Arsenal breeze past powderpuff Magpies with normal service resumed at St James Park
Newcastle United 0-2 Arsenal
With only three players, Odegaard, Ceballos and Xhaka, retaining their starting places following Arsenal's UEFA Cup Semi Final this game represented a great opportunity for Newcastle United to all but secure Premier League football for another season.
Instead, an Arsenal goal in the 5th minutes and a powder puff first half has left the Magpies with a mountain to climb. And when Aubameyang notched his customary goal for the Gunners with 20 minutes left, that was that.
A poor show against a weakened Arsenal a real disappointment with the pressure largely off with Fulham having lost to Chelsea yesterday.
Fabian Schar would receive a red card for a challenge that Mike Dean could easily have produced a yellow. But that's Mike Dean for you. He booked Almiron for literally not even touching a player, and didn't produce a second yellow for Xhaka who deliberately stepped in front of a Sean Longstaff run.
Normal service resumed, on every level.
The Magpies got off to the worst possible start in this one. A cross from Bellerin should have offered Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the perfect opportunity to score, but the Arsenal striker fluffed his lines in front of goal with a fresh air shot. The ball fortuitously fell to Elneny however who could side foot home his first league goal of the season.
The visitors scoring in under 5 minutes to put Bruce's men behind in a game once more.
Newcastle responded reasonably well to the really set back. A decent cross from Ritchie after some good work from ASM to feed him would fail to find a man in the middle. The Saint-Maximin himself would force Ryan into a good save in the Arsenal goal.
The next effort of note would come from Xhaka. A lovely curling effort that would force Dubravka to make a good save. The resultant corner would then have to be cleared off the line by Almiron with Elneny close to doubling his personal and Arsenal's tally for the afternoon.
Almiron would then get himself in the book for making NO contact with Ceballos who conned the referee into thinking he'd been clipped. Disgusting.
Indeed the diving from the Arsenal side was an embarrassment all game. Players throwing themselves to the floor at every opportunity.
The Magpies would find it tough to create anything of note in the first half however. A Fernandez header well over the bar from a corner all they would have to show for 30 minutes of toil. Arsenal well on top in the opening period with Arteta no doubt wondering if they would rue not pushing harder for a second goal in that opening period.
United would start the second half with slightly more life in them however. Wilson testing Gabriel who, of course, would fall over after brushing arms with the Newcastle striker.
Mike Dean would then stop the game for a calf strain for an Arsenal player when Newcastle had the ball, then ignoring a blatant block from an already booked Xhaka after blatantly stepping in front of Sean Longstaff.
Shocking officiating from start to finish.
In a game slowed and punctuated by the diving of the London club, the early intensity shown from the home side evaporated and typically Arsenal pounced.
The provider, Martinelli, whipping in a great cross for a leaping Aubameyang to side foot home at the back post from just 4 yards out. 70 minutes gone and game over.
The game, now stretched, gave Arsenal the chance to hit their hosts on the break, whilst dictating the pace of the game.
There was the welcome sight of Fabian Schar, replacing the booked Fernandez with 20 minutes remaining, but that was about the sum of any positivity for Newcastle.
One decent move from Murphy, played in on the right from a quick free kick, would allow Joelinton to feed Shelvey. But his strike would be blocked in a rare moment of attacking intent from Steve Bruce's men.
There would still be time for Fabian Schar to get his marching orders with a tackle from behind being deemed enough to see him sent off. Of course it was Mike. Could have been a yellow, but why give a yellow when you can give a red eh!