By Rob Kelly
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice in a dominant team display as we eased past Newcastle United to maintain our recent resurgence.
It was only nine days earlier that we had found it tough going to break down the Magpies in the Emirates FA Cup third round, and they remained obdurate opponents during the first half.
But we cut loose after the interval, with Aubameyang opening the scoring, before Bukayo Saka added our second soon after and our captain wrapped things up near the end after good work from Cedric.
Having been frustrated last time out by Crystal Palace, we were keen to get back to winning ways but found chances limited during the early knockings – although Aubameyang came close with an effort that hit the post.
Most of our first-half chances fell to our captain, and he soon flashed another shot over the bar after good break involving Thomas Partey and Emile Smith Rowe.
Newcastle offered little attacking threat but remained tough to break down, with Aubameyang poking one shot wide from inside the area and then seeing a deflected cross nearly fly into the top corner only for Karl Darlow to make a flying save.
David Luiz sent a free header over at the end of a low-key opening 45, and less than two minutes into the second half we tested the Newcastle goalkeeper against with a fierce Alex Lacazette drive.
But minutes later we had the breakthrough as the influential Partey releases Aubameyang on the break with a fine pass, and our captain raced in on goal and fired past Darlow to give us the lead.
We doubled our advantage shortly afterwards when Smith Rowe - enjoying another fine game – entered the area, tied up his marker in knots and cut the ball back for Saka to stroke home into the empty net.
We remained in total control and added a third 13 minutes before the end when Cedric did well to get to the byeline and cut it back for Aubameyang to slot home beyond Darlow.
That sealed the three points and a thoroughly satisfactory night for Mikel Arteta’s side.
HOW IT HAPPENED
WHAT IT MEANS
We continue our defence of the Emirates FA Cup as we hit the road for our fourth-round clash against either Southampton or Shrewsbury Town on Saturday.
We then head to St Mary’s to face the Saints in the Premier League the following Tuesday, before hosting Manchester United at Emirates Stadium.
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