It was a dominant first-half display from Arsenal at St. James’ Park. Newcastle came out flat and passive as the visitors took immediate control from the opening whistle.
Newcastle were set up once again in a 5-3-2 with the only change from last weekend being Callum Wilson in for Joelinton. The lads started the match sitting back with both wing-backs playing very deep and inviting pressure from the visitors.
Arsenal punished Newcastle in the 5th minute with a goal from Mohamed Elneny. Hector Bellerin was cleared down the right and whipped in a cross from the byline. Newcastle couldn’t clear the ball as it landed to Elneny just outside the area. The Egyptian’s shot got past Dubravka to give the early lead to the Gunners.
Fifteen minutes in and Newcastle still failed to react to going down. Arsenal were pulling the strings with Newcastle managing only a couple of jaunts into the opposition’s end.
Our first effort on target came in the 18th minute through Allan Saint-Maximin. The Frenchman drifted inside and took a shot which was deflected and forced Mathew Ryan into a diving save.
Martin Dubravka was called into action in the 28th minute to make his first big save of the match. The Gunners recycled possession in the Newcastle end with the ball ending up to Granit Xhaka. The stand-in left-back blasted a shot from just outside the area that Dubravka was able to make a diving save on. On the subsequent corner, Almiron cleared an Elneny header off the line.
Newcastle are fortunate to be down by just one goal as the Gunners have dominated all aspects of this match. We’ve been outshot 12 to 2 with Arsenal having the bulk of possession. The lads will have to improve significantly to get anything out of this one.