Arsenal end winless run in style as winter break breathes life into Mikel Arteta's side

Evening Standard

Goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette helped Arsenal record a crucial 4-0 win over Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium.

Mikel Arteta sprung a surprise with his starting line-up, handing a first Premier League start to 20-year-old striker Eddie Nketiah ahead of Alexandre Lacazette.

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Dani Ceballos was also selected for his first start since November as the Gunners attempted to end a run of four consecutive draws.

After spending a week training in Dubai, Arteta had the opportunity to instil his philosophy into his players as they begin their push to qualify for the Champions League.

There were glimpses of what Arteta's work on the training ground had consisted of: quick, one-touch passing on the ball and high-intensity pressing off it. But it was Newcastle who had the first sight of goal with two chances in the space of a minute.

Sean Longstaff's effort from range was deflected by Ceballos, forcing Bernd Leno into a smart stop. Seconds later, Joelinton really should have buried his chance, firing wide from Allan Saint-Maximin's cross.

With the home crowd growing restless, Arsenal weathered the storm and began to show some fight, with Mesut Ozil setting up Nketiah only to see his effort held by Martin Dubravka.

After a lacklustre first-half display, the Gunners came out all guns blazing after the interval and Nketiah came close to breaking the deadlock, seeing his close-range effort clip the crossbar after some good work from Pepe.

But at long last, the Gunners' star-studded attack combined to find the opener. Pepe sent a floated cross to the back post and Aubameyang rose above Valentin Lazaro to power home a superb header into the far corner.

Pepe doubled Arsenal's lead in the second half (AFP via Getty Images)
Pepe doubled Arsenal's lead in the second half (AFP via Getty Images)

Arsenal had their tails up and within three minutes, they doubled their advantage. Bukayo Saka produced a fine piece of skill to nutmeg Lazaro and cut back for Pepe, who finished calmly past Dubravka.

The Magpies had two chances to get themselves back in it but failed to take advantage. First, Ciaran Clark fired wide, albeit with a deflection, from six yards before Saint-Maximin's 20-yard curler bounced back off the woodwork.

Instead it was Arsenal who pulled away. Late goals from Ozil and Lacazette crowned a 4-0 win which fired the Gunners to within seven points of the top four.

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