Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Ramsey, Ozil, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud
Subs: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Kallstrom, Flamini, Rosicky, Sanogo
Arsenal moved four points clear of Everton in the Premier League with just two games remaining, after a comfortable 3-0 win over Newcastle at the Emirates this evening.
Arsene Wenger named an unchanged side from the one that won 3-0 at Hull, and the scene was set in the early stages with the visitors sitting very deep when the Gunners had the ball, looking to break quickly behind when they got it.
Santi Cazorla sent Mesut Ozil into space down the right in the 11th minute, but Coloccini got back well to defend the cross aimed at Aaron Ramsey, and the Argentine had to head a Sagna cross behind for a 16th minute corner.
From the set-piece Krul punched clear and while still trying to find his bearings Ozil volleyed a shot just wide of the far post. Newcastle responded with a fine run from Sissokho but his shot was high from the edge of the Arsenal box.
The midfielder was then booked for a foul on Giroud presenting Arsenal with a free kick from about 40 yards out. Cazorla curled it in, Newcastle allowed the ball to bounce in the area, and Koscielny poked it home from close range. 1-0.
Bizarrely, referee Neil Swarbrick booked the Frenchman for kicking the ball away during his celebration. Moments later it was almost two when Podolski was sent clear down the left but his goalbound shot deflected just wide off the onrushing Krul. The Dutch keeper was in the action again after a series of corners, making a fine save from Podolski’s powerful header.
At the other end Szczesny was alert to a stinging Tiote drive from 35 yards, while Aaron Ramsey joined Koscielny in the book for a ‘foul’ on Tiote (replays showed there was no contact). Debuchy smashed a shot wide, but in the 42nd minute Arsenal doubled their lead.
Arteta played Giroud in over the top, he came in from the right hand side and could have squared it to Ozil. Instead, he took one shot, which Krul saved. It rebounded to him, he shot again, Krul saved again but the ball fell to an offside Ozil at the back post who tucked it away to make it 2-0.
After a lovely piece of Ozil skill left a Newcastle defender on his arse, Arsenal looked to push home their advantage, and Santi Cazorla almost made it 3-0 just before half-time but once again Tim Krul pulled off a good save to deny the little Spaniard.
The scond half began with Podolski and Monreal trying to pick up where the team had left off in the first half, and when an Ozil corner fell to Cazorla in the box, he volleyed a difficult chance over the bar from inside the box.
Koscielny found space for a volley from another corner but saw it poked clear by the Newcastle defence, and it was all very comfortable for the Gunners. There was a warning sign, however, when Gouffran went clean through and forced Szczesny into a save, as Pardew’s team tried to get back into the game.
Aaron Ramsey split the Newcastle defence open but Giroud was offside, before Sagna tried to play his French teammate in but hit his cross just too close to Krul. The third goal wasn’t long coming though. In the 66th minute Aaron Ramsey played a cute reverse pass to Ozil who had overlapped down the left hand side. He drilled in a cross and Giroud thumped home the close range header for his 21st goal of the season. 3-0.
It was superb football from the Gunners, and no less than their domination of the half deserved. Lukas Podolski was next to benefit from Ozil’s creativity, firing a shot just wide of the near post from the edge of the box, before Ramsey miskicked a good chance, again set up by the former Real Madrid man.
Arsene Wenger made a double change, bringing on Flamini and Rosicky for Ramsey and Ozil, and Bacary Sagna found himself in the book for bouncing the ball in frustration after giving away a free kick deep in the Arsenal half.
Newcastle, quite literally, didn’t give a single shit about the game, booting the ball away at will. Arsene Wenger brought on Yaya Sanogo to replace Giroud in the 84th minute, and the Gunners were unlucky not to have a penalty when Rosicky was clearly fouled in the area only for referee Swarbrick to give a goal kick.
Nacho Monreal almost got on the scoresheet but again Krul made a save, this time at his near post, as the game fizzled to its inevitable conclusion.
In the end Arsenal were well worth their win and now have the chance to secure a top four spot this weekend against West Brom at the Emirates.
The Gunners celebrated St Totteringham’s day, finishing above the old, geographical enemy for the 19th consecutive year.