Newcastle United v Arsenal: Premier League – as it happened

Nick Ames on 15 April 2018

There we go then. Newcastle have won four in a row – a brilliant run for them and one that currently looks like nailing them a top-half place. Relegation is no longer a concern. Arsenal may have other priorities but Burnley, in seventh, are only two points behind them and they won’t want to take their eye off the ball too any more times. They might consider a draw would have been fair here but didn’t really turn up creatively in the second half and were punished. Newcastle, high in tempo and thrust, punished them.

That’s all from me – join Rob Smyth for Manchester United v West Brom!

Full-time: Newcastle 2-1 Arsenal

A roar goes up! That’s a huge win for Newcastle – they are definitely, incontrovertibly safe!

Rafael Benitez celebrates after the match.
Rafael Benitez celebrates after the match. Photograph: Scott Heppell/Reuters

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90+2 min: Slimani gets a booking, I think for timewasting. Nobody really minds. Kenedy bashes a Monreal cross away and a Welbeck blast is blocked. Then Joselu wins a free-kick on halfway and that may more or less be that ...

90+1 min: We have three minutes of added time to play ...

90 min: Newcastle are close now and their stadium is thumping with nervous energy. Arsenal are undercooking a few of their passes and don’t really look crisp enough for a breakthrough. That getting-the-ball-to-the-strikers issue has actually been a thing in this half.

88 min: It’s all Arsenal probing now, trying to pick a way through, but Newcastle look solid on the whole.

86 min: Murphy replaces Ritchie for Newcastle, while young striker Nketiah is on for Iwobi.

85 min: That’s a half-sight for Arsenal, Iwobi denied very well by a sliding defender ... before Dubravka flaps at a high ball and Lacazette, recovering quickly, smacks wide when Welbeck is screaming for it.

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83 min: They do win a corner though, which Xhaka outswings from the left. It’s low, miscued and deeply disappointing – just like Elneny’s subsequent 35-yard pot shot, which was never on at all.

82 min: Maitland-Niles wins a fun chase down the left with Slimani. Arsenal are, in general, pushing Newcastle back a bit now though – without really threatening.

79 min: Maitland-Niles replaces Chambers for Arsenal, while Newcastle bring Joselu on for Perez.

77 min: Another Newcastle chance! Slimani, brilliant since he came on, powers down the left, beats Mustafi and lays off to Perez, who doesn’t quite get control of the ball at an angle and eventually slides to put it wide of the near post.

77 min: Dubravka is out confidently to claim a Xhaka corner. No real response from Arsenal yet.

75 min: ... Kenedy hits the bar! He’s sprung clear again by a neat interplay with Slimani and his effort, deflected by a lunging defender, loops up onto the frame and away. That could have been that!

74 min: Kenedy breaks down the left and for a moment looks as if he might tee up Perez in the middle, but he shows too much of the ball to Holding, and then ...

72 min: What have Arsenal got now, I wonder. Their away form has been so insipid for most of the season. Not that they’ve been bad today, especially given the changes – I must admit the goal from Ritchie came out of the blue. But they don’t really want to give Burnley, in seventh, too much encouragement by losing here. If they lost to Atletico *and* lost sixth ...

Goal! Newcastle 2-1 Arsenal (Ritchie 68)

That came from nowhere! Slimani leaps to win one header, then launches himself to power into another, and Perez leaves the ball astutely to give Ritchie space inside the area. He finishes confidently with his weaker right foot and Newcastle are ahead!

Ritchie scores the second past Czech.
Ritchie scores the second past Czech. Photograph: Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images
And reels off in celebration.
And reels off in celebration. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

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68 min: Willock, tidy on his top-flight bow, is replaced by that guy Welbeck.

67 min: Decent dig from Iwobi, who can’t find Lacazette with his first attempt but gets the ball straight back and smashes low from 20 yards. It doesn’t go far wide of Dubravka’s near post.

65 min: Good early touches from Slimani, the second seeing him blocked by Mustafi. He’s had injury issues since joining from Leicester but is now fit and should give them some interesting presence in the last 25. Ritchie blasts over from range during these musings.

63 min: A change for Newcastle now, with Gayle – who has worked very hard and did well for the goal – replaced by Slimani.

61 min: “One of the ways that Benítez has out-tacticked Wenger is to shove people up against Elneny, who’s been hemmed in and has had nothing like the influence he’s had over his last couple of games,” notes Charles Antaki. “It’s true that Willock has been no help, but as the commentators keep telling us, he’s only 13.”

A late Ritchie challenge on Monreal temporarily raises the volume, meanwhile.

Monreal, challenged by Ritchie.
Monreal, challenged by Ritchie. Photograph: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters

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58 min: Maybe this game needs Welbz. Excellent goal from him on Thursday, in fairness. I was sitting yards from it and he looked so strong in the move leading up to it. The finish, too, was superb.

