Arsenal fans knew that they needed a big break in the game against Newcastle United because if they weren’t able to pick up the win, fans would continue to question the legitimacy of Mikel Arteta as the club’s new manager.
The first half didn’t really fill fans with all too much hope or optimism but even with that being the case, there was a real sense that if they made the necessary changes at half time, they could cause Newcastle problems.
Signed, sealed, delivered
They did exactly that and after coming out for the second 45 minutes, they looked like a different team. Goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette made the difference to secure the 4-0 triumph on the night.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was clearly relieved with the win.
“After the break we started saying we had to start closing the gap on the top teams and turn draws into wins. Today was the first opportunity and we’ve done it. All good.
“I’m so pleased for Laca [Alexandra Lacazette] – the reaction of the players and staff towards him. He fights hard for everyone. He’s been unlucky. He will gain confidence from this and knows how everyone appreciates him.”
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce, of course, was disappointed with the final result.
“The disappointing thing is the goals we gave away are not like us. They were too easy. For an hour we were where we have been all season. We switched off from that and gave away sloppy goals.
“I was delighted with the way we played in the first half. We made the wrong pass or selection when we [attacked]. Second half, we knew they would come with more intensity and we didn’t start well.
“We’ve played well enough in the first half – we have to try and keep to those levels but we didn’t get anyway near it in the second half. When you get a beating like you have, you have to lick your wounds and get on with it.”
Arsenal fans won’t really believe they can make it into fourth or higher but now that it looks like Manchester City will be banned from the Champions League for two seasons, it opens up the possibility of fifth place making their way into the competition.
If that does wind up being the case, then there’s an awful lot of potential in the Gunners making a late surge between now and the end of the campaign.
As for Newcastle, this is the sort of game that proved how they could easily have had a good season if they’d have been given a little bit more investment – and, potentially, if they’d have kept their trust in Rafa Benitez as opposed to going after Steve Bruce.
For now, though, it’s all about praising Mikel Arteta’s men for a job well done.