Arsenal outclass Newcastle to close in on Champions League place
Arsene Wenger’s men move four points ahead of Everton in the race for coveted fourth place
Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud scores his side’s third goal of the game during the Premier League clash at the Emirates Stadium, London. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA
Arsenal 3 Newcastle United 0
The first of Arsenal’s redefined season’s objectives is almost achieved. Victory here against an accommodating Newcastle United established a four-point cushion from fifth-placed Everton and, by the time his team host West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, Arsene Wenger may already be guaranteed a crack at a 17th successive season of Champions League football with the FA Cup final still to come. This campaign could yet feel productive.
The mathematics of the run-in dictate that, should Manchester City defeat Everton, then the Londoners are confirmed in the top four.
Yet, where Arsenal sauntered to victory, Alan Pardew was left squirming at his own side’s latest inadequate performance. A sixth consecutive loss provoked calls for his sacking from the disgruntled away support, with banners unfurled and chants bellowed into the night sky.
They are now in open revolt but there was much to encourage Cardiff and Liverpool, the teams Newcastle still have to play, in this feeble display.
This had always seemed like Arsenal’s opportunity to restore some breathing space from those who would oust them from the top four, a timely collision with a team whose form has evaporated since the turn of the year.
Newcastle have been safe for too long but, where that would normally merit credit, it has actually affected focus. Their form had deteriorated to the tune of 13 losses in 18 matches in all competitions since the end of December before their arrival in north London.
Alan Pardew’s absence from the touchline after a seven-game ban for head-butting Hull’s David Meylerhad hardly helped. Pardew cut an agitated figure and was hardly reassured even by his team’s relatively solid opening. This team can implode at any moment.
Their resistance almost stretched to the half-hour mark but, by the interval, the contest appeared concluded with Tim Krul overworked if generally excellent. Arsenal had just started to fret at their inability to prise the visitors apart when Moussa Sissoko pulled back Olivier Giroud to concede a free-kick.
Santi Cazorla’s delivery was beautifully arced, bypassing those in the six-yard box, and was poked in by a sliding Laurent Koscielny.
The goal punctured what resolve the visitors might have mustered after thwarting Arsenal early on. They limped to the interval, utterly reliant upon Krul to stave off a thrashing.
Twice Lukas Podolski might have added a second before Mikel Arteta was able to clip Giroud clear just before the break for the Frenchman, played onside by his compatriot Mathieu Debuchy, to collect and bear down on goal. His first effort was blocked by Krul, his follow-up again suffocated by the goalkeeper only to fizz across to Mesut Ozil, free at the far post and played onside by a sliding Paul Dummett. The German’s finish was dispatched almost disdainfully past Debuchy, who had retreated to the goal-line.
Arsenal continued pinning Newcastle back for long periods after the interval, the visitors only finding brief respite on the counter-attack.
The visiting fans’ dissent had morphed into calls for the manager’s head long before the end, their calls only choked when Giroud nodded home a third emphatically from Ozil’s centre.
ARSENAL: Szczesny agna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Ramsey (Rosicky 74), Cazorla, Ozil (Flamini 74), Podolski, Giroud (Sanogo 84). Subs not used: Vermaelen, Fabianski, Jenkinson, Kallstrom. Booked: Koscielny, Ramsey, Sagna.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul, Debuchy (Yanga-Mbiwa 84), Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett, Tiote, Anita, Sissoko, Gosling (Shola Ameobi 70), Gouffran (Armstrong 89), Remy. Subs not used: Haidara, Elliot, Obertan, Taylor.
Booked: Sissoko,Tiote. Att: 60,023
Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)