ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
LONDON • The mark of a world-class striker is that he can make difficult chances look easy, and, in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal have one of the most clinical finishers around.
Last season's joint Golden Boot winner with 22 goals got his Premier League account up and running for the season as the Gabon international yesterday scored the winner at Newcastle in the 58th minute with clear-cut chances few and far between.
Despite the cagey affair, with the Gunners having only two shots on target, he showed his predatory instincts to nab his 33rd goal in 50 league appearances - Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (36) is the only current player who has scored more - to ruin Steve Bruce's managerial debut at his boyhood club.
Paul Dummett's pass sold fellow Newcastle defender Jetro Willems, who had entered the fray just four minutes earlier, horribly short.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles was able to seize possession and pick out Aubameyang, who took two touches before dispatching his shot beyond Martin Dubravka.
Recalling how Arsenal had started last year with two consecutive league defeats, Aubameyang later told reporters: "We fought today a lot. It was a great game against a good team. It was important to start with a win; last season, we started badly, so (now) we are happy.
"It is always positive for all the squad to win the first game, everyone is happy to get three points and we're looking forward to winning more games."
Arsenal had a wretched away record last season, keeping just one clean sheet on their travels, so taking three points without conceding was the perfect way to turn over a new leaf and give the away fans renewed belief they can get back in the top four this campaign.
TEAM MOST IMPORTANT
We fought today a lot. It was a great game against a good team. It was important to start with a win; last season we started bad, so (now) we are happy... Of course (the Golden Boot) is in the mind of a striker but first of all the team is the most important. I'm really pleased the goal helped us win the game.
PIERRE EMERICK-AUBAMEYANG, Arsenal's match-winner, on their winning start and retaining the Golden Boot he won last season.
They will again play Europa League football this term for the third year running, but an active transfer window and a host of new faces have raised morale around the London club.
It showed at St James' Park as their often-criticised defence held firm, with centre-backs Calum Chambers and Sokratis Papastathopoulos keeping the hosts at bay, while Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi were steely in midfield.
In contrast, Bruce's appointment was hardly greeted with widespread joy on Tyneside and Newcastle fans yesterday staged a protest against owner Mike Ashley in the streets before boycotting the game in large enough numbers to leave swathes of empty seats.
Gunners boss Unai Emery's decision to leave new signings David Luiz, Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pepe on the bench was rewarded by a determined, yet conservative display from his team.
There were also first league starts for academy graduates Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock, while Gabriel Martinelli, Pepe and Ceballos made their debuts off the bench.
However, Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac were absent after two men were yesterday charged following an incident in which the Arsenal players were victims of an attempted car-jacking last month.
Separately, Leicester and Wolves offered little to show they can break into the top six this season after opening their campaigns with an uninspiring goal-less draw.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN