Arsenal sentenced Eddie Howe to a miserable start in the Newcastle dugout canoe by beating his Magpies 2-0 at the Emirates.
Second-half goals from Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli allowed Mikel Arteta’s men to fend off last week’s pounding at Liverpool, despite a horrific miss from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Howe oversaw Newcastle’s 3-3 draw with Brentford from a hotel room after testing positive for COVID-19, but his presence today was not enough to inspire another result.
The Toons remain winless and five points behind, having played one more game than their rivals, and their wealthy new owners still face the very real prospect of the championship football next season.
Howe’s men were in the game until the 56th minute and Jonjo Shelvey forced a superb save from Aaron Ramsdale, which tipped the midfielder’s effort to the crossbar.
But the Gunners should have been ahead at the break when Aubameyang was presented with an open goal from four yards.
The Arsenal captain kind of hit the post – leaving Dean Ashton stunned on talkSPORT.
He said, “Four meters away, Aubamayeng, no excuse! He just has to put it aside.
“It’s one of the failures of the season.
“He’s too laid back. If you asked him to do it in training, he would do it so easily.
Luckily for the forward, his teammates were on hand to spare his blush, and Arsenal crossed the line with two beautifully crafted goals.
Saka scored the first after a good building game from Emile Smith Rowe and Nuno Tavares on the left.
Ashton said: “Bamboozling the Newcastle defense – and he’s not followed by Emile Krafth.
“Once he came in there was no complexity, he just whipped him against the goalie and didn’t give him a chance.
“A nice gesture from the young Arsenal strikers. It was a wonderful finish from Saka.
Saka was forced to a halt due to injury and his replacement – Martinelli – doubled the lead with a superb volley for the first time. although questions are being put to Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Ashton added, “Dubravka, you’re just in the wrong position! You anticipated too late!
“How does Martinelli do this on the fly?” Tomiyasu cut it over and the goalie has to come out, but he hesitates.
“Martinelli at six yards – yes six – is cleared for a free volley and it’s a wonderful finish, I have to say.”
The victory puts Arsenal in fifth place, tied on points with fourth-placed West Ham, who will surrender to champions Manchester City tomorrow.