Three things we learned: Arsenal - Newcastle
Arsenal - Newcastle: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a pair of second-half goals, bookending a single tally from Bukayo Saka, as the Gunners romped to a 3-0 victory over the Magpies at the Emirates Stadium on Monday.
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After going seven Premier League games without a win (and drawing only two) from early November to mid-December, Arsenal are suddenly five games unbeaten after winning four of the five. Monday’s result sends them 10th in the table, now just two points behind West Ham United, Southampton and Chelsea.
3 things we learned: Arsenal - Newcastle
1. Young Gun(ner)s are alright: It’s a downright shame that Arsenal have committed to paying Aubameyang (31 years old), Willian (32), Alexandre Lacazette (29), and Nicolas Pepe (25, but a massive disappointment) a combined $156 million over the next half-decade. It’s doubly shameful that they are only now ridding themselves of Mesut Ozil’s crippling contract as they enter into the same situation with with as many as four more players. It’s triply shameful because the likes of Saka (19), Emile Smith Rowe (20) and Eddie Nketiah (21) continue to prove themselves as building blocks for the future. The problem, then, becomes Arsenal’s inability to surround them with the necessary quality due to grotesque mismanagement of money elsewhere.
2. Arsenal closing in on European places: Don’t look now, but Arsenal are only five points out of sixth place and a return to the Europa League next season. While the extra fixtures likely won’t do them a ton of favors in their bid to return to the top-four, it could help wonders in terms of recruitment and in providing an additional revenue stream during extremely uncertain financial times around the world.
3. Newcastle slipping into relegation territory: Steve Bruce’s Magpies are seven games without a win (0W-2D-5L) and they now sit 15th in the Premier League table. Beyond the disastrous results, Newcastle have turned in abject performance after abject performance. With anyone other than Mike Ashley — ever the penny-pincher that he is — at the helm, Bruce might be gone by the morning, a move that might just unlock the considerable potential within Newcastle’s squad by simply telling the players, “It’s okay to attack, feel free to keep the ball and try to score.”
golden platinum diamond scoring chance of the game came in the 15th minute, when Aubameyang had a wide open net to gently slot the ball into. Given how this season has gone for the Gabonese international, though, it was hardly surprising when he put the ball off the far post and back into the field of play. It was something of a tight angle and the ball was bouncing when it arrived to him at the back post, but for $340,000 per week, the Arsenal brass will be expecting those chances to be converted.
Newcastle’s only chance of the first half came in the 24th minute, as Miguel Almiron executed a one-man counter-attack after picking the ball up inside his own half. The Paraguayan international carried the ball nearly 50 yards upfield before playing it wide to Andy Carroll, who quickly played it back to Almiron for a speculative shot from outside the penalty area, but the ball sailed over the crossbar and never worried Bernd Leno.
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Arsenal began the second half incredibly brightly, but Karl Darlow was up to the task of deny Alexandre Lacazette despite the Frenchman firing low and hard through a sea of bodies barely 60 seconds after the restart.
Two minutes later, Arsenal were on the board courtesy of a blistering counter-attack after a botched Newcastle corner kick. Thomas Partey found Aubameyang with a simple pass, and Aubameyang raced into the penalty area and converted an infinitely more difficult chance than his earlier miss.
Goal no. 2 came right on the hour mark, and it had the fingerprints of the Arsenal academy all over it. Smith Rowe raced down the left flank before cutting inside and playing the ball to Saka near the penalty spot for a straightforward finish.
Aubameyang added his second, and Arsenal’s third, in the 77th minute after Cedric Soares did incredibly well to keep the ball from rolling over the end line by, quite literally, a millimeter or two. Soares cut it back to Aubameyang in the middle of the penalty area for a confident, powerful finish.