Arsenal 2 Newcastle United 0
Tottenham Hotspur may have just taken possession of a new stadium but the move that interests Arsenal fans was the one that took them above their north London rivals in the Premier League table.
The Gunners’ 2-0 win against Newcastle United on Monday lifts them into third – their highest league position since February 2017 – and they are now two points clear of Spurs with seven matches remaining.
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With Manchester United on the same number of points as Tottenham, and Chelsea only a point behind, the battle to finish in the top four and secure a spot in next season’s Uefa Champions League is going down to the wire.
Gunners look good
But the force looks to be with the Gunners, who in early February trailed Tottenham by ten points, and Monday night’s regulation win over the Magpies was their tenth consecutive home league victory.
“We need to continue being consistent, continue creating a big mentality, learning when we need to struggle and when we need to push together,” said Arsenal boss Unai Emery, when asked what his team must do to ensure they finish in the top four.
“Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester United will win a lot of matches. It’s going to be difficult and the next game at Everton is very difficult.”
Arsenal travel to Goodison Park on Sunday – one of five away fixtures between now and 12 May – but the encouraging aspect for the Arsenal manager is that his key players are running into top form at the right time.
Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette impressed against Newcastle, to the satisfaction of their manager. “I like how every player is playing and Mesut with his quality is helping us and giving us his work,” said Emery. “Also individual moments and skills, he has the capacity to help us.”
Ozil on fire
Ozil was rewarded for his display with the man-of-the-match award, and Emery said of the German: “Mesut is playing like we want, with the system and tactically. He is working a lot and after that work he is also giving us his quality.”
Ozil said he was pleased with his performance, and what it means in the context of the north London rivalry.
“We’re happy that we’re in front of Tottenham,” said the German midfielder. “It’s always a big competition with them. My work is to give everything on the pitch, like today. I only want to help my team-mates to win the game.”
Ramsey put the Gunners ahead on the half-hour mark and Lacazette doubled Arsenal’s advantage late in the second half with a sweet chip.
The hosts could have had more, but Lacazette was denied by a brilliant block from Matt Ritchie and Ramsey had a goal disallowed in the first half after referee Anthony Taylor ruled that Sokratis had fouled Florian Lejeune, although TV replays showed the pair were pulling each other’s shirts as the corner came in.
Keeping it clean
Perhaps the most pleasing aspect for Emery was a third consecutive clean sheet, the first time since December 2017 that Arsenal have strung together such defensive solidity.
“We played very consistent over 90 minutes,” he reflected. “We didn’t concede any chances. We created and dominated the match. We are happy.”
Premier League results, fixtures and TV guide
- Fulham 0 Manchester City 2
- Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Southampton 1
- Burnley 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
- Crystal Palace 2 Huddersfield Town 0
- Leicester City 2 AFC Bournemouth 0
- Manchester United 2 Watford 1
- West Ham United 0 Everton 2
- Cardiff City 1 Chelsea 2
- Liverpool 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
- Arsenal 2 Newcastle United 0
Fixtures Tuesday 2 April
- Watford vs. Fulham (7.45pm)
- Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Manchester United (7.45pm, live on Sky Sports)
Wednesday 3 April
- Chelsea vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (7.45pm)
- Manchester City vs. Cardiff City (7.45pm, live on Sky Sports)
- Tottenham Hotspur vs. Crystal Palace (7.45pm)
Friday 5 April
- Southampton vs. Liverpool (8pm, live on Sky Sports)
Saturday 6 April
- AFC Bournemouth vs. Burnley (3pm)
- Huddersfield Town vs. Leicester City (3pm)
- Newcastle United vs. Crystal Palace (3pm)
Sunday 7 April
- Everton vs. Arsenal (2.05pm, live on Sky Sports)
Monday 8 April
- Chelsea vs. West Ham United (8pm, live on Sky Sports)
FA Cup semi-final fixtures
Saturday 6 April
- Manchester City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (5.30pm, live on BBC One)
Sunday 7 April
- Watford vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers (4pm, live on BT Sport)
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