Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shakes off Rust as Gunners Fire Past Lightweight Magpies
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang maintained his fine scoring record against Newcastle United as Arsenal continued to climb the table with a 3-0 win at Emirates Stadium.
Gunners captain Aubameyang has endured a testing season along with his team-mates but enjoys facing Newcastle, scoring in each of the sides' previous three meetings heading into this game - including vital openers in both Premier League encounters last season.
That trend continued on Monday with the breakthrough goal five minutes after half-time and a clinching third 13 minutes from the end as Arsenal picked off a Newcastle team showing eight changes but little improvement from their defeat at Sheffield United.
Bukayo Saka doubled the home side's advantage between Aubameyang's strikes as Mikel Arteta's men breached the top half, albeit having played four games more than 11th-placed Aston Villa.
Arsenal should have led after 15 minutes when Karl Darlow blocked Saka's low shot with his right boot but directed the ball only as far as Aubameyang, who hit the crossbar rather than the back of an empty net from a tight angle.
Aubameyang missed the target again under pressure from a retreating Andy Carroll and soon tallied his 10th consecutive attempt without scoring in the league, also seeing a deflected cross clip the post before the break.
Darlow got down to make a strong one-handed save from Alexandre Lacazette at the start of the second half but was soon beaten as Aubameyang finally got his goal, driving beyond the goalkeeper at his near post as Arsenal countered following a Newcastle corner.
Another break from another aimless visiting attack set the stage for the second on the hour mark, with Emile Smith Rowe able to run at Jamaal Lascelles and cut a low cross back for Saka to sweep in.
Newcastle, facing a ninth game without victory, were grateful to Darlow for a brave block as Lacazette headed goalwards, yet it was merely another temporary reprieve as Aubameyang completed the scoring, benefiting from a favourable VAR check as Cedric Soares kept the ball in play.