FA Cup Player Ratings: Arsenal vs Newcastle  
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 09: Emile Smith Rowe of Arsenal celebrates with teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after scoring their sides first goal during the FA Cup Third Round match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on January 09, 2021 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Goal scorers Emile Smith-Rowe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang provided the goals for Arsenal in a win that kickstarted The Gunners FA Cup Defence.

Newcastle United made the game very difficult for Arsenal with Steve Bruce’s side keeping 11 men behind the ball for much of the game and congesting the penalty area.

After 90 minutes, the score was still level with the match taken to extra time. Smith-Rowe provided the first goal which was guided beautifully into the bottom corner with a half volley.

Arsenals second consisted of a beautiful sweeping team move with Gunners captain Aubameyang getting on the end of Kieran Tierney’s cross.  

Player Ratings:

Bernd Leno – 7/10 - Leno wasn’t kept that busy throughout this game however, made a double save of the highest quality to stop Andy Carroll from putting the ball in the back of the net late in the second half. 

Cedric – 5/10 - The Arsenal right back had a quiet evening and posed little threat going forwards down the righthand side. Cedric did defend well in moments but unfortunately didn’t play a massive role in this game. 

David Luiz – 6/10 - The 33-year-old Brazilian had a tough game but dealt with the physicality and threat of Andy Carroll well. Some of Luiz’s distribution was poor but, he did try to bring the ball out of defence and take out players with his forward passing. 

Pablo Mari – 7/10 - Quietly brilliant! Mari made some excellent challenges and prevented Newcastle from countering with his excellent positioning and special awareness. Mari doesn’t grab all the headlines with his performance but has been playing very well in recent weeks. 

Kieran Tierney – 9/10 *MOTM* - Kieran Tierney once again was one of the best players on the pitch, constantly causing the Newcastle defenders problems with his bombing runs down the left-hand side.

So many balls were put into the box for Arsenal’s attackers to finish but only one was out away, with Aubameyang finishing from Tierney’s cross in the dying moments of the game. 

Mo Elneny – 7/10 - Elneny struck a composed figure within The Gunners midfield and built up the play very nicely within Arsenal’s half. Elneny worked really hard and defended well for the team but, didn’t offer much going forwards. His passing could have been more positive. 

Joe Willock – 5/10 - Willock tried hard throughout his time on the pitch but unfortunately his lack of close control and some sloppy passes saw him lose possession in more than one occasion.

This game wasn’t one of the young Arsenal starlets best however, some of his passes did link up nicely with the attack. 

Reiss Nelson – 6/10 - Within the first 20 minutes of the game, Nelson was Arsenal’s biggest attacking threat, with the young winger cutting inside and letting some shots off early on.

For the rest of his time on the pitch however, Nelson was disappointing and didn’t get much time on the ball. 

Willian – 4/10 - Willian saw another disappointing performance at Emirates Stadium again with the Brazilian attacker struggling to make an impact on the game.

Willian struggled for all pace and accuracy during the game, spending too much time on the ball. 

Nicholas Pepe – 7/10 - Arsenal’s record signing started the game brightly, showcasing his speed and power within tight situations. Pepe really enjoyed playing dangerous passes in and around the box which should have been finished!

The Ivorian did however play less of a part in the game in the second half, and was substituted for Alexandre Lacazette In the 106th minute. Pepe worked very hard and tracked back to help fellow Arsenal teammate Cedric in his defensive duties. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 7/10 - Aubameyang really needed his goal which eased off the pressure on him and his Arsenal teammates to make the score 2-0.

Aubameyang struck an isolated figure up front, with the Captain finding it hard to take advantage of some of the chances created for him. Gunners fans will hope this goal can give their talisman the confidence he needs to begin firing and scoring goals again.

Emille Smith Rowe – 8.5/10 - Since Smith-Rowe has featured within Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side, he has been nothing short of exceptional. This game was no exception as well, with the 20-year-old coming on and making an impact straight away.

A beautiful half volley that he struck into the bottom corner, saw him make the difference and put his team 1-0 up.

Bukayo Saka – 7/10 - Saka came onto the pitch and really worked hard. Driving runs and quick feet put the Hale End graduate in threatening positions and once again causing the Newcastle Defence problems. 

Granit Xhaka – 7/10 - Although Xhaka can be the source to a lot of controversial moments, in recent games, He has been nothing short of superb. Xhaka came on and controlled the game instantly.

He turned Arsenal’s focus into attack and his passing ensured Arsenal stayed on the front foot in the last minutes of the game where they got their goals.

The former captain was also heavily involved with Arsenal’s second goal with a beautiful defence splitting pass to find Kieran Tierney. 

Alex Lacazette 7/10 - Lacazette came on and instantly became a focal point up front where he held the ball up and brought his teammates into play.

He also provided a headed assist for Smith Rowe's goal and brought the ball forwards with confidence throughout his time on the pitch. Lacazette looks to be back to his best and, Arsenal fans can be very excited to see how many goals the inform striker can continue to score.

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