Newcastle United 1 Arsenal 2
Clarke 90+1, Xhaka 49, Özil 58

Arsenal secured back to back Premier League away wins for the first time since May 2017 with a well earned victory against Newcastle United at St James’ Park. Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil scored in a lethal ten minute second half spell to ensure that the Gunners had their third Premier League win in a row. After their two opening game losses against Manchester City and the narrow 3-2 loss against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in August, the Gunners seem to have settled under Unai Emery, his system and his liking for playing from the back. Ok, so the last bit may still give Arsenal fans the jitters and rightly so, especially when given that Petr Cech is tasked with playing the ball out to his defenders rather that boot it out. Newcastle were fully aware of their opponents uncomfortable defensive stance playing out from the back, and the sight of Cech clearing away for a corner under pressure from an under hit back pass and later Shkodran Mustafi slipping high up means that Emery still has a job of work to do. However the winning mentality will help drive his message home. Moments away from their first clean sheet under Emery, Kieran Clark struck in time added on, but it was Arsenal who would take the three points. Whisper it quietly, and the penny seems to have dropped for Ozil. The German rarely speaks to the media, and rarer still is a post match interview in English. Almost back to his high level and a goal to boot, he may be realising that more input from him is continually required.

“I’ve said in the past I’m very happy to play for Arsenal the new coach -what he wants, the team has accepted it & all the team supports him. We have a good relationship with him, we are one team. We want to reach our goals so we take the three points today,” said Ozil who was making his 200th Arsenal appearance.

Emery’s decision to take off 19 year old Matteo Guendouzi at the break for the tenacious Lucas Torreira was a good call. The French teenager has been an inspiration at times, but the steel of Torreira is a much needed quantity. Alongside Xhaka, the Uruguayan got down to work quickly with his forward passing, covering the ground to thwart danger and adding that bite.

Federico Fernandez gave away the free kick which Xhaka clipped into Martin Dubravka’s net to open the scoring. Well into their game, Arsenal looked the better side and no surprises when they doubled their lead. Xhaka’s cross came off Alexandre Lacazette, and mopping up from around the edge of the area, Ozil’s precision strike beat Dubravka. Newcastle seemed sapped of energy, but their late attacking instincts were rewarded when Clark headed in to halve the winning margin.

Emery was keen to praise Torrira who also made a telling contribution to the 3-2 win at Cardiff prior to the international break.

“I want to give every player confidence. I am very happy with Matteo and also very happy with Lucas. But maybe in the second half we needed a little more balance on the pitch with the positioning. Lucas gives us this balance,” noted the Gunners’ head coach.

“In the first half we didn’t control the match like we wanted to. Also, we needed that control to input our ideas. We conceded a lot of chances for transitions and counter-attacks, but not giving away major chances. They had a lot of corners and a lot of possibilities to arrive in our box. In the second half, the balance on the pitch was better – our positioning and when we were attacking we didn’t make the transition easy for us. I think the key is the first goal. This goal gave us the confidence to continue to improve in the match. We finished the match with the result,” he continued and went on to praise Ozil too.

“Today I’m happy because I want every player to have chances to score. Today Mesut scored and I think that’s important. He continued his process on the team, helping with his quality and working every day to continue with the performances we want the team and him to have.

Arsenal are next up in the Europa League when Ukranian side FC Vorskla arrive at the Emirates on Thursday. Three days later and the Gunners will be back in Premier League action when Everton arrive in N5.