After a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United on Monday night, Arsenal moved above Manchester United and north London rivals Tottenham into third place, putting their top-four fate into their own hands as the Premier League season nears its climax.
The Gunners put in another impressive performance at the Emirates to ensure a
record-equalling tenth home win this season; a feat they last achieved in May 1998. Although there were only ten shots throughout the game - the fewest in a Premier League game since 2015 - Arsenal never looked like ceding control from first whistle to last and deservedly claimed all three points.
10 - Only two Premier League games since August 2003 have had fewer shots in total than Arsenal v Newcastle. Shy.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 1, 2019
The manner of victory was perhaps the most impressive aspect of Arsenal's performance,
Mesut Ozil proving to be a key influence in breaking down a stubborn Newcastle defence.
Indeed, Ozil has become a rejuvenated figure in the second half of the campaign after initially struggling to adapt to new manager Unai Emery's demands. Having previously found a place in the Spaniard's starting XI hard to come by, Ozil has now started three of Arsenal's last four Premier League games.
The German's work-rate against the Magpies was evident for all to see, as Ozil made the second most ball recoveries of any player (12), demonstrating that he is willing to work hard off the ball to help Arsenal win games.
Another key factor in Arsenal's favour is their kind run of fixtures heading into the final seven games of the season.
Emery's side do not have another match left to play against the current top six, whilst Manchester United play local rivals City as well as a clash with Chelsea before the end of the campaign. The Blues also face a daunting trip to Anfield at the end of April as well as their match against the Red Devils.
Sceptics may point to Arsenal's questionable away form in 2018/19, as the men from north London play five of their last seven league matches away from home. Although the Gunners have only accumulated 19 points from their 14 Premier League games on the road, they have only lost twice to sides outside the top six on their travels.
It’s Arsenal’s away form that’s trash & Spurs have lost the same amount of away games ???? I hear that still.. Agenda fans make me sick— Keep Consistent (@kordellsmiles) April 2, 2019
Due to their away record being patchy, it may serve Unai Emery best to employ a policy of attempting to outscore their opponents on the road as Alexandre Lacazette and
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have scored 30 league goals between them to date. The pair are building an almost telepathic understanding of another, combining once again for Lacazette's delightful chip against the Magpies.
As we have come to see in his first season at the helm, Emery is not a man who shies away from making bold tactical moves. If Arsenal are to finish in the top four come the season's end, then Emery should use the firepower at his disposal and attempt to blow teams away by starting Lacazette and Aubameyang up front.
Another positive for Emery and his players will be the fact that the Gunners have kept
back-to-back clean sheets in the Premier League for the first time since the end of September. Despite the fact that Shkodran Mustafi still looks as suspect as ever, the likes of Sokratis and Nacho Monreal, the latter in particular, have performed well in recent matches.
Much has been made of Arsenal's defensive frailties but top four rivals Chelsea and Tottenham are hardly looking secure themselves, with Spurs captain Hugo Lloris costing his side what would have been a crucial point at Anfield thanks to an injury-time howler.
Chants of 'Tottenham Hotspur, it's happened again', were ringing around the Emirates after Arsenal's second goal, but whether the Gunners' arch-rivals have blown the chance of finishing in a Champions League place remains to be seen.
What is certain after victory over Newcastle is that, after leapfrogging Spurs in the table, Arsenal's end of season destiny is theirs to decide.