Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Wilshere, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette
Subs: Ospina, Chambers, Coquelin, Kolasinac, Elneny, Welbeck, Giroud
An outstanding first half goal from Mesut Ozil gave Arsenal a 1-0 win over Newcastle at the Emirates this afternoon, although the overall performance was far from convincing.
Arsene Wenger made just one change to his team from the 0-0 draw with West Ham, as Alexandre Lacazette came in for Olivier Giroud. It meant that Ainsley Maitland-Niles continued at left back in a back four.
The Gunners started brightly, and Lacazette was first to test Newcastle keeper Elliot with a shot from outside the box in the third minute. At the other end Lascelles header forced Cech to turn the ball around the post, before Bellerin almost found a way through but saw his effort deflected wide.
Slick interplay between Bellerin, Ozil, and Lacazette created a good chance for Sanchez but he blasted over when he really should have hit the target. That was followed by a superb run from Maitland-Niles who drove through midfield, beating opponents, before cracking a low shot just wide from the edge of the box.
Arsenal were on top, but before the anxiety levels about dominating and not scoring could rise, we took the lead in the 23rd minute. Iwobi’s low cross saw a Sanchez shot blocked, and under pressure from the Chilean the defender’s header fell for Ozil who watched it all the way and dispatched a sensational first time volley into the top corner to make it 1-0.
Bellerin had a chance to double the lead shortly afterwards, but the Spaniard’s first time effort from an Alexis pass was put well over the bar. Xhaka fizzed a low shot not far wide, and Ozil was involved once more when he drove forward, played a one-two with Lacazette, before forcing Elliot into a save at his near post.
Alexis shot wide as the first half came to a close, and at the break Arsenal were good value for their one goal lead.
There were no changes from either side at half-time, and an early Alexis attempt was deflected wide with the keeper rooted to the spot. Iwobi almost got on the end of a rebound off the keeper, Maitland-Niles fired wide from distance, and Lacazette’s fine touch helped him find space inside the box but he skied his shot well over.
Sloppiness at the back provided substitute Ritchie with a sight of goal but he fired over, before more poor defending saw Cech called into action as he palmed away a low shot from Murphy.
Lacazette had another great sight of goal when he was put through by Iwobi, but he tried a cheeky chip rather than a low shot across the keeper and put the ball high over the bar. The Nigerian then showed good close control in the box but found no venom in his shot which was easy for the keeper.
Arsene Wenger made a double change in the 72nd minute bringing on Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck for Iwobi and Lacazette, and the Frenchman was involved quickly, nodding an Alexis cross into the path of Wilshere whose first time effort was well saved by the goalkeeper.
The one goal lead was precarious and it was hammered home as Newcastle put pressure on and a Joselu shot deflected just wide off Koscielny with Cech going the other way. Bellerin made a very important intervention as a low cross from the right skidded all the way across our box, and as the game entered the last 10 minutes Perez headed wide from what was a very presentable Newcastle chance.
Monreal picked up a yellow card for a cynical foul to stop a Newcastle break, and Francis Coquelin was introduced for the final couple of minutes in place of Alexis.
There were four minutes of additional time at the end of the game, Xhaka got a booking for a foul he had to make after a careless pass, but in the end Arsenal hung on for their first win in four games.