Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United
Arsenal moved up to third place in the Premier League courtesy of a 2-0 win against Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners went into the game knowing that they could boost their Champions League qualification hopes with a win after rivals Tottenham suffered a late defeat at Liverpool on Sunday.
And, having enjoyed the lion share of possession throughout, the hosts deservedly secured the victory when Alexandre Lacazette’s late effort added to Aaron Ramsey’s goal after the half-hour.
The win moves Unai Emery’s side two points above Spurs and Manchester United, while Newcastle, who barely threatened throughout in this encounter, remain down in 14th position but are seven points clear of the relegation places.
There were three changes for Arsenal from the win against Manchester United in the league on March 10 as Laurent Koscielny, Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were replaced by Shkodran Mustafi, Matteo Guendouzi and Alex Iwobi.
Newcastle boasted just one change from the 2-2 draw at Bournemouth on March 16 as skipper Jamaal Lascelles replaced Federico Fernandez after recovering from a knee injury.
Neither side could muster a shot on goal in a scrappy opening to the contest, although Arsenal thought they had gone ahead in the 13th minute when Ramsey converted from close range after Iwobi flicked on a corner from the left.
However, referee Anthony Taylor spotted Sokratis’ slight pull on the shirt of Florian Lejeune in the middle of the area and awarded a free-kick to the Magpies.
Arsenal continued to probe without testing Martin Dubravka in the Newcastle goal until they finally got their noses in front on the half-hour.
Ramsey’s clever pass found Lacazette just inside the area and he managed to return the ball to the Welshman via a ricochet off a defender and he found the far corner of the net off the post with a low left-foot strike.
After Arsenal scored with the game’s first official effort on target, it opened things up a little with Newcastle trying to respond quickly as Bernd Leno had to be alert to turn an angled effort from Salomon Rondon behind for a corner at his front post.
However, it was the hosts who looked the more likely to add a second and they went very close in first half stoppage time.
Mesut Ozil picked out Lacazette in the middle of the area and the Frenchman turned and hit an effort which beat Dubravka and was destined for the back of the net until Matt Ritchie produced a superb headed clearance on his own goalline.
Arsenal had a hopeful penalty shout turned down on 65 minutes when the ball bounced up off Paul Dummett’s hand as he slid in to block Lacazette’s run towards goal, before Dubravka produced a good stop to parry away a fierce angled drive from Aubameyang seven minutes later.
Arsenal’s killer second came on 83 minutes when Lacazette touched the ball to Aubameyang and then raced in behind Lascelles to get on the end of the return pass, before coolly lifting his effort over the advancing Dubravka and into the empty net.
Dubravka then appeared to punch the ball into his own net on 86 minutes, but Taylor disallowed a second Arsenal goal in the match for what appeared to be a harsh handball decision against Lacazette.
Craig Smithson is a journalist with over two decades of experience at the keyboard. A life-long Middlesbrough fan, Craig has an in-depth knowledge of all football and is also a keen fan of boxing amongst other sports.