Aubameyang strike hands Gunners winning start, The 30-year-old, who shared the Golden Boot last season with Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, opened his account for 2019/20 in the 58th minute, bringing down Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ cross before lifting the ball over Martin Dubravka.
It proved to be the crucial strike as the Gunners, who handed Premier League debuts to new signings Nicolas Pepe, Dani Ceballos and Gabriel Martinelli from the bench, ensured Steve Bruce’s reign as Newcastle head coach began with defeat.
The game was played out in front of a crowd of 47,635 – almost 5,000 below capacity – as some Newcastle fans staged a boycott over owner Mike Ashley’s running of the club, but those that were in the ground roared with approval as new boy Joelinton rose highest in the Arsenal penalty area before glancing the ball wide of Bernd Leno’s far post.
Newcastle: Dubravka (7), Manquillo (6), Schar (6), Lascelles (7), Dummett (7), Ritchie (6), Shelvey (6), Hayden (6), Longstaff (6), Almiron (7), Joelinton (7).
Subs: Willems (5), Saint-Maximin (6)
Arsenal: Leno (8), Maitland-Niles (8), Chambers (7), Sokratis (7), Monreal (7), Guendouzi (7), Xhaka (7), Willock (6), Mkhitaryan (6), Nelson (6), Aubameyang (7).
Subs: Ceballos (6), Pepe (6), Martinelli (6).
Man of the match: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Jonjo Shelvey had the home fans off their seats again moments later as Leno touched his powerful drive onto the post, but it was Arsenal who created the chance of the first half.
Nacho Monreal latched onto Granit Xhaka’s long pass before laying the ball off to Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who lashed the ball high over Dubravka’s crossbar.
Dubravka was eventually called into action when Mkhitaryan’s pass released Aubameyang, who was denied by the Slovakian goalkeeper at his near post.
The visitors almost forced the breakthrough in the second-half when Xhaka picked out the run of Aubameyang but Paul Dummett got across well to block the striker’s 52nd-minute effort.
Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce handed record signing Joelinton a competitive debut in his first Premier League game at the helm against Arsenal.
The £40m Brazilian striker was included in the starting line-up with fellow new arrivals Emil Krafth, Jetro Willems and Allan Saint-Maximin named among the substitutes.
Arsenal new boys David Luiz, Dani Ceballos, Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli all started on the bench, as did frontman Alexandre Lacazette with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang asked to lead the line.
However, Aubameyang was not to be denied for long and he fired his side into the lead six minutes later when Maitland-Niles intercepted Dummett’s attempted pass to substitute Jetro Williams and then crossed for Aubameyang, who controlled before lifting the ball over the advancing Dubravka.
Bruce sent on new signing Allan Saint-Maximin as Newcastle went in search of an equaliser and the Frenchman forced Leno into a late save, but ultimately the hosts could not find a way through the Gunners defence.
Man of the match – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
The Gunners relied heavily on Aubameyang last season and he picked up where he left off as the Gabon international fired Arsenal to victory.
He was at his ruthless best at St James’ Park and in his 50th appearance in the Premier League, he netted his 33rd goal in the competition. The only players to have scored more than him through their first 50 appearances are Alan Shearer (41), Andrew Cole (41), Mohamed Salah (35) and Kevin Phillips (34).
Since making his Premier League debut for Arsenal in February 2018, only Liverpool forward Salah (36) has scored more goals in the competition than Aubameyang (33).
The Gunners, who had Alexandre Lacazette and new club-record signing Pepe sitting on the bench, will be hoping the goals continue to fly in for the 30-year-old.
The mark of a very good striker’
Sky Sports‘ Graeme Souness on Aubameyang:
“Aubameyang made that finish look very easy. He made a difficult finish look easy, which is the mark of a very good striker.” Arsenal will score a lot of goals. Other than their strike force, the rest of the team is good to average.”
Steve Bruce: “We were okay first half and unfortunately against a good team we’ve gifted them a goal, which is never easy to recover from. We left ourselves a bit exposed then but overall, I was pleased because there wasn’t anything in it. I can’t remember playing against Arsenal and the goalkeeper has had so little to do but unfortunately, we’ve made a mistake which has cost us.
“We had little half chances where you need it to fall in the box for you and we stuck at it. The players couldn’t give us anything else, they were terrific until the very end. I’m just disappointed we’ve conceded a bad goal and they are rightly disappointed in the dressing room.”
Unai Emery: “It’s a very good three points. We played a very solid game and controlled the game, but we can improve more because, in the first half, for example, we lost a few balls in the middle and gifted them some chances.
“The second half was quite similar but we scored and that was very important victory for our confidence because we played with some young players to give them a chance to improve. I want a big competitive squad for every match, and I think we are going to need that.”
- Arsenal won and kept a clean sheet in their opening game of a Premier League season for the first time since 2008-09 (1-0 against West Brom). This clean sheet also equals their tally away from home for the entire 2018-19 Premier League season (one).
- Newcastle manager Steve Bruce suffered defeat in his first game at a new club for the first time since December 2001, when he began his Birmingham City reign with a 2-1 defeat to Wolves in the second tier.
- Since making his Premier League debut for Arsenal in February 2018, only Mohamed Salah (36) has scored more goals in the competition than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (33).
Arsenal now host Burnley on Saturday at 12.30pm, while Newcastle go to Norwich at 3pm, also on Saturday.