56 min: Those Perez spurts aside there really isn’t a lot going on, though Aubameyang heads a deep Chambers delivery across goal only for a black & white shirt to stop it reaching Lacazette.

53 min: Perez spurns another decent position after another fine Shelvey pass from range, allowing Mustafi to beat him in a winnable one-on-one.

51 min: An excellent Diame interception sends Perez scurrying away into some gaping space in the Arsenal half, but he never really gets his head up despite men dashing up to support and Xhaka gets back to dispossess him before any trouble can unfold.

Xhaka and Perez meet.
Xhaka and Perez meet. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

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50 min: Scrappy stuff at the moment, Arsenal snatching at a few things in their own half but Newcastle not putting a lot together when they get the ball.

47 min: It’s mainly Arsenal possession early on, a Monreal cross eventually being defended before Iwobi is penalised for handball.

Peeeep! We are back underway

Another goal or two in this one, I reckon.

“If Jonjo Shelvey can cause this many problems with through balls to Dwight Gayle, imagine what he could do playing with Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford. Are we really going to pass up that option for the sake of Henderson, Dier and Livermore?” asks Shaun Wilkinson.

It’s an interesting question. Is there sometimes too much focus on what Shelvey *doesn’t* do?

Half-time: Newcastle 1-1 Arsenal

That is indeed the half and it’s been enjoyable. We’ve seen very nice goals from Lacazette and Perez, both the results of excellent passes from 60 yards or so back, and a flurry of other activity on top. Arsenal should probably have put away one of the chances they created in the five minutes before half-time, but it’s a good scrap and we’ll see much more of it in 15 minutes. Back shortly!

45 min: Nearing half-time now. It’s been a fun half, better than I’d expected to be honest.

42 min: And that should definitely be 2-1! Elneny forces an error from Diame and now Lacazette has a run towards the area with men either side. He could even have a crack at goal himself but instead passes left to Willock, who misses his shot completely. Elneny, coming up on the other side, was in an even better position to score.

Willock squanders a great chance to put Arsenal ahead.
Willock squanders a great chance to put Arsenal ahead. Photograph: TGSPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

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41 min: Now Chambers gets a free header from a Xhaka corner, and might do better than head over once he meets it.

39 min: ... which should lead to a second goal. Aubameyang puts the free-kick into the wall but Xhaka picks the ball back up and chips it to the far post where ... I think ... Mustafi is stationed to head across. He does so and Chambers, running in from an almost identical position to Lacazette earlier, slices well wide!

38 min: Lejeune steams out to nip in ahead of Iwobi but instead bundles him over and Arsenal have a dangerous, central 25-yard free-kick ...

37 min: Seeing the goal again, such a sharp finish by Perez but Mustafi was motionless at the near post there and let his opponent get a run on him. That’s happened before.

34 min: Shelvey’s radar finds Gayle yet *again* and, although nothing comes of it, he looks bang on point today – in open play anyway.

33 min: Perez tricks right to the line, and almost up to goal, but his drilled centre is hacked away. Chambers didn’t like being run at there.

Goal! Newcastle 1-1 Arsenal (Perez 29)

That is a lovely goal! Shelvey puts the ball on a sixpence for Gayle again, spraying it 50 yards right onto his foot, and this time the striker brings it down superbly. He has the presence of mind to spread right to Yedlin, whose low first-time cross is cracked home at the near post by Perez. It was sharp and slick all round, that – we’ve now seen two goals that show back-to-front football can be just as pleasing as anything.

Perez celebrates scoring the equaliser.
Perez celebrates scoring the equaliser. Photograph: Scott Heppell/Reuters

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28 min: Now a Newcastle corner as Mustafi stops Gayle, set away by an early Shelvey pass, from causing too much trouble. It’s a good delivery by Kenedy but well defended by, I think, Holding.

27 min: A smart Arsenal move and whipped ball in from Chambers, who has been good at right-back so far, demand an urgent intervention from Lascelles. Corner. It’s put in by Xhaka but somebody at the near post glances it beyond everyone.

25 min: Aubameyang gets far too much space to turn and shoot, but slips, to some mild jeers.

24 min: Newcastle really haven’t threatened since the goal. Arsenal are enjoying the possession now and look broadly in control. Chambers does well to defend a Diame cross ahead of Gayle as a type, mind you.

21 min: Iwobi, found in space after a throw-in by a sharp flick from the excellent Aubameyang, cleverly finds himself enough space to stab a shot at goal but Dubravka is onto it.

19 min: That Aubameyang shot deflected over off Lascelles’ outstretched arm, by the way, replays show. It may well have snicked the ball off target. Seen penalties given for those.

18 min: ... which comes to nothing. Lively stuff here at the moment though.

