Arsenal, in the end, ran out comfortable 3-0 winners against Newcastle on Monday to extend their Premier League unbeaten run to five matches, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbing a brace.
The first half went by without much excitement, although Mikel Arteta‘s side could easily have gone into the break with their noses in front had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tucked away one of two good opportunities presented to him.
He made no mistake early in the second half as Thomas Partey broke the opposition press to then loft a ball through for him to fire home, before Hale End combined once again to see Bukayo Saka sweep home and put the game beyond doubt.
There was still time for a third as the impressive Cedric Soares laid the ball on a plate for the captain to notch his second of the evening, with Arsenal seeing out the game in total comfort from thereon in.
A vital win given the daunting set of fixtures coming up, here is what we learned from Monday’s victory.
Emile Smith Rowe Needs Wrapping in Cotton Wool
It’s hard not to wonder, is it? Where would Arsenal be if they’d have played with a No. 10 from the start of the season?
Regarding Emile Smith Rowe specifically, injuries hampered his beginning to the campaign and the belief that the new blood would provide the necessary spark in that area pushed his introduction back. With Willian joining it was felt that Arsenal had someone who could inject some creativity across the forward line and not just centrally, a vision that went hazy shortly after the opening day.
In the eyes of the manager the door hadn’t slammed shut on being creative in a flat 4-3-3 with three very similar central midfielders, while from the supporters’ point of view it became apparent very early on.
There is no point crying over spilled milk – or milk that wasn’t allowed to be spilled in the first place – and instead everything within Arsenal’s power must be done to protect Smith Rowe. Fortunately he earned some respite by not playing the full 90 minutes on Monday, while he’s also expected to get a rest in the FA Cup fourth round. But more is needed.
Whether that is a loan signing to ease the strain of playing in three competitions or setting out a plan based on the fixture schedule to manage his fitness, it’s evident how vital he now is.