SO much for being an annoyance to Arsenal then.

Newcastle United might have got under Mikel Arteta’s skin in the last couple of seasons, but the Arsenal boss was never going to have another uncomfortable night as his side continued their push for the Premier League title.

Dominant throughout, Arsenal crushed the Magpies as they claimed a thoroughly-deserved 4-1 victory that was every bit as emphatic as the scoreline suggests.

Kai Havertz added to Sven Botman’s own goal before the break, with Bukayo Saka and Jakub Kiwior adding further goals in the second half as Newcastle offered an alarming lack of resistance.

For the fourth time in the last 11 league games, the Magpies conceded four goals, with their defensive disorganisation once again costing them dear. Arsenal were excellent in attack, but time and time again, they got a helping hand from their opponents.

Substitute Joe Willock clawed a goal back in the closing stages, but this was another chastening example of just how far Newcastle have slipped. Last term these two sides were meeting as equals. This season, they are poles apart.

Newcastle’s issues began before kick-off, with Martin Dubravka struggling with an illness that forced his omission from the squad. Loris Karius came in to replace him, making his first start of the season and only his second appearance in total in a Newcastle shirt.

In better news for the Magpies, Alexander Isak was able to make his first start in a month after recovering from injury, replacing Harvey Barnes, who dropped down to the bench.

Not, however, that Isak saw much of the ball. From the outset, Arsenal were utterly dominant, firing passes around in midfield and camping themselves on the edge of Newcastle’s 18-yard box.

Karius was called into action as early as the eighth minute, saving Saka’s deflected shot, and Newcastle’s stand-in shot-stopper was involved again two minutes later as he parried Declan Rice’s driven strike.

Eight minutes later, and Karius was saving again. This time, however, he was still unable to prevent Arsenal taking the lead.

Karius did brilliantly to keep out Gabriel’s near-post header as the defender met Saka’s corner, but when Tino Livramento tried to prod the loose ball away from the goalline, he only succeeded in stabbing it at Botman, who was unable to stop himself from deflecting it back into the goal.

It might have been a messy goal, but it was no more than Arsenal deserved, and the free-flowing hosts quickly doubled their lead six minutes later.

Botman was caught ball-watching as Jorginho released Gabriel Martinelli into the penalty area, and when the winger cut the ball back into the middle, an unmarked Havertz was left with the simple task of slotting home.

Martinelli almost added a third goal on the half-hour mark as he headed over from Saka’s cross after the England international has unlocked the Newcastle defence with a slick one-two with Martin Odegaard, and with Karius effectively mounting a one-man rearguard action, the Magpies thwarted the Gunners seven minutes before the break when their German goalkeeper turned Saka’s shot around the post.

Remarkably, Newcastle only had one touch inside the Arsenal box in the whole of the first half, so while they were unable to reduce the deficit four minutes into the second period, at least they improved that statistic as they recorded their first effort on target.

Anthony Gordon galloped away down the left-hand side, and after cutting infield, the winger drove in a low effort that was gathered by David Raya.

To be fair to Newcastle, their performance improved slightly for a 15-minute period after the break, with Isak coming close on the hour mark.

Bruno Guimaraes found the Swede with a raking long ball, and after stepping in from the left flank, he fired over from inside the area.

That was to be Isak’s final act, with Eddie Howe opting to substitute the striker as he limited his minutes on his return to action, and within two minutes of making a double change, the Newcastle boss was watching his side concede a third goal.

Botman’s bad night continued as he gave the ball away inside his own half, and after Havertz fed Saka inside the area, the England winger stepped inside Livramento before curling into the far corner.

Four minutes later, and Arsenal were adding a fourth, with Kiwior heading home Rice’s corner at the near post via a deflection off Lewis Miley.

The hosts’ fourth goal was the signal for a triple challenge from Newcastle that saw Willock, Dan Burn and Jamaal Lascelles come on, and two of the substitutes combined to pull a goal back with six minutes remaining.

Gordon released Burn on the overlap, and when he crossed from the left, the returning Willock glanced home an excellent header to score against his former club.