Rafa won’t hit panic button as Toon slide into Gullit territory
home defence for the first time. But instead of squaring the ball to the unmarked Aubameyang, he shot over.
Earlier, there were ironic cheers when Cech fluffed a clearance, slicing a back-pass from Shkodran Mustafi out for a corner. But the veteran keeper had little to do before the break.
However Newcastle did have moments of their own.
Lascelles, under the gaze of
England coach Gareth
Southgate, had a powerful header cleared.
But he was then forced off with a twisted ankle at half-time.
And when Mustafi slipped as a long up-and-under dropped Jacob Murphy was away until Sokratis rescued his team-mate with a fine saving tackle.
But once Xhaka’s 30-yard free-kick flew home past keeper Martin Dubravka, the die was cast with Newcastle lacking both the quality and the confidence to hit back – until it was too late. The Swiss star turned provider for Arsenal’s second with a pull-back into the path of Lacazette. Though his snap-shot was brilliantly blocked by Fernandez it came out to Ozil who side-footed the ball gratefully into the net. RAFA BENITEZ has urged the Toon Army not to panic despite Newcastle equalling their worst start in Premier League history.
Not since Ruud Gullit’s disastrous spell as manager 19 years ago have the Geordies picked up just one point from their opening five league games.
The Dutchman was sacked in September 1999 but Benitez is convinced better times lie ahead for his side. Newcastle were handed the fixture list from hell with four of their opening five games against the elite – Arsenal followed in the footsteps of Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City, winning by the same 2-1 scoreline. And Benitez believes the quality of opposition has been behind the Toon’s nightmare start.
He said: “It’s a difficult time because you have to win games.
“We were not expected to win against the top sides but each time we lost by a small margin.
“I’m not concerned. I know my team.
“I think the fans can see the picture.
“To lose in this match is something everyone could expect but still we are not happy with that for sure. “It’s something we have to manage now and keep the confidence and keep working.” Hundreds of fans gathered outside the Sports Direct-run club shop at St James’ Park before kick-off to protest against Mike Ashley.
They remain right behind Benitez, who admits he has to concentrate on hauling his side out of the relegation zone
“To be fair, I’m more concerned about the margin we have seen against the top sides than losing these games,” he added. “Arsenal had two shots on target and they scored two goals. That is the difference in the end.”