Post-Match Report

Arsenal 2-1 Newcastle - Match Report

Newcastle United -

Emirates Stadium
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
2 1
  Newcastle United
Newcastle United

By Chris Harris at Emirates Stadium

Arsenal's comeback kings were at it again on Monday night as a dramatic stoppage-time winner from Thomas Vermaelen snatched all three points against Newcastle.

Arsene Wenger's side went into this fixture having turned around their last three top-flight games and Hatem Ben Arfa's early strike left them in familiar territory.

But Robin van Persie equalised within a minute with his 33rd goal of the season and Vermaelen ended Newcastle's resistance with a close-range finish in the dying seconds.

No other team has come from behind to win four consecutive Premier League matches and, make no mistake, Arsenal had to dig deep against a talented and committed Newcastle side.

Their heads could have dropped when chances went begging in a one-sided second half but another relentess effort carried them through.

With 10 games left Arsenal lie fourth, three points ahead of Chelsea and just one behind their old rivals Tottenham. There will be twists and turns in the chase for Champions League places. But Wenger's side have the momentum and if they maintain these high standards - and this work ethic - they should get what they want come May.

The manager had plenty of good news before Newcastle's visit as Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Yossi Benayoun and Andre Santos all returned to the squad, the latter after three months on the sidelines. But the manager opted for a tweak rather than wholesale changes, merely replacing Gervinho with Arteta.

All the same it was heartening to see some game-changers on the bench.

This fixture brought together two of the Premier League's most prolific scorers - between them Van Persie and Demba Ba had mustered 41 goals in 47 starts - so it was no surprise to see them fire the game's warning shots.

Ba got one away after just 65 seconds and Van Persie was inches away from connecting with Theo Walcott's inviting cross in the third minute. The Dutchman might have done better moments later too when he lost control of Alex Song's deflected pass and Tim Krul was able to grab the loose ball.

This was already shaping up as a decent game. Newcastle, bright, tenacious and attack-minded, looked every inch the top-four contenders while Arsenal looked busy and dangerous, especially down the right when Walcott and Bacary Sagna got on the ball.

The flanks seemed the best option with Gabriel Obertan shadowing Song and Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye buzzing around Tomas Rosicky and Arteta. A confident Walcott gave Davide Santon plenty of problems throughout the first half.

But it was Newcastle's own flying winger who made the breakthrough in the 14th minute. Tiote cut out Vermaelen's pass and fed Ba before Obertan picked out Ben Arfa's run on the right. The Frenchman cut inside and arrowed a shot just inside Wojciech Szczesny's near post.

The visitors celebrated but they led for just 55 seconds.

That's how long it took Tomas Rosicky, proud owner of a new contract, to send Walcott racing down the right. The England international crossed and Van Persie shrugged off Mike Williamson before slamming a shot low into the corner. The perfect riposte.

For the record, it was Van Persie's 33rd goal of a remarkable campaign and it saw him eclipse Ruud van Nistelrooy as the most prolific Dutchman in a single Premier League season.

The Arsenal captain set about doubling his tally, firing a speculative shot over from 20 yards before testing Krul with a fiercely-struck free kick.

Goalmouth action was in shorter supply for the rest of the half but the game was no less compelling as Arsenal probed and attempted to pick their way through a committed Newcastle rearguard.

Santon was withdrawn at the break but Walcott had the beating of his replacement, James Perch, and he swung over another dangerous cross four minutes into the second half. Rosicky got power on his header but Krul threw up an arm to deny the Czech.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was next to go close with a bolt from the blue, fizzing a volley over the bar from 20 yards. Then Van Persie shot straight at Krul after Arteta had flicked a cross into the box.

This was nip and tuck no longer - Arsenal were very much in the ascendancy and cracks were beginning to appear in the Newcastle defence.

The hosts should have gone ahead in the 67th minute. Once again Walcott was the instigator, collecting a pass from Rosicky on the right and surging past his marker. He squared for Rosicky, who had continued his run, but the Czech sliced his shot wide.

Three minutes later the old one-two of Song and Van Persie linked up - but this time the end product was a virtual mis-kick instead of a deadly volley.

Wenger turned to his subs, bringing on Gervinho for Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ramsey for Rosicky.

Van Persie lashed a right-footed effort wide after Kieran Gibbs had robbed Ben Arfa on the byline and Gervinho failed to make solid contact after a left-wing corner reached him beyond the far post.

By now it was a siege. Vermaelen saw his firm header tipped over by Krul and five minutes of stoppage time began with Fabricio Coloccini deflecting Walcott's effort over the bar.

But Arsenal deserved their winner and eventually it came, Vermaelen stealing in at the far post to bundle a close-range effort past Krul.

Referee: Howard Webb
Attendance: 60095

See Full List

Fixtures & Results

Premier League
Ticket Info