Mesut Ozil’s wonder goal was enough to give Arsenal three vital points in the festive period of games as the Gunners sealed a 1-0 win against Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium.
After dominating most of the first half, a great counter-attack resulted in Jamaal Lascelles fluffing his lines and giving the ball to Ozil, but despite the ball being in the air, the German playmaker struck the ball on the half-volley to score one of the goals of the season, and to seal three massive points for Arsene Wenger’s side.
Academy players shine for Gunners
The Gunners got off to a lively start as kick-off commenced at the Emirates. Alexis Sanchez and Alex Iwobi were allowed to roam the wings and cut inside a sleeping Newcastle defence, and Alexandre Lacazette was able to attack the Toon goal with strikes from distance.
Hector Bellerin nearly put the hosts ahead nine minutes in, when some great football outside the penalty box allowed Lacazette to strike at Rob Elliot, but his save flew straight into the feet of Bellerin, but the Spaniard’s shot was well blocked.
Academy player Ainsley Maitland-Niles came inches wide of giving Arsenal a deserved lead, as the 20-year-old midfielder took on the entire Newcastle defence with his mazy run but the German's strike from the edge of the penalty area flew inches wide of the Magpies' stopper.
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Özil sets the pace
After mountains of pressure an many chances from distance, Arsenal finally opened the scoring 25 minutes in through German playmaker Ozil.
After a quick counter attack started by Jack Wilshere, the midfielder played in Iwobi down the right wing, who crossed the ball back into Sanchez The Chilean’s shot rebounded off Lascelles, into the path of Ozil, and the former Real Madrid midfielder connected with the ball perfectly to beat Elliot with an exquisite volley.
Granit Xhaka came close to making it 2-0 12 minutes from halftime, as the Swiss midfielder found himself with acres of space outside the area and tried his luck from distance, but his well hit shot flew wide of the post.
Arsenal continue on offensive
The second half continued the standard of attacking Arsenal kept up in the first half. Wilshere and Sanchez were major threats for the Newcastle defence, which still allowed the Gunners attack to threaten Elliot’s goal.
Newcastle finally emerged from their defensive shell with the introduction of Matt Ritchie to the pitch, and the results were instant as Rafa Benitez’s side finally attacked the Arsenal goal. Petr Cech was forced into a save 62 minutes in when Ayoze Perez danced through the Arsenal defence, and tried his luck from 18-yards out, but Cech reacted well to the shot.
Arsene Wenger opted to bring on Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck in the final 15 minutes, and the decision made an instant impact when Giroud teed up Wilshere outside the penalty area, but the English midfielder’s shot was well held by Elliot.
The Toon looked better in the second half, but the side came to life in the final ten minutes. The pace of Dwight Gayle made it hard for a tired Arsenal defence to keep track of, and Cech had to be ready on multiple occasions to make saves to keep his side in.
Arsenal held the wave of late pressure at bay however, as the hosts were able to see out a 1-0 win.