Sun 25 Feb 2024, 11:59 · Ash Harrison

Arsenal (A) player ratings: Joe Willock the only bright spot on a grim night for Eddie Howe and Newcastle United

Arsenal (A) player ratings: Joe Willock the only bright spot on a grim night for Eddie Howe and Newcastle United
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Newcastle United were well and truly routed by Arsenal on Saturday evening at The Emirates Stadium, with the Gunners running out fully deserved 4-1 winners in a one-sided contest.

Eddie Howe resisted the temptation to move to a five-man defence against Mikel Arteta's rampant side. He was likely ruing that decision at approximately 8.24 p.m. with his side already 2-0 down, though.

The fact the visiting Magpies made it into the break at that scoreline was a minor miracle in itself, with the head coach indebted to his third-choice goalkeeper Loris Karius for some fine shot-stopping.

Things improved after the break—largely due to Arsenal relaxing their approach if we're being brutally honest—but we still found ourselves 4-0 behind by the 70th minute due to some woeful defending.

Sven Botman was horrendous for the second successive game, eventually being hooked for Jamaal Lascelles, with only Karius and Bruno Guimarães of the starters emerging with any credit.

The substitutes fared far better, thankfully, with a welcome goalscoring return for Joe Willock against his boyhood club and one of the assists of the season so far from the dropped Dan Burn.

Here are our full ratings, but reader be warned, it's not going to be pretty!

Arsenal came out firing and we just couldn't cope with their press

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The first half in particular was difficult viewing, with the Gunners swarming all over us

Loris Karius – 6

A year after making his Newcastle debut in the Carabao Cup Final defeat to Manchester United, Karius was making only his second competitive appearance due to Martin Dúbravka's illness. He didn't do badly at all despite conceding four; making some really good saves.

Kieran Trippier (c) – 4

He was partly to blame for two of Arsenal's goals, being caught sleeping twice for Arsenal's second and then losing Kiwior on the run from the corner for their fourth. These two lapses aside he was probably our best defender, though, and had a tough task against Martinelli.

Fabian Schär – 4

We're not sure how he failed to block Saka's shot for Arsenal's third, but that was the only goal where the finger of blame could be pointed at him, as he'd also lost Rice in the build-up too. He wasn't great otherwise, though, having a really tough time up against Havertz.

Sven Botman – 2

It's tough to cover Sven's catalogue of errors in a few lines, but we'll do our best. He lost Gabriel for the opener then scored an own-goal, failed to deal with Jorginho's ball over the top for the second, and then lost Havertz for a huge chance after the break. To top off a nightmare evening, he gave the ball away shockingly for the third and then let Saka's shot straight through him. He was truly abysmal and rightly brought off for Lascelles.

Tino Livramento – 5

Although he was turned inside out by the electric Saka for Arsenal's third goal, he'd done fairly well against him up to that point. Additionally, he only gave possession away on five occasions in a game where many of his colleagues struggled to find a teammate.

Sean Longstaff – 4

Now reaching Miggy levels of 'please no more' for us, sadly. He's a 26-year-old senior professional who's doing next to nothing to support Bruno either in or out of possession. Completed just 76% of his passes from just 38 touches and made only one tackle.

Bruno Guimarães – 6

Poor Bruno. He was far from his best but had a thankless task as the only player showing for the ball when our defenders had it. Still comfortably our most creative force, he also managed to avoid a booking yet again, which was a nice surprise in the circumstances.

Lewis Miley – 4

He played the best pass of the first half when releasing Miggy in behind down the left, though the Paraguayan was flagged offside and didn't finish anyway. Miley was almost Longstaff levels of ineffectual otherwise, unfortunately, in an admittedly difficult match.

Miguel Almirón – 3

He only had one sniff of goal and was contentiously flagged offside, though he predictably messed up the one-on-one with Raya anyway. His defensive output has even dried up now, so we're struggling to see how he's getting picked ahead of Barnes and Murphy.

Alexander Isak – 4

This was the most fight we've seen from the Swede when leading the line alone, but he had an impossible battle on his hands against the excellent Saliba and Gabriel. Only had a couple of sniffs of goal and showed just one glimpse of his class in his 64 minutes of action.

Anthony Gordon – 5

He was heavily involved in the consolation and was—once again—our most threatening attacking player. That's not saying much when the other two of the front three only managed 38 touches between them in their time on the pitch, of course, but it is what it is.

This was the strongest bench we've named for quite some time

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It was fantastic to see Joe Willock back involved and the header he scored was brilliant

Jacob Murphy – 5

Fielded in his preferred right-wing slot rather than as a number nine—please, never again—he was fine without ever looking likely to help us back into the contest. The right-wing area badly needs addressing in the summer, if 'Financial Fair Play' allows for it.

Harvey Barnes – 6

Played his part in the consolation and looked sharp, despite the game largely being done as a contest by the time he arrived shortly after the hour mark. The minutes won't have done him any harm at all and he looks like he could be a big player for us when finally fully fit.

Joe Willock – 8 ⭐️

Little Joe finished superbly for the consolation goal and was otherwise excellent in his 20-minute cameo, completing 100% of his passes, winning 2/3 duels, and looking surprisingly sharp after such a long layoff. He's such a good footballer, it's massive to have him back.

Dan Burn – 7

BDB got a lovely assist for Willock's consolation with a bursting run and cross but still managed to make an error leading to a big chance for Smith-Rowe that he had to make amends for by clearing off the line. That passage of play summed up his season so far.

Jamaal Lascelles – 6

Now that he's back to full fitness he's got a very good case for being restored to the starting eleven with the state of our defending recently. Arsenal had taken their foot off the pedal by the time he was introduced here, but he still helped to shore things up and stem the tide.

Next up for the Magpies is Blackburn away in the cup

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We last visited Ewood Park in 2019, winning 4-2 in the FA Cup Third Round under Rafa Benítez

What a massive game this has become. A place in the Quarter-final of the FA Cup awaits the winner, with an outcome required on the night due to no replays being in effect from the Fifth Round.

That means extra time and penalties may be required at Ewood Park on Tuesday evening, with the game a 7.45 p.m. (GMT) kick-off that's being shown live on BBC1 to a national audience.

Over 7,200 Geordies will be in attendance in the Darwen End in Lancashire, hoping to roar their side on to only a second last-eight FA Cup run in 18 years. If ever there was a 'must-win', this is it.

Howay the lads!