Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Iwobi, Ozil, Lacazette
Subs: Cech, Elneny, Suarez, Jenkinson, Mkhitaryan, Nketiah, Aubameyang
Arsenal boosted their Champions League hopes, and moved into third place after a 2-0 win over Newcastle at the Emirates this evening.
The visitors five man defence meant they were always going to sit deep, and early on the Gunners dominated possession without creating much. A corner looked to have given us the lead when Ramsey finished at the back post, but the referee harshly disallowed it for what he saw as a foul by Sokratis on Lejeune. Replays later showed Taylor couldn’t have seen the incident clearly, so ruled out a goal on a guess.
The Welshman had to be alert at the other end, tracking back well to defend near our box when Newcastle beat the offside trap, and generally it was scrappy, untidy stuff which suited Rafa Benitez’s side.
And on a night when few were shining, the captain for the night made a telling contribution on the half hour to put Arsenal ahead. Guendouzi played it to Ramsey with his back to goal, he flicked it on to Lacazette who gave it back to him inside the box and his first-time shot went in off the far post. 1-0.
The game was played primarily in the Newcastle half, a low Kolasinac cross almost found Ozil at the near post, and a superb flowing move in first half injury time almost doubled the lead but Lacazette’s effort was brilliantly cleared off the line by Ritchie.
There were no changes by either manager at the break, but was a scare when Maitland-Niles went down with an injury early in the second period but after some treatment he carried on. Crosses from Ozil and Kolasinac caused problems for the visitors, Monreal picked up a yellow card for winning the ball, and on 60 minutes Emery made his first change when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came on for Iwobi.
Sokratis headed over from an Ozil corner, before Ramsey picked up an injury and was replaced by Mohamed Elneny in the 67th minute. Aubameyang forced the keeper into a save after being played in by Ozil, Kolasinac picked up a yellow card, and nerves were tingling a bit with just a one goal lead.
Benitez brought on Kenedy and Muto to try and find a way back into the game, Ki shot wide, and it looked like some pressure might have been on. But then Lacazette flicked the ball forward, Aubameyang headed it back over the defence, and the French international had continued his run to lob it over the keeper and make it 2-0.
It should have been 3-0 when the goalkeeper flapped the ball into his own net, but somehow Taylor gave a handball against Lacazette. The useless bald gimp-trumpet.
There were four minutes of added time, not a lot else happened, and the win puts us ahead of Sp*rs who had a 10 point lead over us just a few weeks ago. It is happening again? It might very well be.