| 11.5°C Dublin

Aubameyang offers reminder of value with his double strike

Arsenal 3 Newcastle United 0

Close

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates acrobatically after scoring Arsenal’s opening goal against Newcastle. Photo: Getty Images

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates acrobatically after scoring Arsenal’s opening goal against Newcastle. Photo: Getty Images

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates acrobatically after scoring Arsenal’s opening goal against Newcastle. Photo: Getty Images

Just as Arsenal might have started to fret that they had handed out another huge contract to a star player, once deemed indispensable, who then failed to perform, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave them a reminder of what he is worth.

On the day Mesut Ozil finally left for Fenerbahce, the Arsenal captain claimed two goals - and should have had a hat-trick - as Newcastle were dismissed. It only lifted Arsenal into the top half of the table but with Aubameyang back to form, Thomas Partey back and the young tyros Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka again impressing, they will expect to go higher.

Not that they will play a team as disillusioned as Newcastle every week.

Close

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka and Newcastle's Matty Longstaff battle for the ball. Photo: PA

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka and Newcastle's Matty Longstaff battle for the ball. Photo: PA

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka and Newcastle's Matty Longstaff battle for the ball. Photo: PA

 

Manager Steve Bruce had said he will do it his way, that the "gloves are off" - only for his team to slump to a ninth game without a win.

They are in danger of facing a relegation battle while Arsenal are now just six points of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and manager Mikel Arteta can see a way forward with this line-up especially with Partey, who has featured so little this campaign through injury, providing such a positive approach in midfield.

Bumper

It was only Aubameyang's fourth and fifth goals since finally signing that bumper new three-year contract in September, a poor return, and his improved performance will have been a relief. Maybe his mojo is back.

Bruce showed the courage of his convictions - even if it begged the question as to what exactly has he been doing up until now - with eight changes, a 4-4-2 system and an intent to attack; to come and play having been dumped out of both cups - losing against Arsenal in the FA Cup - as part of a miserable run of form.

It also meant there was more opportunity for Arsenal to attack and they should have gone ahead when Saka's low shot, from Smith Rowe's astute pass, was deflected by goalkeeper Karl Darlow, with an outstretched leg, to Aubameyang.

For the Arsenal captain it was a straightforward opportunity, but he somehow side-footed the ball across goal and it rebounded back out off the far post. It was a bad miss.

For Newcastle, Miguel Almiron was prominent and after recovering from a hefty challenge by Rob Holding, he later skipped past Partey - back in the starting line-up - exchanged passes with first Callum Wilson and then Andy Carroll before shooting just over.

It remained open.

After Arsenal - led by an apoplectic Arteta - demanded a penalty for handball, which was rightly waved away, Smith Rowe worked his way into the area and cut the ball back to Aubameyang, whose first-time shot cleared the crossbar.

Close

Arsenal's Bukayo Saka in action with Newcastle's Jamal Lewis. Photo: Reuters

Arsenal's Bukayo Saka in action with Newcastle's Jamal Lewis. Photo: Reuters

Arsenal's Bukayo Saka in action with Newcastle's Jamal Lewis. Photo: Reuters

 

The impetus was coming from Arsenal, with Partey the dominant midfield player. But the visitors carried a threat with Carroll and Wilson and the pattern of the game would have unfolded as both managers expected.

Aubameyang was allowed to stride forward, with Emil Krafth backing off, before again getting his angle wrong and side-footing wide.

Newcastle finally fashioned a chance for Carroll when Almiron's cross picked him out beyond the far post, but his volley was wildly ambitious.

On the stroke of half-time, Aubameyang's cross deflected off Krafth and almost caught out Darlow, before David Luiz wasted a free header from the resulting corner.

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

This field is required

It felt like a contest between two teams short of confidence and lacking belief on the ball and, for Arsenal, the bravery to try to truly seize the initiative.

Early in the second half Darlow made a fine, one-handed save to his right after Alexandre Lacazette did well to take the ball down and shoot through a crowded area before finally there was a breakthrough.

Inevitably Partey was involved as he smartly picked out Aubameyang, who had the time and space to run at Krafth, with the defender again backing off, allowing the forward to strike a powerful left-footed shot between Darlow and his near post. It was vintage Aubameyang.

Clever

Newcastle summoned a response with a powerful, if wayward, drive by Carroll, but it was Arsenal who threatened with a clever exchange of passes to give Saka a sight of goal, only for Krafth to block. The midfielder would not be denied, though, and side-footed home after Smith Rowe pulled the ball back.

Close

Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny (left), David Luiz (centre) and Granit Xhaka celebrate after the match. Photo: PA

Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny (left), David Luiz (centre) and Granit Xhaka celebrate after the match. Photo: PA

Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny (left), David Luiz (centre) and Granit Xhaka celebrate after the match. Photo: PA

 

Darlow again saved well, denying Lacazette as he turned away his close-range header and the fear for Newcastle was they were being overrun. They certainly looked dispirited.

Newcastle conceded again. Cedric Soares collected Saka's pass by the byline and picked out Aubameyang, who swept it into the net. Replays showed the ball appeared to be out but, after a Var check, the goal was allowed.

It did not affect the result, Newcastle were gone already, but it summed up their night.

© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2021

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]


Privacy