Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace gave Arsenal a comfortable win at home to Newcastle, who followed up last week’s disappointing defeat to Sheffield United with another poor performance at the Emirates.
The first half was a relatively even affair – with Aubameyang’s spectacular miss providing the main interest, as the visitors made more changes between games than ever before in a Premier League game.
The tide turned in the second half though, as after Alexandre Lacazette’s effort was well denied, Aubameyang scored his first by wrong-footing Darlow, giving him a first league goal since his penalty at Old Trafford.
Bukayo Saka added a second after a flowing move with him and Emile Smith Rowe, before Aubameyang slammed in a third for the hosts, as a victory lifts them into the top half of the table for the first time since this writer started his match reports.
Arsenal have only scored one goal all season before the 15th minute – which was their first of the season, away at Fulham – the only other team to have scored so few goals in that timeframe. And it came as no surprise that such a record wasn’t massively under threat, even if Aubameyang hit the post from an admittedly tight angle when it looked easier to score into an empty net.
Miguel Almiron was the next to go close, ending a fast counter-attack with a left footed effort that cleared the crossbar with relative ease – a let off for the hosts.
Darlow was forced into a flying save just before the end of the half as Aubameyang’s cross was deflected heavily towards the near post, but the Magpies’ keeper was capable of keeping it out, whilst David Luiz put a serviceable chance wide and over from the resultant corner.
Much like in the previous game against Crystal Palace, Arsenal started the second half in quick fashion, with Darlow producing an excellent low save to deny a shot across his goal by Lacazette, who trapped a ball falling from height with a deft touch.
But unlike that previous match, and for the first time since the victory at West Bromwich Albion, Arsenal found a goal within 90 minutes, as Aubameyang raced onto Partey’s pass and put his left-footed effort above Darlow’s diving body – Aubameyang’s fourth of the season and his second against Newcastle in the space of nine days.
It was nearly two moments later when Saka controlled a throw-in from the right and raced towards goal, set up by Lacazette, but Krafth managed to get his leg in the way and Tierney volleyed the rebound well over the bar.
But before long, Saka gave Arsenal a two-goal lead – converting after wonderful work on the wing from Emile Smith-Rowe, and putting a first time finish low beyond Darlow.
Remarkably, it was to get even better for the Gunners as Cedric’s excellent work down the right-hand side let him fizz a cross across the box for Aubameyang to get his second of the night – VAR was needed to check whether the ball went out of play but it deemed the ball had stayed in by the tightest of margins.
Man of the match: Whilst an honourable mention must go to the tireless Miguel Almiron, and another to Karl Darlow, the award has to go to Bukayo Saka, who played like a player double his age.
Arsenal: Leno, Cedric, Luiz, Holding, Tierney, Partey (Elneny 67′), Xhaka, Saka, Smith Rowe (Martinelli 82′), Aubameyang (Willian 79′), Lacazette
Subs: Runarsson, Bellerin, Gabriel, Willock, Pepe, Martinelli, Nketiah
Newcastle: Darlow, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Lewis, Shelvey, Longstaff (Hendrick 79′), Almiron (Anderson 87′), Joelinton, Carroll (Murphy 69′), Wilson
Subs: Dubravka, Ritchie, Hayden, Manquillo, Yedlin, Longstaff