Granit Xhaka celebrates after scoring Arsenal’s first goal against Newcastle United. (AP Photo)
Arsenal defeated Newcastle 2-1 on Saturday to record successive away English Premier League victories for the first time in more than a year. Granit Xhaka scored from a long-range free kick and helped to set up Mesut Ozil for Arsenal’s second before a late Ciaran Clark header ensured a nervous finish.
After losing his first two matches in charge of the club, Unai Emery has guided Arsenal to three consecutive victories. Arsenal’s first consecutive away league wins since May 2017 indicate progress is being made under Emery, who replaced Arsene Wenger after last season.
After a dull opening half, it required a moment of brilliance from the often-maligned Xhaka to give Arsenal the lead. The Switzerland midfielder curled a 25-yard free kick into the top corner.
Xhaka was heavily involved again as Ozil doubled the lead nine minutes later. The central midfielder found himself in space on the left flank and cut the ball back for Alexander Lacazette, whose blocked shot fell for Ozil to side-foot home from the edge of the box.
Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka got a hand to Ozil’s rather tame effort, as he had done to Xhaka’s free kick, and will feel he could have prevented the second, if not both of Arsenal’s goals.
Newcastle, which is still looking for a first win, kept going until the end and scored a consolation as Clark headed in a stoppage-time goal. By that point, a large number of the disappointed St James’ Park crowd had already departed.
Although Rafael Benitez’s side has picked up just one point from its first five games, all four of its defeats have come against members of the league’s ‘big six’.