Alexandre Lacazette scored for the first time since December to put the gloss on a much-needed 4-0 win for Arsenal and head coach Mikel Arteta against Newcastle United on Sunday. (More Football News)
Arsenal came into the clash at Emirates Stadium level on points with visitors Newcastle, having won just six times in the Premier League this season - and only once since Arteta's December appointment.
But after a frustrating opening period, the influential Nicolas Pepe laid on a goal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 54th minute, and Pepe himself scored three minutes later to all but settle the contest.
Mesut Ozil added another in the 90th minute, before substitute Lacazette, who last netted against Standard Liege on December 12, got in on the act in stoppage time.
Arteta, who revealed before the match he turned down an approach from Newcastle while still an assistant at Manchester City, could enjoy the closing stages of a precious victory, with Arsenal climbing back up to 10th and within sight of the European places.
Newcastle's set-pieces had caused early problems for Arsenal, and Sean Longstaff's deflected strike forced a scrambling save from Bernd Leno, before Joelinton awkwardly stabbed wide from six yards moments later.
Martin Dubravka was not troubled for over half an hour, but Arsenal pressure built heading into half-time as the Newcastle goalkeeper made stops from Aubameyang, Eddie Nketiah and Pepe.
The hosts were on the front foot again following the restart, and Pepe danced to the byline before cutting a cross back for Nketiah, who volleyed against the crossbar.
The opener soon followed, with Aubameyang towering over Valentino Lazaro to head Pepe's right-wing delivery across Dubravka into the bottom-right corner.
And the second came less than three minutes after the first, as Bukayo Saka nutmegged Lazaro on the left and squared for Pepe to sweep low inside the near post.
8 - Bukayo Saka has assisted eight goals in all competitions this season, two more than any teammate; he also has the most assists of any Premier League teenager this season. Bright. pic.twitter.com/C8ea17WbB2— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 16, 2020
Ciaran Clark skewed wide from a great position in the area when teed up by Allan Saint-Maximin, who himself hit the post with a fine curling effort, but there was no dramatic Newcastle recovery.
Ozil's close-range finish deceived Dubravka for a scruffy third Arsenal goal, before Lacazette's own slightly untidy effort found the top-right corner to spark a joyous celebration.
What does it mean? Arsenal still finding their feet
There was some hope Arteta might have shaped a much-improved Arsenal over the recent mid-season break, but that did not appear to be the case in the first half. The Gunners struggled to break Newcastle down, before their quality came to the fore in a frantic spell. There would appear to be plenty still to do to restore Arsenal to their former glories despite this big win.
This has not been a wholly successful first season in England for Pepe, but there are signs he is rediscovering the form that convinced Arsenal to splash out a club-record fee last year. The winger was Arsenal's best player in a testing first half and then turned the game on its head with an assist and a goal within 12 minutes of the restart.
Lazaro loses out
Newcastle's new wing-back, making his full Premier League debut, enjoyed a promising first half, getting forward to good effect down the right while standing up to Saka going the other way. But he was later twice beaten for the crucial goals, first unable to challenge Aubameyang in the air and then embarrassed by Saka's trickery.
Key Opta facts
- Newcastle have now lost 78 Premier League games as an away side in London, the most defeats of all sides in the competition’s history in the capital.
- Arsenal have kept back-to-back Premier League clean sheets for the first time since April last year, the second of which also came in a victory over Newcastle at Emirates Stadium.
- Aubameyang has scored the opening goal on six different occasions in the Premier League this season, the joint-most in the competition alongside Tammy Abraham, Danny Ings, Marcus Rashford and Jamie Vardy.
- Saka has assisted eight goals in all competitions this season for Arsenal – more than any team-mate in 2019-20. The 18-year-old has more assists than any other Premier League teenager this season.
- There were 35 passes in the build-up to Ozil's goal, with every Arsenal player touching the ball. It was the highest number of passes leading to any goal in the Premier League this season.
Arsenal have a trip to Olympiacos in the Europa League on Thursday before their next league assignment at home to Everton. Newcastle have a clear midweek but are then back in the capital next Saturday to visit Crystal Palace.
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