Emile Smith Rowe’s cameo after coming on from the bench powered Arsenal to a 2-0 triumph over Newcastle United in the FA Cup.

Arsenal kick-started their FA Cup campaign on a positive note by securing a 2-0 win over Newcastle United in the third round at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners were the superior side in this game, notably creating two good opportunities in the first half, one of which was saved by Martin Dubravka. Newcastle, in contrast, struggled to provide any real goalscoring threat as the two sides drew goalless at half-time.

Arsenal tested the Newcastle defence multiple times in the second half and were in total control of the game especially after the introduction of three substitutes. But, they were unable to find the back of the net. The Magpies, on the other hand, could have won the game if Andy Carroll had taken the chance to score the opener, with the match eventually heading into extra time.

It appeared Newcastle United were more than willing to see out the next thirty minutes by defending deep, preventing their opposition from finding that elusive opener.

But, the Gunners were ultimately rewarded for their efforts when Emile Smith Rowe netted his first professional goal for the club in the 109th minute. It was followed by a late strike from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, effectively sealing the three points for Mikel Arteta’s side. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Arsenal following their FA Cup triumph over Newcastle.

Bernd Leno: 7/10

Bernd Leno had a relatively quiet game as Newcastle United were only able to muster two shots on target. However, it was his heroic second-half save to deny Carroll followed by a fearless dive to claim the ball that kept his side in the contest. Did not have much to do after that, but deserves a lot of credit for his bravery.

Cedric Soares: 5/10

Arteta’s decision to start with Cedric did not pay off at all. The right-back evidently lacked the quality to settle in the Arsenal side, often struggling in failing to provide the offensive support for Nicolas Pepe. In addition, he was the one who played Carroll onside for that excellent Newcastle chance in the second half and one could argue that Ainsley Maitland-Niles should have been given the nod ahead.

David Luiz: 7.5/10

David Luiz enjoyed a decent runout upon his return to the starting eleven. The veteran centre-back was particularly impressive in regards to his passing, notably creating an excellent opportunity for Aubameyang in the first half. His defensive game was impressive as well, so it will be interesting to see whether Arteta persists with Luiz in the next game.

Pablo Mari: 7/10

Pablo Mari had a decent game dealing with the Newcastle United attackers. The in-form centre-back offered the technical quality in Arsenal’s build-up from the back. Mari’s ability to read the game was also crucial in denying the opposition from creating many chances going forward, though he was not as impressive as Luiz.

Kieran Tierney: 8/10

It was yet another fantastic display from Kieran Tierney, who was a menace for the opposition on the left flank. Indeed, the Scot moved up and down the pitch, providing the offensive support for his team. His ability to whip in crosses into the box also kept the Newcastle defenders on their toes, with the left-back eventually registering an assist for the late Aubameyang goal. One of the best performers in this game.

Mohamed Elneny: 6/10

Mohamed Elneny acted in the deepest midfield role in midfield for Arsenal. He was tasked with the responsibility of keeping things neat and tidy in the middle of the park and did not disappoint for the most part, but he also struggled to provide that cutting edge one can usually expect from a deep-lying midfielder.

Joe Willock: 5/10

Joe Willock had an excellent opportunity to score a goal in the second half, but his headed effort was saved by Dubravka. It also happened to be his only contribution in the game, as the midfielder failed to offer any sort of creativity whatsoever. He is certainly not quality enough to shine at the highest level of football, and it was reflected in his poor performance against another top-flight opposition.

Nicolas Pepe: 5/10

Nicolas Pepe was quiet for the most part in the game. Despite his quick feet, he failed to provide any sort of penetration and created only one telling chance when his cross towards Willock forced Dubravka into making a good save. It was not enough to make a difference, with the Gunners ultimately relying on the substitutes.

Willian: 4/10

Arteta’s interesting decision to deploy Willian in a central role did not pay off either. The veteran attacker wallowed around the final third as he usually does, failing to provide any real craft or guile to make things happen. He was rightfully taken off midway through the second half, in favour of Bukayo Saka.

Reiss Nelson: 5/10

Reiss Nelson had a rare opportunity in the starting eleven following Gabriel Martinelli’s unfortunate injury in training. The Englishman, however, failed to make the most out of it as he provided very little threat going forward. He was replaced just before the hour-mark by Emile Smith Rowe.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 7.5/10

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was surprisingly given the nod ahead of Alexandre Lacazette in the number nine position for Arsenal. The Gabonese international played rather well, using his pace and positional sense to keep the Newcastle defence on their toes. He also forced an excellent save from Dubravka in the first half before eventually scoring a late goal to seal all three points for his side.


Emile Smith Rowe: 8.5/10

Smith Rowe was introduced in the second half by Arteta in an effort to add more creativity in the final third. The youngster unsurprisingly made a difference, using his smart movements to bamboozle the Newcastle defenders. Although he may have been sent off had it not been for VAR, he made the most out of the setback by scoring his first senior goal for the club – one that ultimately proved to be the winner.

Bukayo Saka: 7.5/10

Another player who made a huge difference to the game, Bukayo Saka offered more creativity and danger to the Newcastle defence after replacing Willian midway through the second half. The Englishman created quite a few chances and his link-up play with his teammates was particularly impressive.

Granit Xhaka: 8/10

Granit Xhaka changed the complexion of this game after coming on in the second half. The Swiss international was a domineering figure in midfield, providing composure and solidity in the middle of the park. His confidence was also high and it was evident in his passing and shooting from distance, with the former Borussia Monchengladbach star notably forcing a good save from Dubravka.

Alexandre Lacazette: 7.5/10

Alexandre Lacazette was introduced at the start of the second half of extra time. And the in-form Arsenal striker immediately made a difference by using his physicality to hold off the Newcastle defenders, opening up Smith Rowe for the opener.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles: N/A

A late replacement for Cedric – a move that should have been made at the start of the game. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

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