Arsenal manager Unai Emery urged Mesut Ozil to contribute more goals after the German’s strike secured a third consecutive victory for his side and left Newcastle without a win.
Despite being frustrated in the first half, Granit Xhaka opened the scoring for the Gunners with an excellent long-range free-kick after the break, before Ozil followed up Alexandre Lacazette’s blocked effort to double the advantage.
Ciaran Clark responded in stoppage time for the hosts, however Newcastle remain 18th in the table with one win in their past 10 league games.
Ozil – making his 200th appearance for the club – ensured Arsenal won consecutive away league games for the first time since May 2017.
“His quality helps the team. It is important he scored. I want not only for him to assist, we need him to go in the box and score like today,” said Emery – who had challenged the midfielder to “do more” before the game.
“I see the players are the same, each has quality. I will work with every player and continue our process to create the team as we want.”
Meanwhile, Rafael Benitez’s side remain on one point, equalling their worst return after five Premier League games – although they had much the better of the first-half chances as they pressed an Arsenal defence determined to build from the back.
The early pressure forced errors, as keeper Petr Cech passed the ball out for a corner and defender Shkodran Mustafi’s stumble was indicative of an Arsenal back-line still trying to get comfortable with a new style of play under Emery.
However, Arsenal returned the stronger side after the interval and scored twice in 10 second half minutes to secure the points – despite a late Newcastle rally.
Arsenal build momentum under Emery
Following a tough start to Emery’s reign, with opening league fixtures against champions Manchester City and Chelsea, victory at St James’ Park is the Gunners third consecutive win and they now appear to be gaining some momentum under Arsene Wenger’s successor.
Arsenal, who managed to see off a resurgent Cardiff prior to the international break, knew they would face a stern test against a Newcastle side that had adopted a defensive approach against Chelsea and Manchester City already this season – and were unable to settle into the match as the hosts pressed from the start.
Newcastle’s first-half approach demonstrated exactly how to disrupt Arsenal’s play under Emery, and both Cech and Mustafi in particular appeared hesitant on the ball under repeated pressure.
But the Gunners were able to take control of the game as the hosts’ early energy faded – although it took Xhaka’s sublime strike on 49 minutes to really give the visitors confidence.
Arsenal looked increasingly comfortable following Ozil’s cool finish and were able to see the game out despite Clark’s late reply as Emery’s side continued to amend a poor recent away league record that had seen them lose eight of their last 10 prior to kick-off.
And it did appear, once they got into their stride, that Arsenal’s players are adapting to Emery’s philosophy – although on evidence there remains plenty of work to do.
“We are improving. We need to continue working individually and collectively to improve more things. In the first half we didn’t control like we wanted but the second half we were better and the victory is just,” said Spaniard Emery.
“We need to improve and score more individually. We need to work, every player – not only the attacking players but the midfielders and centre-backs from set-pieces.”
Positives to take for winless Newcastle
Benitez’s side have been dealt a difficult opening league fixture list this season, having already faced Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City and now the Gunners – with only a point against Cardiff to show for their efforts.
In search of a first victory, the manager made four changes to the side that suffered defeat by City prior to the international break, as Jacob Murphy, Matt Ritchie, Isaac Hayden and Joselu were introduced.
Both Murphy and Joselu proved worthy additions as, along with Perez, the home side went about forcing Arsenal into errors in front of a home crowd encouraged by Newcastle’s desire to get forward.
In previous games against Chelsea and Manchester City, the Magpies had as little as 19 and 21% possession but – despite falling to a fourth 2-1 defeat by a ‘big six’ side – there was a definite change in approach as the home side sensed mistakes in the opposition defence.
However Benitez’s side tired from their early exertions and were unable to have the same impact on the match in the second half as Xhaka’s moment of quality forced them to chase a result – leaving more space for the Gunners to play.
The winless start must, obviously, be seen in the context of who the Magpies have faced but, as the schedule begins to look more favourable, Benitez will know results must come quickly for his side, who remain in the relegation places.
“We did really well in the first half. The feeling was we could get something, then we conceded an early goal – two moments of quality and it is difficult for us. The first half we were creating and pushing but you have to take your chances,” said Benitez.
“That’s what happens when you have quality like they do, it is difficult for anyone. To react against a good team, you have to attack and push higher and you are more exposed.
“It is a pity, still we are scoring and having chances. We knew it could be like that, it is tough. Where we are, we have to keep the belief the same way we did last season.”
Man of the match – Alexandre Lacazette
Xhaka’s threat from range – the stats
- All four of Granit Xhaka’s Premier League goals for Arsenal have been from outside the box.
- Xhaka’s opener was in fact Arsenal’s first goal from a direct free-kick since Alexis Sanchez’s strike against Middlesbrough in April 2017.
- And all 10 of Arsenal’s Premier League goals this season have been scored by different players – including one own goal.
- The Gunners have opened the scoring in each of their last 11 Premier League games against Newcastle.
- But Arsenal have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their first five games to a top-flight season since the 1988-89 campaign.
- One point from five games represents Newcastle’s joint-worst start to a Premier League campaign, matching their start in 1999.
- In four Premier League games against Newcastle, Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil has had a hand in four goals – scoring three.
Newcastle travel to Crystal Palace next Saturday (15:00 BST), while Arsenal’s Europa League campaign begins at the Emirates on Thursday night against Ukrainian side Vorskla (20:00 BST).
The Gunners then host Everton on Sunday (16:00 BST).