ARSENAL eased to a comfortable 2-0 win over Newcastle following goals from Mohamed Elneny and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Mikel Arteta's men were much changed from midweek with many stars given one last chance to impress before Thursday's second-leg.
Here's how SunSport's Joe Brophy rated the Gunners.
Mat Ryan – 6
The Australian was once again deputising for Bernd Leno with the Europa League second-leg very much in Arteta's thinking.
Ryan was rarely tested on his way to a rare clean sheet for the Gunners and was accomplished enough when occasionally called upon.
Hector Bellerin – 6
Both parts of the Spaniard's game were highlighted on Tyneside as his forward runs and crosses were a big part of Arsenal's attack.
But positionally Bellerin was often guilty of drifting inside and losing his man yet a toothless Newcastle saw him go unpunished.
David Luiz – 7
Proved why he was brought in as it was his long-ranged pass out to Bellerin that led to Arsenal's first.
Perhaps the only centre-back at the club capable of playing such a ball but it was one of those searching passes after the break that caused his injury.
Big blow for Mikel Arteta heading into the business end of the season.
Gabriel – 7
Looked very comfortable alongside compatriot David Luiz and rose to the challenge of stepping up as his partner went off injured.
Kept things tight at the back and could have got on the scoresheet at the other end but sent a second-half header over the bar.
Granit Xhaka – 5
Arsenal fans will be desperate for Kieran Tierney to return on Thursday as their makeshift replacement struggled once again in his unfavoured role.
Xhaka was booked early for a rash challenge on Allan Saint-Maximin and could have received his marching orders when he blocked Sean Longstaff.
Should have been tested more but escaped further retribution and will be hoping to return to midfield with Ceballos missing on Thursday.
Mohamed Elneny – 8
He waited 66 games to get his first Premier League goal and then almost grabbed a double.
Took his inaugural strike with aplomb with a well-hit effort into the bottom corner before he later had a header cleared off the line.
Dani Ceballos – 6
Bounced back from a Thursday night horror show with a more assured outing.
Benefits from playing next to a midfield partner as disciplined as Elneny and was able to show flashes of quality as Arsenal controlled the game.
Willian – 4
Just hasn't happened yet for the Brazilian in his debut campaign since swapping Chelsea for their London rivals.
Largely poor delivery bar one second-half cross and certainly not the performance needed to change Arteta's thinking for Villarreal.
Martin Odegaard – 5
Another quiet performance from the Norwegian, who is yet to return to the form he showed before he suffered an injury on international duty.
Several nice touches were a reminder of Odegaard's undoubted quality but thankfully Arsenal unlocked Newcastle's defence without relying on him.
Gabriel Martinelli – 9
Vindicated the many passionate fans calling for the Brazilian to start as he had Jacob Murphy on toast all afternoon.
Unfortunate to have got an assist from one of the several inviting pull-backs he delivered in the first-half but was finally rewarded after the restart.
Fantastic cross gave Aubameyang the easiest of finishes to settle Arsenal's nerves when Newcastle had began to gain momentum.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 7
Bailed out by Elneny when he snatched at Bellerin's early cross and was on the periphery for much of the first half as he continues to build fitness.
Still exhibited clever movement in the box throughout and got his reward with an acrobatic tap-in from Martinelli's cross.
CASINO SIGN UP OFFER: CLAIM UP TO £800 IN CASINO BONUS CASH
Calum Chambers (For David Luiz) – 6
Nicolas Pepe (For Aubameyang) – 5
Thomas Partey (For Odegaard) – N/A
Source: Read Full Article