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Newcastle United 1-2 Arsenal: Granit Xhaka's free-kick sets Gunners on way to win

By Harry PooleBBC Sport
Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil's strike helped Arsenal record consecutive away league wins for the first time since May 2017

Arsenal manager Unai Emery urged Mesut Ozil to contribute more goals after the German's strike secured a third consecutive victory for his side and left Newcastle without a win.

Despite being frustrated in the first half, Granit Xhaka opened the scoring for the Gunners with an excellent long-range free-kick after the break, before Ozil followed up Alexandre Lacazette's blocked effort to double the advantage.

Ciaran Clark responded in stoppage time for the hosts, however Newcastle remain 18th in the table with one win in their past 10 league games.

Ozil - making his 200th appearance for the club - ensured Arsenal won consecutive away league games for the first time since May 2017.

"His quality helps the team. It is important he scored. I want not only for him to assist, we need him to go in the box and score like today," said Emery - who had challenged the midfielder to "do more" before the game.

"I see the players are the same, each has quality. I will work with every player and continue our process to create the team as we want."

Meanwhile, Rafael Benitez's side remain on one point, equalling their worst return after five Premier League games - although they had much the better of the first-half chances as they pressed an Arsenal defence determined to build from the back.

The early pressure forced errors, as keeper Petr Cech passed the ball out for a corner and defender Shkodran Mustafi's stumble was indicative of an Arsenal back-line still trying to get comfortable with a new style of play under Emery.

However, Arsenal returned the stronger side after the interval and scored twice in 10 second half minutes to secure the points - despite a late Newcastle rally.

Arsenal build momentum under Emery

Arsenal need to control games better - Emery

Following a tough start to Emery's reign, with opening league fixtures against champions Manchester City and Chelsea, victory at St James' Park is the Gunners third consecutive win and they now appear to be gaining some momentum under Arsene Wenger's successor.

Arsenal, who managed to see off a resurgent Cardiff prior to the international break, knew they would face a stern test against a Newcastle side that had adopted a defensive approach against Chelsea and Manchester City already this season - and were unable to settle into the match as the hosts pressed from the start.

Newcastle's first-half approach demonstrated exactly how to disrupt Arsenal's play under Emery, and both Cech and Mustafi in particular appeared hesitant on the ball under repeated pressure.

But the Gunners were able to take control of the game as the hosts' early energy faded - although it took Xhaka's sublime strike on 49 minutes to really give the visitors confidence.

Arsenal looked increasingly comfortable following Ozil's cool finish and were able to see the game out despite Clark's late reply as Emery's side continued to amend a poor recent away league record that had seen them lose eight of their last 10 prior to kick-off.

And it did appear, once they got into their stride, that Arsenal's players are adapting to Emery's philosophy - although on evidence there remains plenty of work to do.

"We are improving. We need to continue working individually and collectively to improve more things. In the first half we didn't control like we wanted but the second half we were better and the victory is just," said Spaniard Emery.

"We need to improve and score more individually. We need to work, every player - not only the attacking players but the midfielders and centre-backs from set-pieces."

Positives to take for winless Newcastle

Newcastle 1-2 Arsenal: We need to keep the belief - Rafa Benitez

Benitez's side have been dealt a difficult opening league fixture list this season, having already faced Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City and now the Gunners - with only a point against Cardiff to show for their efforts.

In search of a first victory, the manager made four changes to the side that suffered defeat by City prior to the international break, as Jacob Murphy, Matt Ritchie, Isaac Hayden and Joselu were introduced.

Both Murphy and Joselu proved worthy additions as, along with Perez, the home side went about forcing Arsenal into errors in front of a home crowd encouraged by Newcastle's desire to get forward.

In previous games against Chelsea and Manchester City, the Magpies had as little as 19 and 21% possession but - despite falling to a fourth 2-1 defeat by a 'big six' side - there was a definite change in approach as the home side sensed mistakes in the opposition defence.

However Benitez's side tired from their early exertions and were unable to have the same impact on the match in the second half as Xhaka's moment of quality forced them to chase a result - leaving more space for the Gunners to play.

The winless start must, obviously, be seen in the context of who the Magpies have faced but, as the schedule begins to look more favourable, Benitez will know results must come quickly for his side, who remain in the relegation places.

