Arsenal achieved their biggest win of the season against Newcastle United on Sunday, after a blistering second-half performance at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal were fairly comfortable in the opening 45 minutes against Newcastle, bar one or two moments, but they just couldn’t create any big chances. Despite taking nine shots to Newcastle’s four, none of them really looked like going in.
The team also struggled to build momentum, largely as the referee was so quick to blow his whistle. Mikel Arteta’s team gave away nine fouls in the first half.
Whatever Arteta said in his team talk at the break really had an impact though. Even though his side only took six shots in the second period, almost every one of them felt like it could result in a goal.
Nketiah hit the bar from close range, Aubameyang and Pepe found the net in quick succession, then Özil and Lacazette did the same late on. Saint-Maximin almost pulled one back with 15 minutes left, but other than that, Arsenal earned their clean sheet as well.
Let’s have a look at our Arsenal player ratings for the match against Newcastle.
- Bernd Leno 7 – Bar one poor chipped pass straight to a Newcastle attacker, Leno had a good game. He made a couple of saves, completed 79% of his passes and even played a small part in one of Arsenal’s goals.
- Hector Bellerin 5 – Struggled quite a bit in the first half. He didn’t look comfortable defending against Saint-Maximin, and he also had some trouble in possession. Things improved as the game went on, but it was a sign he isn’t quite back to his best yet. That should come as he plays more regularly.
- Shkodran Mustafi 8 – Another really strong performance from the reemerging defender. He won seven aerials, cleared the rebound from Saint-Maximin’s woodwork shot, and he was strong on the ball. Even came close to scoring.
- David Luiz 7 – Less to do defensively than his centre-back partner, but led the backline with his distribution with 96% pass accuracy. A solid display, if not too eye-catching.
- Bukayo Saka 8.5 – An excellent performance from the youngster. The highlight was his nutmeg and assist for Pepe, but he was threatening all game. He curled narrowly wide with a long-range shot on his weak foot, he completed a game-high six dribbles and 91% of his passes, and had no trouble defensively.
- Dani Ceballos 8 – Arteta said Ceballos was the best player on the pitch at times, and that’s probably true. He was one of few to earn praise in the first half, he created chances and played some really clever passes. The Spaniard spent more time in possession than anyone else before his substitution. He didn’t do so well in the individual duels, but that’s the only criticism.
- Granit Xhaka 7 – Overall, another strong display to show the progress he’s making under Arteta. Unfortunately, he picked up a silly yellow card early on and there were one or two occasions later where that cost him.
- Mesut Özil 8.5 – His goal probably shouldn’t have gone in, but the German deserved it on his performance. He created a game-high four chances (level with Pepe) and ran Arsenal’s attack as he does at his best. Along with Ceballos, one of few to play well in both halves of the match.
- Nicolas Pepe 9 – Played a starring role in the win. Forced a good save with his free-kick in the second half, created three huge chances in the second. Two led to goals, the third led to Nketiah hitting the bar. He also scored clinically from Saka’s cutback.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 8 – Made some nice runs, scored a great header, even tracked back to make a couple of important tackles. Always looked the most likely to break the deadlock, even from a wider position than he probably wants to play.
- Eddie Nketiah 6 – Hit the bar with his big chance, but in his defence, he was running away from goal on the turn when he took it. Had another decent effort in the first half.
- Lucas Torreira 7 – Didn’t misplace any of his passes, though he did get dribbled past once in his brief appearance.
- Alexandre Lacazette 8 – At last, Lacazette got back on the scoresheet and added an assist as well, despite only playing around 10 minutes. There was some luck with the finish, but arguably that’s the luck he’s been missing lately. Hopefully, he can kick on now.
- Joe Willock 7 – Even though he only played a few minutes, Willock had a quick impact. He created one chance, then played a lovely pass to Pepe to set up the fourth goal. Like Lacazette, he made use of his cameo opportunity.