Arsenal’s meeting with Newcastle United this evening saw a pair of the club’s summer additions stand up when it counted, to lead Mikel Arteta’s outfit to a long-overdue 3 points.
Arsenal vs Newcastle
The Gunners returned to Premier League action following the international break a short time ago, with a clash versus Steve Bruce’s Magpies at the Emirates.
Arsenal entered the matchup on the back of an impressive 7-match win streak across all competitions.
The issue for the north Londoners of late, however, had been their inability to turn performances into 3 points.
Arsenal had actually drawn all of their last 4 Premier League fixtures before today, the latest of which saw Mikel Arteta’s men lucky to escape Turf Moor with a point.
This run of form had seen the capital giants fail to make up any ground on the top-4 chasing pack, with Arsenal having sat in a disappointing 10th in the English top-flight before kick-off this evening.
Arsenal return to winning ways
When all was said and done at the Emirates, though, the Gunners finally turned a fine display into a much-needed win.
The opening 45 minutes saw Newcastle stand tall in the face of their favoured hosts, to restrict Arsenal to just a handful of half chances.
It was the early exchanges of the second-half, though, which eventually proved decisive in the former securing all 3 points.
Whatever was said by Mikel Arteta during the interval evidently resonated with Arsenal’s stars, with the capital giants having emerged for the second 45 brimming with energy and attacking intent.
After Eddie Nketiah had clipped the top of the crossbar from close range, the scoring was opened with 54 minutes on the clock, courtesy of a familiar source.
A lofted ball to the back post from Nicolas Pepe was met superbly by the arriving Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng, who picked out the far corner of Martin Dubravka’s net with a pinpoint header.
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And, just 3 minutes later, Arsenal were back on the scoresheet once again.
A sensational piece of work down the left flank from Bukayo Saka saw the Gunners youngster dance his way past 2 defenders, before picking out the arriving Nicolas Pepe.
And the hosts’ record-signing made no mistake with his finish, coolly slotting home from 8 yards to all-but make sure of Arsenal’s first Premier League victory in 5.
The matchup’s closing exchanges, meanwhile, saw the north Londoners add some deserved gloss to the scoreline.
Mesut Ozil capped a fine individual performance with his side’s 3rd in the 90th-minute, starting and finishing a flowing move forward to eventually get on the end of Alexandre Lacazette’s reverse pass across the box.
And substitute Lacazette then turned goalscorer himself, finding the top corner from a 2nd Nicolas Pepe assist to round out the day’s scoring.
As such, having played a role in 3 of his side’s 4 goals this evening, Nicolas Pepe is no doubt set to grab the majority of the headlines following Arsenal’s win over Newcastle.
And, to the Ivorian’s credit, he does deserve praise.
Following a difficult first-half, Pepe emerged following the break looking reinvigorated, adding some much-needed cutting edge to Mikel Arteta’s attack.
Bukayo Saka, meanwhile, was handed the Man of the Match award by Sky Sports, after proving once again why he is viewed as one of the Premier League’s finest young talents with a relentless performance up and down the left flank.
No player, though, more perfectly embodied Arsenal’s improvement this evening than Dani Ceballos.
Spanish midfielder Ceballos made his return to the capital giants’ starting XI today, following a lengthy injury layoff.
The on-loan Real Madrid man was tasked with sitting in alongside Granit Xhaka at the base of Mikel Arteta’s midfield, to provide a link between defence and attack.
And this was a job that Ceballos went on to do in masterful fashion.
After a solid first-half showing, during which he kept things ticking over in tidy fashion, the 23-year-old kicked into another gear altogether after the interval.
Ceballos, with his combination of poise, pinpoint passing, and, crucially, drive from deep, proved the catalyst behind Arsenal exploding into life, to run Newcastle ragged.
The Spanish international has now unquestionably laid claim to a starting berth in Arsenal’s midfield moving forward, with it just remaining to be seen whether he can provide such a telling contribution week-in, week-out.