Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice as Arsenal coasted to victory against Newcastle on Monday evening, condemning Steve Bruce’s side to a ninth game without a win.
After a poor start to the season, Mikel Arteta’s side are now up to 10th place in the league and will be targeting a Europa League spot. Newcastle, meanwhile, look utterly bereft, as does Bruce.
Aubameyang struck the post in the first half and Alexandre Lacazette forced a good save from Newcastle keeper Karl Darlow just after the interval.
But the Gabonese striker finally fired the Gunners ahead in the 50th minute, finishing off a counter-attack, running at the Newcastle defence and then blasting home a left-foot drive at the near post.
Ten minutes later Bukayo Saka made it 2-0 with a composed finish after good work down the left flank from Emile Smith Rowe, who jinked his way around the back of the Newcastle defence before delivering a pinpoint pass. Smith Row injects legs and energy into the Arsenal line-up, and it’s his regular selection that has been critical in turning things around for Arteta and co.
Aubameyang completed the comfortable victory after Cedric Soares got to the byline and pulled the ball back into his path – VAR checked if the ball had crossed the line before Cedric’s pass but allowed the goal to stand.
Arsenal have now kept a clean sheet in five straight games in all competitions.
“I’m really happy overall. Really positive performance, collective and individually we looked really solid and convincing from the first whistle,” Arteta in his post-match interview.
“It took us a little bit longer than I expected to score the first goal but I really like the chemistry, cohesion and rhythm the team played with.”
Aubameyang had only scored three goals prior to Monday’s game and his manager was delighted to see him score his first brace since last season’s FA Cup Final.
“He needed that for his confidence and the team needs that to be successful. We need him at his best. We were missing his goals, we all know that so to have them back is great for the team,” Arsenal’s head coach added.
📉 In the past week, Steve Bruce has been cut from 12/1 to 6/4 favourite to be the next Premier League manager sacked.
⏳ Time up for the Newcastle United boss? #NUFC
— oddschecker (@oddschecker) January 19, 2021
Steve Bruce had made eight changes to his team after the defeat to bottom club Sheffield United and was disappointed his Newcastle team could not improve on a decent first half.
“We gave as good as we got and got into ourselves some decent opportunities but that little bit of confidence has ebbed away for sure. We were caught in the second half where we didn’t see it coming from the first-half performance,” he said.
Asked about his future, the beleaguered Bruce said: “I am trying to do the best I possibly can as always but you will have to ask others about that.” Surely Bruce’s number is up. Newcastle look lost.