Newcastle United 1 Arsenal 2
- Lee Probert
2-1 was the scoreline once again as Newcastle United slipped to a fourth defeat in five Premier League games, with quick-fire second-half goals from Granit Xhaka and Mesut Özil securing victory for Arsenal.
The Magpies more than matched the Gunners for much of the opening 45 minutes – of which they perhaps had the better – but they paid the price for a disappointing second-half display at St. James’ Park.
Xhaka opened the scoring with a sweetly-struck free kick not long after the interval, and Özil swiftly added a second to leave Rafa Benítez’s side with a mountain to climb.
That was all it proved to be, though, with Unai Emery’s troops having already inflicted the necessary damage.
United got off to a purposeful start in front of a near-capacity crowd at St. James’ Park – forcing corner after corner early on – though it took the best part of 20 minutes for them to bring a save out of Petr Čech. With the Gunners struggling to clear, DeAndre Yedlin managed to keep a promising move alive by swinging in a cross from the right, and Jacob Murphy’s header across goal was palmed away by the visitors’ ‘keeper. Isaac Hayden looked to pick up the pieces on the edge of the penalty area, only to take a little too long to get his shot away.
Arsenal’s brightest spell of the first half came just before the half-hour mark, not that they posed Martin Dúbravka too much of a threat. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was nearly in on goal after latching onto an Özil through pass, but the backtracking Fernández produced a superb sliding challenge. A minute later, Alexandre Lacazette got a shot away after a corner was only half-cleared, but the Frenchman fired straight into the side-netting.
That was as good as it got for Emery’s side before the break, with the Magpies looking reasonably comfortable at the back as well as a threat on the counter – particularly through the pace of Murphy.
But, less than five minutes into the second half, they were undone by one swing of Xhaka’s left foot. The Swiss international let fly from 20 yards after Fernández’s foul on Aubameyang, and Dúbravka could do little to stop the ball from hitting the top corner of the net.
United looked flattened by that, and – struggling to respond – they quickly shipped a second. Fernández slid in to deny Lacazette after the forward picked up a cross from the left, but the ball ran kindly for Özil, whose low-struck effort got the better of Dúbravka, despite the Magpies’ ‘keeper getting a hand to it.
Arsenal very nearly added a third after an hour, only for Aubameyang to drill narrowly wide of the far post after being played in by Lacazette. Ten minutes later, Özil teed up substitute Lucas Torreira on the edge of the penalty area, but despite having time to pick his spot, the Uruguayan fired harmlessly over the crossbar.
Another Arsenal replacement, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, then had a sight of goal after gathering Aaron Ramsey’s cross from the right, the Gunners having countered quickly following a Magpies corner. The Armenian had time and space as he received the ball, but hesitated inside the penalty area and gave Paul Dummett the chance to get back and block.
Fernández then got in the way of another Lacazette effort, before Danny Welbeck shot just past the near post shortly after coming on for Ramsey.
United had struggled to launch any sort of comeback after falling behind, but still managed to set up something a nervy finale for Arsenal after halving the deficit through Clark, who stooped to head Fernández’s pinpoint cross beyond Čech.
Unfortunately, the Magpies were unable to launch one final attack, with another reverse meaning they have matched the club’s worst ever start to a Premier League season.