Updated: Feb 29
Having lost all of their last 7 visits to the ground, with their last win coming courtesy of a big Andy Carroll header, Newcastle knew today was always going to be a tall ask.
But after a first half where they had more than held their own, it would take two minutes of madness on the hour mark to lose any chance of taking anything from this one.
Goals from Aubameyang, after a floated cross that should have been cleared, and a Pepe easy side foot finish after Saka had done Lazaro all ends up to drift into the Newcastle box, sealing the points.
There would be no way back for the Magpies, despite the impressive Saint-Maximin smashing the inside of Leno’s upright with 15 minutes left. United then, leave the Emirates empty handed once more.
A win for United would have lifted them above their hosts. Instead the loss means nothing in terms of position in the table although a gap has now starting to open between Burnley, who now sit in 11th, and those form Newcastle down.
The defeat means Newcastle could find themselves just 6 points above the drop zone with 12 games left, should West Ham manage to get anything from a City in turmoil during the week.
After a little sunshine break, Bruce had thrown all of this three new charges into the lions den with Rose, Bentaleb and Lazaro all starting. Ritchie and Hayden amongst those staring on the bench.
And all three contributed to a solid first half for the Magpies who did more than hold their own against at the Gunners.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Lazaro (Hayden, 75), Clark (Schar, 84), Lascelles, Fernandez (Ritchie, 75), Rose, Longstaff, Bentaleb, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton
Arsenal had started the better of the two sides but their was a moment of panic at the back for the Gunners on 6 minutes when Joelinton broke free down the left and thumped a great cross to the opposite corner of the 18 yard box to find an unmarked Lazaro who’s first touch was good before an Arsenal foot managed to stab the ball behind for a corner.
A lovely set piece from Newcastle on 14 minutes almost ended in a goal, Lazaro cutting the ball back from a corner to an unmarked Longstaff who’s deflected effort was well saved by Leno. From the second corner Saint-Maximin jinked his way into the box and Joelinton almost managed to guide the ball home from an impossible angle from the cross. Promising for the visitors in the early stages.
United had cruised through the opening quarter of the match and were more than holding their own, looking sharp on the break and with a defensive shape that saw Arsenal resorting to significantly more long balls than you’d expect under Arteta.
The amount of forward play from the Magpies almost seemed to drain the side in the closing states of the first half, finally seeming to invite the Gunners on to them in the latter stages of the opening period.
The first time Dubravka would be called into action was from a long range free kick from Pepe, tipping over the bar. Then a rare mistake from the resultant corner from the big stopper almost saw the hosts make the breakthrough. His flap leaving the keeper stranded and leaving Joelinton to scramble a Mustafi goal bound shot clear.
0-0 then at the break in a very even contest.
A beautiful ball from Ozil moments in the second half allowed Aubameyang to drift in behind the back line but good pressure from Clark forced the Arsenal forward to pull the trigger early and his shot went well wide of Dubravka’s right hand post.
The Gunners would come closer moments later with some great work down the right ending in Pepe pulling back to youngster Nketiah who’s shot smashed the top of the cross bar with Dubravka only able to stand and watch. Great play from the hosts.
Newcastle well and truly on the back foot and needing something going the other way to break Arsenal’s stride.
Instead, a goal for Arsenal would come in the softest of fashion. A floated ball into the box from Pepe on the Gunners right allowing Aubameyang to rise and head home with absolute ease. Totally unchallenged, totally preventable.
Moments later and it was two. Saka skipping passed Lazaro on the Arsenal left and cutting into the box before squaring for Pepe who had the easiest of jobs to side foot home from 8 yards out.
2 minutes. 2-0 down with 60 minutes on the clock.
A contender for miss of the season 5 minutes later. Newcastle’s centre halved have been so good this season when called upon, but when the ball dropped to Clark just 5 yards from goal, totally unmarked, he could only manage to strike the ball wide. ‘How has that not gone in.
A double change on 75 minutes seemed to spark an immediate reaction from Newcastle. Saint-Maximin creating some space to fire a wonderful shot from 20 yards that beat Leno but couldn’t beat the post, thudding of the bottom of his left upright and back into play. So unlucky and a goal that would have made for a nervy end to the game no doubt.
Saint-Maximin had, once again, been outstanding and deserved better really.
Into injury time and it was more misery for the Magpies with even the much maligned Ozil managing to get on the scoresheet, tapping past Dubravka from close range.
And wouldn't you believe it, there was still time for substitute Lacazette to enter the pitch and tap in for a fourth for the Gunners.
A good first half thrown away.