"We did really well in the first half. The feeling was we could get something, then we conceded an early goal - two moments of quality and it is difficult for us. The first half we were creating and pushing but you have to take your chances," said Benitez.

"That's what happens when you have quality like they do, it is difficult for anyone. To react against a good team, you have to attack and push higher and you are more exposed.

"It is a pity, still we are scoring and having chances. We knew it could be like that, it is tough. Where we are, we have to keep the belief the same way we did last season."

Man of the match - Alexandre Lacazette

Alexandre Lacazette
Although he did not score, Alexandre Lacazette was a threat throughout for the Gunners and showed a growing understanding alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the two linked up well in the Arsenal attack

Xhaka's threat from range - the stats

  • All four of Granit Xhaka's Premier League goals for Arsenal have been from outside the box.
  • Xhaka's opener was in fact Arsenal's first goal from a direct free-kick since Alexis Sanchez's strike against Middlesbrough in April 2017.
  • And all 10 of Arsenal's Premier League goals this season have been scored by different players - including one own goal.
  • The Gunners have opened the scoring in each of their last 11 Premier League games against Newcastle.
  • But Arsenal have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their first five games to a top-flight season since the 1988-89 campaign.
  • One point from five games represents Newcastle's joint-worst start to a Premier League campaign, matching their start in 1999.
  • In four Premier League games against Newcastle, Arsenal's Mesut Ozil has had a hand in four goals - scoring three.

What's next?

Newcastle travel to Crystal Palace next Saturday (15:00 BST), while Arsenal's Europa League campaign begins at the Emirates on Thursday night against Ukrainian side Vorskla (20:00 BST).

The Gunners then host Everton on Sunday (16:00 BST).



Formation 4-4-1-1

  • 12Dubravka
  • 22Yedlin
  • 6LascellesSubstituted forClarkat 45'minutes
  • 18Fernandez
  • 3Dummett
  • 11RitchieSubstituted forMutoat 79'minutes
  • 14Hayden
  • 10Diamé
  • 7MurphySubstituted forKenedyat 69'minutes
  • 17Pérez
  • 21Joselu


  • 2Clark
  • 8Shelvey
  • 9Rondón
  • 13Muto
  • 15Kenedy
  • 19Manquillo
  • 26Darlow


Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Cech
  • 2Bellerín
  • 20Mustafi
  • 5Papastathopoulos
  • 18Monreal
  • 29GuendouziSubstituted forTorreiraat 45'minutes
  • 34Xhaka
  • 10Özil
  • 8RamseySubstituted forWelbeckat 80'minutes
  • 14AubameyangSubstituted forMkhitaryanat 69'minutes
  • 9Lacazette


  • 4Elneny
  • 7Mkhitaryan
  • 11Torreira
  • 12Lichtsteiner
  • 16Holding
  • 19Leno
  • 23Welbeck
Lee Probert

Match Stats

Home TeamNewcastleAway TeamArsenal
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Newcastle United 1, Arsenal 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Newcastle United 1, Arsenal 2.

  3. Post update

    Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Kenedy (Newcastle United).

  5. Post update

    Foul by Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).

  6. Post update

    DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Goal!

    Goal! Newcastle United 1, Arsenal 2. Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United) header from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Federico Fernández with a cross.

  8. Post update

    Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Héctor Bellerín.

  9. Post update

    Attempt missed. Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Alexandre Lacazette with a through ball following a fast break.

  10. Post update

    Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Petr Cech.

  11. Post update

    Attempt saved. Joselu (Newcastle United) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Ayoze Pérez with a cross.

  12. Post update

    Offside, Newcastle United. Isaac Hayden tries a through ball, but Joselu is caught offside.

  13. Post update

    Offside, Arsenal. Shkodran Mustafi tries a through ball, but Alexandre Lacazette is caught offside.

  14. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Danny Welbeck.

  15. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Isaac Hayden.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Ciaran Clark.

  17. Post update

    Delay over. They are ready to continue.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Arsenal. Danny Welbeck replaces Aaron Ramsey because of an injury.

  19. Post update

    Delay in match Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) because of an injury.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Newcastle United. Yoshinori Muto replaces Matt Ritchie.


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