Arsenal produce a new title trick to silence Newcastle in Man City warning
St. James’ Park was where Arsenal’s season came to an end last year, but after this victory the title race is still alive.
Mikel Arteta’s side defeated Newcastle 2-0 here, closing the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City to one point.
City have a game in hand and remain clear favourites for the title, but Arsenal are showing how they will not go down without a fight.
It was fitting they served up such a resilient performance at St. James’ Park, as this was the setting for where their campaign crumbled last season - and their mentality was questioned.
The Gunners lost 2-0 to Newcastle and with that their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League went up in smoke, with Tottenham pipping them to fourth place on the last day.
“We did not deserve to be on the pitch,” blasted midfielder Granit Xhaka. “What happened was a disastrous performance. If someone is not ready for this game, then stay at home. We need people who have the balls to come here and play.”
There was none of that this time, though, as a Martin Odegaard strike and an own-goal from Fabian Schar fired Arsenal to victory.
It was a performance full of fight and heart from Arsenal, as they coped with the atmosphere and physical approach from Newcastle.
Last season, they folded under the pressure, but this time they rose to the occasion and whatever happens in the title race, Arteta will be pleased by that.
In the opening 10 minutes, it seemed impossible that Arsenal would be the side going in 1-0 up at the break.
Newcastle, roared on by a raucous home crowd, started like a train and within 90 seconds Jacob Murphy had struck the post.
Moments later, the hosts thought they had a penalty after Jakub Kiwior was pinged for appearing to handball a shot by Bruno Guimaraes. Replays showed it the centre-back’s thigh first and VAR came to Arsenal’s rescue.
The Gunners settled after that and Odegaard put them ahead by arrowing an effort from outside the box into the bottom corner.
The Norwegian was given far too much time to pick his spot, and it summed up how he caused Newcastle problems throughout the first half.
Odegaard was everywhere and he so nearly made it 2-0 just before the break, but Nick Pope stayed big to deny him. It was the third good chance Arsenal had squandered, with Pope also keeping out Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli when they were clean through on goal.
It was a frantic and physical game, which showed no sign of letting up - even after the break. Within the space of six second-half minutes both sides had hit the woodwork, with Alexander Isak heading onto the post and Martinelli curling an effort onto the crossbar.
In between that, Aaron Ramsdale had somehow kept out Schar’s header when the centre-back was unmarked five yards out.
It felt inevitable that there would be another goal and it was just a question of which way it would go.
In the end, it was Arsenal who doubled their with just under 20 minutes to go. The Gunners broke quickly, with Gabriel Jesus playing Martinelli down the left.
Newcastle did not close the winger down and his cross was tucked into his own net by Schar.
Finally, St. James’ Park was silenced. Arsenal, however, are not going quietly in this title race.