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Arsenal bounce back impressively with Nuno Tavares and Sambi Lokonga much improved in win over Newcastle

·3 min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta wanted a reaction from his Arsenal side after losing to Liverpool last week and, in the end, he got it.

After the first 45 minutes here at Emirates Stadium against Newcastle, you were to beginning to wonder if he would - as Arsenal looked slightly off the pace and the visitors sat deep to frustrate them.

Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also somehow hit the post from three yards out and Newcastle may have been thinking this was the day they’d finally get their first win of the season.

Arsenal, however, went through the gears in the second-half as Arteta got the reaction from that Anfield defeat that he was craving.

And, fittingly, at the heart of it were Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares, two players who really struggled during that loss to Liverpool.

That evening, Lokonga’s passing radar crashed so badly that Arteta ended up hooking him eight minutes into the second-half. Nuno struggled too, gifting Liverpool’s second goal by passing the ball straight to Diogo Jota.

Arteta could have justifiably dropped the pair for this visit of Newcastle, especially as he has Kieran Tierney waiting in the wings, but he stuck by both and was rewarded.

Lokonga was excellent in the middle of the park, displaying the kind of passing that has seen him become a full Belgium international this season. He was Arsenal’s standout player in the first-half, with his lovely disguise pass starting the move which led to Aubameyang’s big miss.

Nuno struggled in the first-half, with his decision-making in the final third reminding us that he is still young. After the break, though, he was reborn, playing in Bukayo Saka for Arsenal’s opening goal in the 56th minute.

His pace never dropped either and Newcastle right-back Emil Krafth will be glad to see the back of him.

Martinelli cameo comes at perfect time

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Gabriel Martinelli has struggled for minutes this season, but he well and truly took his chance against Newcastle.

The Brazilian came on with around 25 minutes to go after Saka was forced off due to injury.

Martinelli was a threat from the off, pressing Newcastle’s back-four and hunting the ball back as quick as he could. His movement was sharp and gave Arsenal a real threat in behind as they looked to kill the game.

The forward’s fine work was rewarded in the end as Takehiro Tomiyasu played him in to score with 24 minutes to go.

It was an excellent finish too, with Martinelli volleying the ball home first time after the ball had been dinked through to him.

Arsenal, like all clubs, have a busy period coming up and Martinelli could have a vital role to play. He has certainly done his chances of more minutes no harm.

Saka injury only dampener on easy afternoon

 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

There were not many negatives to come from this routine win for Arsenal, but a possible injury to Saka certainly took the gloss off.

Frustratingly, the winger had one of his best games for a while, with his play out wide looking sharp and lively.

He took his goal very well too and it may have been then when he picked up his injury, with a quad issue seemingly hampering him.

Arsenal will hope it is nothing serious ahead of a trip to Manchester United on Thursday.

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