Resurgent Newcastle outclass Champions League hopefuls
Magpies too good for Gunners
Arsenal came to Str James’ Park on Monday evening with Champions League qualification in their own hands but Newcastle put their recent back-to-back defeats to the top 2 behind them to give Spurs the advantage in the top 4 race going into the final game.
Eddie Howe’s team have only lost to Liverpool at home in the Premier League since the turn of the year and although Arsenal made the trip north on the back of three wins from their last four games they never looked like beating the Toon, who were the better side pretty much from start to finish.
Gunners goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale had a shaky start and almost gifted the home side the lead inside 10 minutes when he took too long on the ball, allowing Almiron to close him down but the ball deflected across goal. 10 minutes later the keeper flapped at an Almiron cross and was fortunate Ben White was on hand to clear.
Arsenal looked to find a foothold in the game midway through the half with Saka creating a couple of chances on the break but it was a fleeting spell with the home side soon getting back on top.
With 10 minutes to go in the 1st half Ramsdale made a good low save, tipping Saint-Maximin’s low drive round the post. The Magpies continued to dominate but found clear cut chances hard to come by. At the half-time whistle Arsenal would probably have been pleased to have gone in level having been off the pace for much of the game.
Within 10 minutes of the restart Newcastle had forced their 10th corner of the game and on 56 minutes they finally had the goal that their dominance deserved. Joelinton raced away down the left for the hosts and put in a pacey low cross looking for Wilson. Before the striker could get on the end of the cross, Ben White slid in and diverted the ball past Ramsdale and into his own net to the delight of the home crowd.
With their top 4 hopes hanging by a thread Arsenal threw on another striker in Lacazette, taking off defender Tavares. Still the home side looked the more threatening with Wilson just off target past the hour mark. It took until 72 minutes for Arsenal to register their first shot on target in the 2nd half, Elneny firing straight at Dubravka from the edge of the penalty area.
Pepe came on for the Gunners with 15 minutes to go but it was Newcastle substitute Murphy looking the more dangerous as he whipped in a testing cross that Arsenal scrambled clear then had a chance to double the lead but couldn’t beat Ramsdale. With 5 minutes to go it did become 2-0, Wilson saw his effort smothered by the onrushing keeper but the ball then fell to Bruno in the penalty area and the brilliant Brazilian tucked home to seal another home win at St James’ Park.
The win moves Eddie Howe’s side up to 12th and they still have a chance of a top-half finish. Their home form has been exceptional under the former Bournemouth boss, with only Manchester City, Liverpool (and Cambridge in the cup!) beating them on their own turf since he took over. Arsenal must now rely on Spurs dropping points against Norwich City to give them a top 4 chance.
The Magpies end their campaign at Burnley on Sunday, with the home side fighting to avoid the drop that Newcastle looked destined for in the early stages of the season.