Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe rises from red-card scare to oust Newcastle
Emile Smith Rowe made the most of his red card reprieve as the Arsenal youngster sent the FA Cup holders into the fourth round with the decisive extra-time strike in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 2-0 victory over Newcastle United.
Smith Rowe avoided being sent off when his foul on Sean Longstaff - initially ruled a dismissal - was changed to a booking after referee Chris Kavanagh consulted the pitchside monitor.
The promising 20-year-old midfielder celebrated the escape with a fine finish to open the scoring in the 109th minute of a hard-fought third-round tie at the Emirates Stadium.
Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bagged Arsenal's second goal - just his sixth of a difficult season - in the final moments.
"It was bit of a relief for me with the (red-card) incident. It definitely wasn't intentional," Smith Rowe said.
"I'm happy to get the goal. Since young, I have always wanted to play for this club.
"We knew how tough it was going to be. It was about breaking them down. It shows how together we are. We have been working off the pitch to get closer as a group."
The Gunners gave boss Mikel Arteta the first piece of silverware of his reign when they beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final in August and the optimism provided by that success is slowly returning to north London after a difficult period.
Arteta was fighting to save his job just two weeks ago, but three successive wins over Christmas lifted Arsenal away from the English Premier League relegation zone and eased the pressure on the 38-year-old Spaniard.
Arsenal have won the FA Cup a record 14 times, lifting the trophy four times in the last seven seasons, and another long run in the competition would be a welcome boost for Arteta.
The only negative yesterday was the ankle injury suffered by forward Gabriel Martinelli in the warm-up, with the 19-year-old set to undergo a scan.
The Brazilian was named in Arsenal's starting line-up, but was replaced by Reiss Nelson minutes before kick-off.
Martinelli returned to action last month after a prolonged absence due to a knee problem, but is now set for another spell on the sidelines.
"I am gutted," Arteta said.
"I went to the medical room and he was in tears... I imagine that we're not going to have good news with him."
Arsenal, who are 11th in the EPL with 23 points from 17 games, host 14th-placed Crystal Palace on Thursday. - AFP, REUTERS