Arsenal picked up just their seventh Premier League victory of the season with a confidence-boosting 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners have been the division’s draw specialists this campaign having been held 13 times and it looked to be going the same way after a goalless first half.
But the hosts sprung into action immediately after the restart with Eddie Nketiah’s no-look strike from Nicolas Pepe’s cutback clipping the top of the crossbar.
Mikel Arteta’s side broke the deadlock on 54 minutes through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s well-placed header and Pepe doubled the lead just three minutes later with a neat, first-time finish.
Mesut Ozil poked in a third late on from substitute Alexandre Lacazette’s pass and the Frenchman converted a fourth in injury-time.
Newcastle attempted to play further forward after conceding but were restricted to few opportunities – the dangerous Allan Saint-Maximin coming closest with a curling strike that rattled the post.
Arsenal’s win moves them up into the top half of the table in 10th place – six points behind north London rivals Tottenham, who claimed a last-gasp winner over Aston Villa to go fifth.
Arsenal show improvement in style
Arsenal have suffered a wretched season in the top-flight, 16 points and six places worse off than at this stage under Unai Emery last season.
A poor start this term led to the Spaniard’s dismissal and although they had lost just once under replacement Arteta, they had drawn seven games since his appointment in December.
Before the game, only the bottom two sides Watford (5) and Norwich (4) had won fewer games than Arsenal and even this victory was not plain sailing. There were plenty of groans from the home supporters when it looked like their side were still shaking off the comforts of their winter break in Dubai as they demonstrated a lack of cohesion in the final third.
Bukayo Saka curled narrowly wide, Pepe had a free-kick tipped over by Martin Dubravka and Shkodran Mustafi saw his hooked shot headed off the line by Joelinton.
But Arsenal came out with renewed focus in the second half and scored twice before the hour mark to put the game to bed – Aubameyang powering in a header for his 15th league goal of the campaign from Pepe’s hanging cross.
And it was Pepe, the club’s £72m record signing, who turned from provider to goalscorer following sublime work by Saka, who nutmegged Valentino Lazaro and provided the perfect cross for him to tuck home.
Aubameyang could have further extended his tally for the season but his cross-come-shot landed on top of the crossbar.
Just when it looked like the game was coming to a subdued close Arsenal scored twice more for a thumping win – Ozil’s effort squirming through Dubravka’s hands – following a move that involved 35 passes and all 11 players touching the ball – and Lacazette added gloss to the scoreline.
Sheffield United in sixth-place will now be in their sights, as they aim to avoid finishing outside the top-six for the first time in 25 years, while they also remain in both the FA Cup and Europa League competitions.
The appointment of Steve Bruce as Newcastle boss to replace the popular Rafael Benitez was not universally well-received by supporters but the ex-Manchester United defender has responded to critics with a decent debut campaign.
The Tynesiders lie 12th in the table, seven points clear of the drop zone having been just one point outside the relegation place at this stage last term, but this heavy loss was a big setback for the visitors.
Bruce’s defensive plan with five-at-the-back did not work on this occasion as they were picked off by Arsenal’s front-foot pressure and finishing in key moments.
But it is at the other end of the pitch where they really struggle, they have scored just 24 times, with only Crystal Palace less prolific.
In Joelinton – the club’s record £40m signing from Hoffenheim – they have a striker who has netted just once in the league and is on a run of 22 games and 1,856 minutes without a goal.
The Brazilian works hard for the team but he lacks goals and also touches inside the opposition penalty area – just three of his 47 came in the 18-yard box.
One chance did fall to him in the first-half when he was unmarked eight yards out, but his flicked effort at the near post drifted off target.
Full-back Lazaro, a recent loan signing from Inter Milan, impressed, winning the ball back three times and providing an outlet on the flank, while on the other side of the pitch Danny Rose made more passes (42) than any team-mate despite the constant jeers from the home fans for his Tottenham links.
The lively Saint-Maximin was unlucky with his effort that struck the woodwork, while Sean Longstaff’s deflected volley was pushed away by Bernd Leno.