17 min: Chambers fells Kenedy and Newcastle have a free-kick just beyond the left corner of the Arsenal box. It’s a decent chance to have a stab at equalising ... but Shelvey’s set-piece is neither fish nor fowl and straight at Cech. Straight down the other end and Aubameyang jinks inside, firing over via a deflection. Corner ...

Goal! Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal (Lacazette 14)

They got them the ball then! Mustafi plays a Lejeune-esque 60-yard pass to Aubameyang, who controls brilliantly as he runs through on the inside-left. He drills across goal, weighting it perfectly for Lacazette to arrive and thud home. Arsenal are ahead!

Lacazette scores the opener.
Lacazette scores the opener. Photograph: Scott Heppell/Reuters

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13 min: Mesut Ozil has the afternoon off here and you wonder how that’ll impact on Arsenal’s creativity. All very well having Aubameyang and Lacazette but you need to get them the ball. Newcastle are doing rather better at finding their front men so far, Lejeune with two delightful long switches from back to front already.

9 min: Ritchie makes a diagonal run and pops the ball sharply into Kenedy, who is in form and thus confident enough to spin and crack in 35-yard left footer towards goal. But it won’t bother Cech, who drops onto it easily enough.

7 min: Holding stops Perez breaking through after a Gayle burst put Newcastle on the front foot again. No clear chances yet but plenty of energy and the home side’s tempo is decent.

5 min: Lacazette spins smartly onto an Elneny pass, completely losing Lascelles, but can’t get enough on his shot and drags well wide.

Lacazette holds of Lascelles.
Lacazette holds of Lascelles. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

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3 min: Newcastle keep pushing and win a corner, Mustafi having to head an arrowed Shelvey free-kick behind. It’s worked short and eventually ends up with Shelvey overhitting his cross.

1 min: Good start from Newcastle, forcing a couple of hasty clearances in the Arsenal box.

Peeeeep! They're off!

It’s a glorious afternoon, and Newcastle get these two form horses underway. Arsenal, in blue, kick left to right.

The teams are out in Newcastle ... it’s almost time ...

Wenger on Willock: “In training he does well but the real step is in the competition, you have to produce what you can do. It’s a good opportunity, I had in my head to give him a chance before the end of the season and he gets one today. Most of the time you can see in a player’s first game if he is right at this level.”

By the by, tenth-placed Newcastle have lost four more matches than they’ve won. This is *not* a criticism of them – but it’s not been a very good Premier League this season, has it?

Rafa says: “It will be massive for us to win, a great achievement, but let’s see what happens. I don’t like to talk in this way [to speak of four wins in a row].”

He seems more concerned with staying up, still. They’re safe regarding some staggering twists, to be fair, but a win would make one zillion percent certain.

Wolves – or rather Newly Promoted Wolves – are a goal up at half-time against Definitely Not Newly Promoted Birmingham and you can follow that one with Rob Smyth here:

So the headlines there are that Aubameyang and Lacazette both start for Arsenal – and there is a full Premier League debut for the very talented 18-year-old, Joe Willock. Thursdays night’s hero Danny Welbeck gets a rest.

I’ll let all this sink in for a few minutes – so get your emails in. Newcastle fans, has this season gone better than you might have expected? Arsenal fans, is it simply about Atletico now?

Teams

Newcastle: Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Diame, Shelvey, Kenedy, Perez, Gayle. Subs: Clark, Murphy, Slimani, Hayden, Manquillo, Joselu, Darlow.

Arsenal: Cech, Chambers, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal, Elneny, Xhaka, Iwobi, Willock, Aubameyang, Lacazette. Subs: Mertesacker, Ospina, Welbeck, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, Nelson, Nketiah.

Referee: Anthony Taylor

On Sky they are currently showing highlights of the brilliant, remarkable edition of this fixture in 2011 that of course went from 0-4 to 4-4, topped off by a wonder volley from the late Cheick Tiote. Relive what our man there on the day, Paul Wilson, wrote:

Hello everyone!

Welcome to a match upon which ... nothing very much hangs, really. But let’s not allow that to get in our way ...

For Newcastle it would be very nice to use this game in hand for good and make a serious play for ninth place, perhaps even eighth, and make this an ultimately very satisfying first season back – especially considering the fact Rafa Benitez hasn’t had nearly enough of the transfer market support he wanted. They are on a very nice three-match winning run, their best since August-September, so three points here would make for their best streak of the campaign.

For Arsenal it’s all about getting nice and trim for Atletico Madrid, really, and you’d expect a change or two after that long trip to Russia on Thursday night. But they’re on a very heartening run of their own and it would do no harm to keep it going up on Tyneside even if everything hangs – realistically – on making sure everything is set up properly for a season-defining crack at one of Europe’s elite forces.

So what’s it to be? We’ll find out across the next three hours. Keep the conversation flowing with your emails and tweets – and let’s get the afternoon off to a flier ...

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