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Arsenal 4-0 Newcastle: Gunners pass test but still work in progress – Martin Keown analysis

Arsenal faced a crossroads of their season during half-time of the eventually comfortable 4-0 win over Newcastle United on Sunday.

The Gunners had drawn 13 of their opening 25 league games - a Premier League record at this stage of a season - and looked well set for another after a timid first-half showing against a well-drilled and disciplined Magpies side.

Arsenal looked short of confidence, playing at walking pace at times, and mustered few chances of note in a slow first 45 minutes.

But almost right from the restart they looked more like their old selves.

Manager Mikel Arteta must have reminded the players that he had given them an opportunity to impress and they were letting it pass them by.

It was a test of both Arteta and this Arsenal team's resolve and one they eventually passed.

What was wrong in the first half?

Arsenal's big problem all season has been finding a consistency of play. They have been unable to put together a 90-minute performance under both Arteta and his predecessor Unai Emery, who paid with his job in November.

This side has had a few false dawns this season - and Arteta had only actually won one Premier League game prior to Sunday.

In a Premier League table of games played between Arteta taking charge for the first time on 26 December and Sunday, the Gunners were down in 14th place on eight points from their seven matches.

Yes, they may have only lost once, but they had only collected three points more than West Ham United, who were bottom of the pile over that period. A tally of eight goals scored also illustrated the side's issues in recent months.

Under Arteta, Arsenal were averaging just 2.9 shots on target per game before Sunday, compared with 4.5 under Emery. It is little wonder they had drawn so many times.

Newcastle were always going to come to Emirates Stadium and sit back, but what were Arsenal doing in the first half to disrupt their opponents?

Right-back Hector Bellerin seemed to be wary of crossing the halfway line and getting at the Newcastle defence.

Arteta came to Arsenal after time served under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, who are among the best when it comes to sending their full-backs forward and finding space wide and high up the pitch. There was none of that and, as a result, Arsenal became passive in their performance. They were waiting for something to happen instead of making something happen.

Newcastle had two days fewer off during their mid-season break but looked the fresher side, counter-attacking with real intent - and in winger Allan Saint-Maximin they had the game's most dangerous player.

You wondered whether Arsenal's decision to take in a training camp in Dubai when some clubs - including Newcastle - allowed their players a holiday had backfired. The players didn't seem to be enjoying themselves.

Arsene Wenger never took us away as a group. Magpies boss Steve Bruce joked that he was 'sick of the sight'