Arsenal's dominant win over Newcastle was perfect preparation for Villarreal clash, says Arteta

By Sports Desk May 02, 2021

Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal's dominant 2-0 win over Newcastle United was the perfect preparation for Thursday's Europa League semi-final second leg against Villarreal.

The Gunners suffered a 2-1 defeat in the first leg in Spain on Thursday, but they returned to winning ways against Steve Bruce's side at St James' Park.

Mohamed Elneny's first Premier League goal in his 66th appearance in the competition got them on their way after just five minutes, before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed a sixth consecutive win against the Magpies without conceding a goal.

Aubameyang's second-half goal meant he became the first Arsenal player to score in five consecutive matches against an opponent since Olivier Giroud netted in six straight games against Aston Villa between 2013 and 2016.

The only blot on the Gunners' copybook was a hamstring injury to David Luiz, which could keep the Brazilian out for the remainder of the season.

Arteta made nine changes to the side that lost in Spain and was pleased with his side's dominance, the Gunners taking 19 shots and restricting the hosts to just a single shot on target.

"Apart from David's injury, that was all we wanted," Arteta told a media conference.

"We wanted to keep the team fresh and pick players with the right attitude to play this game. The focus was on today. It was a strong performance from the beginning.

"We dominated the game and won the three points, which we needed. It helps for Thursday as well."

Aubameyang has now scored in all three of his appearances against Newcastle this season, becoming the first Arsenal player to score in three separate matches against an opponent in a single season since Alexis Sanchez against Hull City in 2014-15.

The Gabon international, who was recently struck down with malaria, came off the bench for the final five minutes against Villarreal in Spain and proved his fitness with an impressive display on Sunday.

"We thought he wasn't going to manage it on Thursday. Two days before, he was struggling," Arteta explained. "He could only manage to play 10 or 15 minutes.

"The day after, he started to feel better. It's good to see he was fine today. He scored a goal, he played well, so it's a real boost."

Gabriel Martinelli enjoyed an eventful game, laying on Aubameyang's goal with a fine cross and drawing a foul from Fabian Schar in the 90th minute which resulted in a red card for the Newcastle defender.

"Gabi's improving every week," Arteta said. "He's taking his minutes in the right way.

"He's developing in the way we all believe he can. Today he had an assist, some good moments on the left and we're trying to play him as a number nine as well."

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    The Magpies confirmed a fan was stabilised and taken to hospital after a medical emergency temporarily halted play in the game at St James' Park.

    Players were alerted to an incident in the ground's East Stand shortly before the 40th minute, with Spurs full-back Reguilon quickly alerting referee Andre Marriner.

    Eric Dier and Oliver Skipp went over to the dugout to request medical assistance and a team doctor with a defibrillator ran across the playing surface, with Marriner pausing play and instructing the players to leave the pitch.

    Marriner was then seen discussing the situation with a steward and a police officer before the players headed into the changing rooms as the fan continued to receive treatment before later being taken from the stadium.

    Both sides later returned to the pitch to play out the rest of the first half, with Spurs going on to seal a 3-2 victory.

    Reguilon, who was widely praised for his swift reaction, said the win mattered little after such a worrying incident.

    "I think three points is always a moment of happiness but, for me, what's more important is the guy, they are telling me he is okay and stable," he told Match of the Day.

    "I saw the fans waving and I saw a guy lying down. I saw something wrong had happened. I looked at the referee and he stopped the match. I think now everything is okay and 100 per cent happiness.

    "It was very strange, we went to the dressing room and I was looking at the man lying down, I was nervous because I don't like to watch that."

    Harry Kane, whose first Premier League goal of the campaign put Spurs 2-1 ahead, echoed Reguilon's sentiments and sent his best wishes to the supporter.

    "Firstly, we want to say best wishes to the guy in the stands, it was not a good sight to see," he told Sky Sports. "We hear that he might be stable now, so we're thankful to the medical teams and the fans who were doing the CPR.

    "Hopefully he's okay and we wish him all the best from all the players at Tottenham."

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    "The game itself didn't start great, we knew they were going to come out fast and they got their early goal," Kane added. "After that, we composed ourselves really well, created some good chances.

    "The only disappointment is that we should have seen the game out, got the fourth, the fifth. We made it a bit more difficult at the end there."

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    Newcastle United's new era started with a familiar feeling of disappointment as Tottenham ran out 3-2 winners at St James' Park, with Sunday's match marred by a medical emergency in the stands.

    With the pre-match build up dominated by Newcastle's off-field changes, the club's new PIF owners were served up a stark reminder of the issues on the pitch as Steve Bruce's 1000th game as a manager ended in defeat.

    Callum Wilson's second-minute header buoyed an already rampant home crowd, but Tottenham hit back through Tanguy Ndombele before Harry Kane scored his first Premier League goal of the season.

    A fan was taken to hospital after an incident late in the first half, which led to a defibrillator being called for and the suspension of play. When it restarted, Kane turned provider for Son Heung-min.

    Jonjo Shelvey's red card seemed to erase any Newcastle hopes, only for Eric Dier's late own goal to worry Spurs, but it was ultimately not enough to inspire a comeback.

    Newcastle's pre-match elation swiftly carried onto the pitch. Only one minute and 47 seconds had passed when Wilson got ahead of his marker to head in Javier Manquillo's cross.

    Yet a blistering following 10 minutes failed to produce another Newcastle goal and, after Lucas Moura fired a warning shot, Spurs drew level through Ndombele's superb, curling strike into the right-hand side of the goal.

    Spurs' turnaround was complete five minutes later as Kane darted onto Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's lofted pass and finished deftly over Darlow. The goal was initially disallowed for offside, but VAR spotted Manquillo's failure to step up in time.

    Lucas rattled the woodwork as Spurs searched for a third, though play was then suspended due to a medical emergency in the crowd.

    Spurs picked up where they left off following a long delay – Kane squaring for Son to make it 3-1.

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    However, talk of mega-money deals for global superstars must now make way for the bleak reality Newcastle face. They sit 19th, without a win to their name and only a point above Norwich City. It may be early in the campaign, but the focus come January has to be retaining the club's Premier League status. 

    Harry gets off the mark at his happy hunting ground

    Kane's misfortunes have become a major talking point in recent weeks, with last season's golden boot winner far from his best since his failed move to Manchester City.

    But he finally opened his league account for the campaign on Sunday, before then combining with his partner in crime Son. Six of Kane's seven top-flight goals for Spurs against Newcastle have come at St James' Park. He has only scored more away goals against Leicester City and Everton.

    Time up for Bruce?

    Bruce hit out at the media in his pre-match news conference, after numerous stories of his impending dismissal proved to be untrue. Yet on his milestone game as a manager, Bruce's deficiencies were there for all to see. Newcastle started brilliantly, but in the final 10 minutes, a chorus of "sacked in the morning" echoed around the stadium. It was not exactly clear which sets of supporters were responsible.

    His record stands at W376, D254, L370, while Bruce has won just four of his 27 encounters with Spurs in all competitions, and the speculation over his future seems set to continue as Newcastle's new owners assess the state of play.

    What's next?

    Newcastle face another London team in the form of an away game at Crystal Palace next Saturday, while Spurs travel to the Netherlands to play Vitesse in the Europa Conference League on Thursday.

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