The Warmdown: Arsenal back to winning ways against Newcastle
Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal celebrates after scoring their team's second goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on November 27, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta's Arsenal side secured their fifth placed position in the Premier League for another week, beating Newcastle United 2-0. Two second-half goals from Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli were the difference as the Gunners fought through a mostly-resilient Magpies defensive unit. 

The fixture at the Emirates Stadium was the first time the visitors were joined by their new manager Eddie Howe. Despite a clear change in system since the sacking of Steve Bruce, the northeast side didn't quite have enough in the tank to resist the attacking onslaught from the hosts. 

  • Business as usual

Arteta chose to make only one change from their defeat to Liverpool last week, with Martin Odegaard slotting into the number 10 role in place of Alexandre Lacazette.

The Arsenal manager also opted to keep young left-back Nuno Tavares in the starting eleven, despite his shaky-looking performance at Anfield.

The Gunners managed to keep their sixth clean sheet of the season, with their defensive triad of Aaron Ramsdale, Benjamin White and Gabriel looking to have struck up a great understanding of one another. 

Notably, the Magpies side featured a returning Joe Willock, who made his first appearance against Arsenal since making the move up to tyneside in the summer.

The first half offered little in terms of entertainment for the Arsenal faithful, as Howe's Newcastle sat deep, looking to absorb the pressure that the Gunners sought to apply. 

The goalkeepers stole most of the plaudits in the first period, with a number of solid stops from both Ramsdale and Martin Dubravka, who returned to the Magpies for the first time this Premier League season. 

The biggest chance of the first half came to Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who had the ball palmed into his path not five yards away from goal following an Emile Smith-Rowe header, but the Gabonese forward could only direct the ball onto the outside of the post. For a striker of his pedigree, he definitely should have been wheeling away in celebration following the chance. 

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
  • Second-half dominance

The second half saw Arsenal speed up their attacking play considerably, as it looked much easier to penetrate the low-block that Newcastle chose to employ. 

The first of the two goals came from a fantastic piece of build-up play from the hosts, with sixteen passes leading up to the finish. Tavares neatly slotted the ball through the Newcastle defensive line with a reverse pass into the path of Saka, who rifled the ball into the bottom right corner with his first touch. 

From the point Saka's goal hit the back of the net, the game never looked beyond any doubt for the home side. When scoring first in the Premier League this season, Arsenal have gone on to win seven of the eight games in which they have done so, drawing the other. 

Every silver lining must have a cloud along with it though, right? Just beyond the hour mark, the England international went down with a minor muscle injury, forcing him off in a game that he was dominating.

He was to be replaced by Martinelli, who looked to make an instant impact having not had much opportunity to shine in the Premier League in recent months - and an instant impact he made.

Only 90 seconds after coming off of the bench, the Brazilian youngster found himself on the end of an exquisite Takehiro Tomiyasu lofted through ball, face to face with Dubravka in the visitor's goal. 

But Martinelli did not panic as many would in this situation, caressing the ball over the Slovakian 'keeper into the far corner, a simply fantastic finish to put the game beyond all reasonable doubt. 

(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
  • Standout performances

Once again, there were strong performances all over the pitch for the Gunners, none more so than Saka. It is so easy to forget that this lad is only 20 years of age, as he skips around seasoned professionals week-in, week-out. 

Capping his performance off with a goal before his injury, he looked by far the most creative for the north London side. 

Another display that may have gone under the radar is that of right-back Tomiyasu. The Japanese international has fit into this Arsenal side about as well as you could have asked him to at the start of the season.

Putting in solid, energetic showings since his arrival, it is clear to see why the Gunners were so keen to sign him. For £19 million, he is looking like a particularly shrewd acquisition by Arteta and the backroom staff.

Finally, there was another solid performance from Aaron Ramsdale, who made a number of important stops throughout the game to keep Newcastle at bay. If the England 'keeper continues in this rich vein of form, he will be putting himself well in the running for this season's golden glove award.

Seemingly silencing the doubters with every week that passes, the Arsenal supporters will only be hoping that he can continue this wonderful upward trajectory. 

  • Looking forward

The Arsenal now face two difficult away fixtures in the northwest of the country, with a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on Thursday evening, followed by what is always a difficult fixture away at Rafa Benitez's Everton on the following Monday. 

Should Arteta's side come out with two positive results from these games, things will be looking very good in comparison to Arsenal's recent history. It is now imperative for the Gunners not to their focus, as their Champions League ambitions for next year look even more realistic with each win that comes their way. 

 

 

 

 

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