(Watch Highlights) Arsenal flatten Newcastle, Arteta, Havertz, Howe react

Rampant Arsenal remained hot on the heels of the top two in the title battle with an emphatic 4-1 victory over a struggling Newcastle United side in the Premier League on Saturday at a rocking Emirates Stadium.

An own goal by Sven Botman and a simple Kai Havertz finish put the home side 2-0 up at the break following a siege on the Newcastle goal before Bukayo Saka and Jakub Kiwior struck in the second half to comfortably wrap up the points.

Arsenal’s sixth successive Premier League victory this year took Mikel Arteta’s third-placed side to 58 points after 26 games, two behind leaders Liverpool and a point adrift of Manchester City, who earlier won 1-0 at Bournemouth.

“It’s crucial to win games and we have to put pressure on [Liverpool and Manchester City] and that is what we will do,” goalscorer Havertz told TNT Sports. “The fans give us so much energy that’s so important for us — it gives us a big boost.”

Arsenal opened the scoring after 18 minutes when the ball bounced off Newcastle defender Botman’s knee into his own goal following a goalmouth scramble after goalkeeper Loris Karius made a fine save from a Gabriel header at a corner.

Six minutes later it was 2-0 when Havertz tucked the ball home from the edge of the six-yard box following a cutback by Gabriel Martinelli on the right byline after a clever chipped pass from Jorginho left the Newcastle defence exposed again.

Arsenal’s domination was reflected in their 64% first-half possession with 12 goal attempts, including four on target, while Newcastle failed to register a shot in the opening period of a Premier League game for the first time since March 2014.

Saka put the game beyond the visitors with Arsenal’s third in the 65th, his 13th in the league this season, when he ran down the right and cut inside before firing into the far corner before Kiwior headed home a Declan Rice corner to make it 4-0.

Former Arsenal forward Willock got Newcastle on the scoresheet with a fine looping header into the far corner after 84 minutes following a pinpoint Dan Burn cross but by then it was all far to late for Eddie Howe’s floundering team.

Arsenal have scored 15 goals in their last three Premier League games and the win over Newcastle was the perfect tonic following their late 1-0 loss at Porto in a disappointing Champions League round-of-16 first-leg display in midweek.

“I think it was very important [to win] it was a tough game on Wednesday [in Portugal] and we wanted to win today — we did well today,” added Havertz.

The defeat leaves Newcastle in eighth place on 37 points.

“Arsenal were very good, we weren’t and we got punished,” said Howe. “We were off in most aspects of our games, we didn’t do the basics right.”

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OFFICIAL: Newcastle confirm Rafael Benitez departure

Premier League club Newcastle have confirmed Rafael Benitez will leave the when his contract expires on June 30.

The 59-year-old had been in talks with club bosses over a new deal for months but they have failed to reach an agreement.

Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley was tasked by owner Mike Ashley to lead negotiations with Benitez, who also turned down a new deal last summer, reports Sky Sports.

The announcement of the Spaniard’s departure is contained in a statement on Monday, which read: “It is with disappointment that we announce manager Rafael Benitez will leave Newcastle United upon the expiry of his contract on 30th June 2019.

“We have worked hard to extend Rafa’s contract over a significant period of time, however it has not been – and will not be – possible to reach an agreement with Rafa and his representatives.

“Rafa’s coaching staff, Paco de Miguel Moreno, Antonio Gomez Perez and Mikel Antia, will also leave the club on 30th June.

“We would like to thank Rafa and his coaching team for their efforts over the last three years and their significant contribution to what has been collectively achieved.

“We would also like to thank our supporters, players and staff for their patience during a period of uncertainty. The process to appoint a successor will now begin.”

Photo Credit: Shields Gazette