Lucas Torreira tenacious as Arsenal continue progress under Unai Emery
Arsenal recorded a second consecutive away win with a 2-1 victory over Newcastle United on Saturday. Unai Emery's side recovered from a sloppy first half to seize control of the game, although they could not hold out for a first clean sheet of the season.
A stunning free kick from Granit Xhaka opened the deadlock, before Mesut Ozil side-footed home from the edge of the box to put Arsenal in command. However, a late header from Ciaran Clark ensured there were a few nervous moments before the three points were assured.
This is a fixture Ozil usually contrives to miss, so to see him not only turn up but net the winner will be hugely satisfying for the Arsenal fans. Although he was a peripheral figure in the first half, his quality eventually told.
The contribution of new signing Lucas Torreira will also please the supporters. Although he started on the bench, he came on at half-time for another tenacious cameo.
Emery will be delighted to have won a third consecutive game and established some semblance of momentum. The Gunners are in the midst of a favourable run of fixtures and need to take advantage of that good fortune if they are to stay within touching distance of their rivals.
Emery's wait for his first clean sheet as Arsenal manager goes on. The defending for Newcastle's late consolation wasn't particularly good, and a better side might have taken advantage of one of several earlier lapses.
Petr Cech also yet again looked uncomfortable with the ball at his feet. Bernd Leno is likely to get his chance in the Europa League -- if he impresses in that competition, he'll inevitably put the older keeper under real pressure.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Is Emery a genius who makes game-changing half time substitutions, or is he simply getting his starting XI wrong? The jury is still out on this one, but he does deserve credit for winning consecutive away games -- something Arsene Wenger didn't manage at any point last season.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Petr Cech, 6 -- During the international break, Cech spoke out about criticism of his footwork. He may have made a bit of a rod for his own back there, drawing attention to an area of his game that is becoming increasingly problematic. The first time Newcastle put him under any kind of pressure, he conceded a corner kick. Opposition strikers and fans are bound to pile the pressure on him from this point forward.
DF Hector Bellerin, 6 -- Yet again, Bellerin was effectively called upon the play along the entire right flank. Inevitably, he can sometimes look outnumbered and subsequently vulnerable, but his energy levels are remarkable. Furthermore, one of the main weaknesses in Bellerin's game has been defending at the back post, but for the most part he was solid in that respect.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 6 -- There was a moment in the first half when Mustafi tumbled inexplicably to the ground which seemed to sum up his Arsenal career to date. The sooner Laurent Koscielny is fit again, the better.
DF Sokratis Papastathopolous, 8 -- This was the grizzly Greek's best performance in an Arsenal shirt. With his partner looking typically uncertain, he was called upon to show surprising recovery pace to bail Arsenal out on more than one occasion.
DF Nacho Monreal, 7 -- The energy levels he shows for a player in his 30s suggest Arsenal would be smart to offer him a new contract. With careful management, he could be an effective full-back for a good few years yet.
MF Granit Xhaka, 8 -- Despite his mistake against Cardiff, Emery chose to keep faith with the Swiss international. Perhaps it was for his height, as he was called upon to win several aerial balls as Rafa Benitez's team racked up the attacking set pieces. Xhaka was also the unlikely source of Arsenal's opening goal, smashing a brilliant free kick home from range.
MF Matteo Guendouzi, 6 -- The Frenchman became the first teenager to start each of Arsenal's first five games since Johan Djourou 12 years ago. However, he lasted just 45 minutes before being replaced by Torreira.
MF Aaron Ramsey, 6 -- In the first half, Ramsey was involved in Arsenal's two best moves, but one ended in him fluffing an attempted cross with his weaker left foot. When the game became more stretched he looked more effective, but he's yet to convince as Arsenal's new No. 10.
FW Mesut Ozil, 7 -- In a relatively rare appearance at St. James' Park, Ozil initially struggled to impose his quality on the game. However, like the rest of the team, he improved dramatically in the second half, sweeping home what proved to be the winning goal at the end of a flowing team move.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 6 -- This was one of those games when Aubameyang's deployment on the left-wing looked somewhat awkward. That was reflected in the fact that it was he, rather than Alexandre Lacazette, who was substituted for Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 7 -- The Frenchman didn't get too much service, but still fought relentlessly with the centre-backs. He regularly dropped back into midfield to offer an out ball, and had some great moments of interplay with Arsenal's other forwards. Credit to him: he has played himself into Emery's first-choice XI.
MF Lucas Torreira, 8 -- Came on for Guendouzi and immediately helped Arsenal take control of the game. His place in the team for the next Premier League game is surely assured.
FW Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 6 -- Introduced for Aubameyang and almost scored with a shot at the near post.
FW Danny Welbeck, N/R -- Came on for Ramsey and offered a threat on the break.