Arsenal prepared for their Europa League showdown against Villarreal with a confidence-boosting 2-0 win away to Newcastle at St James’ Park.
Mohamed Elneny scored his first Premier League goal for the Gunners, before Pierre Emerick Aubameyang – on his first start since 3 April – secured the points in the second half.
Arsenal travelled to Newcastle in need of victory after what manager Mikel Arteta described as a bad week of results before kick-off.
A disappointing draw against relegation-threatened Fulham was followed by defeats at Everton and Villarreal.
But with morale low, the trip to St James’ Park came at the perfect moment.
Elneny was the beneficiary in the fifth minute when Aubameyang mistimed his shot, to open his league account on his 66th appearance.
Granit Xhaka also forced Martin Dubravka into an smart save in the first half, before Aubameyang made it five goals in five appearances against the Magpies with an acrobatic finish after Martinelli’s pin-point cross in the 61st minute.
Arsenal, who host Villarreal on Thursday, move back above Aston Villa into ninth place in the table.
The Gunners’ season now rests on whether they can overturn the deficit against Villarreal to reach a second European final in three years.
Steve Bruce’s side, who lost Fabian Schar to a straight red card after a late challenge on Gabriel Martinelli, remain nine points above the relegation zone with four games remaining.
Eight points from four unbeaten games in April looks as if it may have secured Premier League football for another season, but the Magpies’ potency will be a concern during the summer.