Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez said his side “need something in January” after they dropped into the relegation zone with a fourth straight defeat at Arsenal. The Magpies have lost eight of their last nine Premier League games, gaining just one point from a 2-2 draw at West Brom. They rose to as high as fourth earlier in the season, and were in sixth place after beating Crystal Palace on 21 October, their last win to date. “We’ll try to bring in some additions that will bring a lift to the team,” said Benitez. Mesut Ozil’s brilliant volleyed goal in the first half was enough for Arsene Wenger’s side, who dominated until Newcastle rallied late in the game.
Newcastle are reported to be the subject of a £300m takeover bid by PCP Partners, with club owner Mike Ashley said to have recently met with PCP’s owner Amanda Staveley. Ainsley Maitland-Niles hit the side-netting for Arsenal before the break, but Newcastle only came to life in the latter stages, with Ayoze Perez failing to take advantage of two rare chances when he put a shot and then a header over the bar. The result puts Arsenal into fourth place while Newcastle have now claimed just one point from the last 27. Jack Wilshere came closest to giving Arsenal breathing space late on when he saw his side-footed shot saved by the recalled Rob Elliot in the Newcastle goal.
It was Newcastle’s 10th straight Premier League defeat to Arsenal and they are now without a league win since 21 October when they beat Crystal Palace 1-0. Seventh in the table at kick-off and without a win in three matches is not the sort of run-in to the busy festive schedule that Arsenal are accustomed to. And hamstring and groin injuries to Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott respectively also gave Wenger much to ponder in the lead-up to the meeting with Newcastle. They looked slick for much of the afternoon and threatened around the edge of Newcastle’s area on a regular basis, but the lack of the killer instinct in front of goal led to some edginess as the match wore on.
Ozil’s moment of magic was the one real ray of light on a grey afternoon, the Germany international showing impeccable technique and balance to strike the ball beyond a helpless Elliot after Newcastle failed to clear. With Liverpool the next league visitors to the Emirates, Arsenal will be thankful for the split second of brilliance that helped to end a worrying dip in results.