Mesut Ozil fires Arsenal to victory over Newcastle
Arsenal returned to winning ways but had Mesut Ozil to thank for scoring a wonderful winner as they toiled against out-of-form Newcastle.
Having taken just two points from their last three games, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger could not have wished for a better game in which to register a first Premier League win of the month.
But the performance in a tight 1-0 victory over the Magpies was met with incredulity from pockets of the home fans, with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and the recalled Alexandre Lacazette struggling to make an impact once again.
Newcastle are without a league victory since October 21 and their slide into the relegation battle continued despite a determined showing here, with profligate finishing their main issue.
Lacazette came back into the Arsenal side as Wenger made just one alteration from the midweek stalemate at West Ham.
The club-record signing saw an early shot deflected into the path of Hector Bellerin, whose own drive was blocked and went behind for a corner.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles surprisingly kept his place at left-back as Sead Kolasinac was only named among the Arsenal substitutes.
The youngster almost opened the scoring following a jinking run into the Newcastle half but his shot was just the wrong side of a post.
The opener came at the midway point of the first half. Sanchez's strike was blocked by DeAndre Yedlin with the headed clearance then dropping to Ozil, whose controlled volley was weighted perfectly to beat Rob Elliot in the Newcastle goal.
He came close to adding a second soon after, while Granit Xhaka and Sanchez both flashed low efforts wide as the hosts enjoyed domination without being able to build on their lead before the interval.
Elliot showed superb reactions to push the ball away from the toe of Alex Iwobi at the start of the second half before substitute Matt Ritchie blazed over when well placed.
Rafael Benitez's side were starting to enjoy rare forays forward and Jacob Murphy forced Petr Cech into a low save soon after.
Wenger reacted by introducing Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud from the bench, the latter involved immediately as he nodded down a cross to Jack Wilshere, whose effort was too close to Elliot.
Joselu saw a shot deflect off Xhaka and screw just wide with Cech completely wrong-footed as the home fans began to voice their dissatisfaction with the display of their side.
Despite their protestations, Arsenal saw out the game to record their 10th consecutive Premier League win over Newcastle, moving back into the top four in the process.