Arsenal bounced back from a humbling defeat to Liverpool last weekend with a 2-0 win at home to Newcastle on Saturday thanks to second half goals from Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.
On a bitterly cold lunchtime in north London, the contest rapidly settled into a mind-numbing pattern. Arsenal boasted an unwavering monopoly of possession but almost exclusively in front of Newcastle's compact 4-4-2.
For Eddie Howe's first game in Newcastle's technical area, the former Bournemouth boss changed the shape and the chaotically open approach from an exciting but calamitous debut against Brentford last weekend.
Poised to pounce on the counter Newcastle actually sparked the first flickers of threat, despite Arsenal's mounting pass count, when Jonjo Shelvey's crack from range forced Aaron Ramsdale to tip his effort onto the crossbar.
Arsenal's painfully ponderous possession finally began to tentatively crank up in tempo as the first half drew to a close. Saka floated from right to left and received a pass in a rare pocket of space within the penalty area, wriggling a cross back from the byline for Emile Smith Rowe to force a stunning stop from Martin Dubravka.
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The keeper's parry fell perfectly to the feet of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, only for the Arsenal forward to make a strong bid for miss of the season by scuffing the ball onto the post from point black range in the 41st minute.
As the second half threatened to slip into the same monotony, Saka broke the deadlock with a flurried interchange 11 minutes after the interval. Having again drifted over to add another body on the left flank, Saka combined with Smith Rowe before darting onto Nuno Tavares' pass into the box, rifling a crisp shot into the bottom corner.
Saka's replacement, Martinelli, rapidly cancelled out the disappointment his English teammate's substitution roused by doubling Arsenal's lead after 66 minutes. With Takehiro Tomiyasu's clipped pass tumbling over his shoulder, the Brazilian deftly volleyed a superb effort over the stranded Dubravka to give the Gunners a commanding advantage.
Howe's side crept out of their shell as the game wore on but all too little too late as the wait for a first league win of the season is extended to 13 games.
Aaron Ramsdale (GK) – 7/10 – Dealt well with the little work he had to do.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (RB) – 8/10 – Certainly got the best out of his repeated duels with Allan Saint-Maximin, crowning a solid defensive display with a moment of guile for Martinelli's goal.
Ben White (CB) – 7/10 – Tasked with carrying the ball out of defence but met with considerably less pressure than Liverpool dished out last week.
Gabriel (CB) – 7/10 – Very much woken up from the first whistle of this early kick off by a robust, to say the least, approach from Newcastle's front line which he dealt with well..
Nuno Tavares (LB) – 6/10 – Taking up very high starting positions when Arsenal had possession, the youngster repeatedly got into dangerous positions but – aside from Saka's goal – didn't make the most of them.
Thomas Partey (CM) – 6/10 – Managed to stem the flow of Newcastle's counters but not particularly penetrative when he was on the ball.
Albert Sambi Lokonga (CM) – 6/10 – Ever eager to break Newcastle's lines but all too sporadic with his attempts to do so.
Martin Odegaard (AM) – 5/10 – Constantly on the move searching for a pocket of space between Newcastle's banks of four, Odegaard struggled to make the next pass when he was picked out in that area.
Bukayo Saka (RW) – 8/10 – Offering the most incisive threat while on the pitch, everyone of an Arsenal persuasion will be praying to every divine entity the injury that forced him off is not too serious.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ST) – 5/10 – Missed his guilt-edged chance with just his eighth involvement of the match, scarcely made up for his blunder thereafter.
Emile Smith Rowe (LW) – 6/10 – Grew into the game, particularly as the space began to open up after Arsenal took the lead.
Gabriel Martinelli (RW) – 8/10 – A goal with your second touch amounts to about as much instant impact Arteta could have asked for.
Alexandre Lacazette (ST) – N/A
Mohamed Elneny (CM) – N/A
Martin Dubravka (GK) – 7/10 – On his first club start of the season Dubravka showed little rust, keeping the score level for longer than the balance of play warranted.
Emil Krafth (RB) – 4/10 – A non-entity going forward and struggled in his own third as well.
Jamaal Lascelles (CB) – 4/10 – Often the man to hack the ball away for Newcastle but looked uncomfortable when trying to play his way out.
Fabian Schar (CB) – 5/10 – Produced a last ditch tackle inside his own box in the first half but bypassed for Martinelli's goal all too easily.
Matt Ritchie (LB) – 3/10 – Rarely got the better of Saka, had to be substituted for fear of a yellow card being upgraded in the second half.
Ryan Fraser (RM) – 4/10 – Penned back for much of the contest.
Joe Willock (CM) – 4/10 – Returning to the club that moulded him from primary school, Willock skirted around the fringes of the contest.
Jonjo Shelvey (CM) – 6/10 – Newcastle's likeliest route to goal through his early balls over the top rather than the repeated strikes from range.
Allan Saint-Maximin (LM) – 5/10 – Forced into much more defending from a deeper position, only intermittently flickered into life.
Callum Wilson (ST) – 4/10 – Almost seemed intent on wrestling the shirt off Gabriel's back at times, Wilson was always on the lookout for a ball over the top.
Joelinton (ST) – 6/10 – Picking up from where he left off last week, the Brazilian was scarcely lacking for industry but not particularly dexterous.
Miguel Almiron (CM) – 6/10 – Added some energy but little end product.
Jacob Murphy (RM) – N/A
Isaac Hayden (CM) – N/A
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