaking to BBC Sport: “Really happy overall. Really positive performance, collective and individually we looked really solid and convincing from the first whistle.
“It took us a little bit longer than I expected to score the first goal but I really like the chemistry, cohesion and rhythm the team played with.
“I asked them to attack better, have more options in certain areas but without losing the structure that is needed to control Newcastle’s good players up front. When we did it we were efficient and took our chances.”
On his young players, he added: “They are doing really well because they have the senior ones pushing them, coaching them, helping them all the time. I really like the chemistry.”
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “We gave as good as we got and got into ourselves some decent opportunities but that little bit of confidence has ebbed away – that happens when you are on a run like we are. The only way it comes back is with a couple of victories.
“We always knew we entering a really difficult run of games. To play Arsenal, Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester City we always knew it was going to be difficult against these top teams.
“You have seen their [the players] approach. We are disappointed because we have been caught trying to get forward. Two passes and they are in on our goal.
“That is something we have to learn from and understand. The reason we have been defending deep was to avoid situations like that. We have to get the balance right and we will keep working on it.”
On his own position, he added: “I am trying to do the best I possibly can as always but you will have to ask others about that.”
Arsenal are in action away from home on Saturday at 12:15 GMT in the fourth round of the FA Cup, although they do not yet know who their opponents will be.
They face the winners of the third-round tie between Southampton and League One side Shrewsbury, who play their rearranged match on Tuesday. It could mean back-to-back away games against the Saints as they play at St Mary’s Stadium in the Premier League on Tuesday, 26 January (20:15 GMT).
Newcastle have an away game in the Premier League against Aston Villa on 23 January (20:00 GMT), before entertaining Leeds at home three days later (18:00 GMT).
- 17Cédric Soares
- 23David Luiz
- 18ParteySubstituted forElnenyat 67′minutes
- 32Smith RoweSubstituted forMartinelliat 82′minutes
- 14AubameyangSubstituted forWillianat 79′minutes
- 24AlmirónSubstituted forAndersonat 87′minutes
- 4M LongstaffSubstituted forHendrickat 78′minutes
- 7CarrollSubstituted forMurphyat 69′minutes
- 36S Longstaff
Match ends, Arsenal 3, Newcastle United 0.
Second Half ends, Arsenal 3, Newcastle United 0.
Attempt missed. Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Kieran Tierney.
Offside, Arsenal. David Luiz tries a through ball, but Willian is caught offside.
Willian (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Jacob Murphy (Newcastle United).
Attempt missed. David Luiz (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Willian with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Emil Krafth.
Substitution, Newcastle United. Elliot Anderson replaces Miguel Almirón.
Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle United).
Attempt blocked. Willian (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle United).
Substitution, Arsenal. Gabriel Martinelli replaces Emile Smith Rowe.
Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Jamal Lewis (Newcastle United).
Substitution, Arsenal. Willian replaces Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitution, Newcastle United. Jeff Hendrick replaces Matthew Longstaff.
VAR Decision: Goal Arsenal – Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle United (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang).