Premier League: Arsenal close in on fourth with 3-0 victory over Newcastle
Last Updated: 28/04/14 11:39pm
Arsenal closed in on another shot at Champions League qualification with a 3-0 victory over Newcastle to inflict a sixth straight defeat on Alan Pardew.
The Gunners are now four points ahead of Everton in the race to secure a top-four finish, with just two matches remaining, as club-record signing Mesut Ozil delivered an inspired display, scoring one and creating another.
Best of the game:
- Goal of the match: Giroud's close-range header was the result of a neat overlap between Ramsey and Ozil and a fine cross from the German.
- Pass of the match: Cazorla's inswinging free-kick was flighted to perfection for Koscielny to open the scoring.
- Save of the match: Krul dived to his right to parry Cazorla's drive from inside the box around the far post just before the break.
- Man of the match: Ozil was effortlessly a class above his opponents. The record signing probed and gave a much-improved performance after struggling in the winter.
- Talking point: Arsenal are heavy favourites to secure fourth spot, but can Pardew survive six straight defeats and the wrath of the Toon Army?
Newcastle, though, continue their slide down the Premier League following another lacklustre display - which left the 2,000-strong travelling support venting their anger on Pardew, whose long-term future is in doubt, despite returning to the touchline after his seven-game ban for headbutting Hull's David Meyler.
Arsenal showed the greater intent during the opening stages, with Ozil's angled drive bouncing into the ground and narrowly wide of Tim Krul's right-hand post.
Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko, just back from an injury lay-off, burst clear on 20 minutes and towards the Arsenal penalty area, only to send a poor chipped effort horribly wide.
Sissoko was then somewhat fortunate to only be shown a yellow card by referee Neil Swarbrick for pulling back Olivier Giroud as he burst clear just inside the Newcastle half.
Justice was served, however, when Santi Cazorla floated in a deep free-kick which bounced through to the six-yard box, where Laurent Koscielny stabbed it past Krul to put Arsenal ahead on 26 minutes.
The France defender picked up a caution for his celebrations, kicking the ball high into the Clock End.
Newcastle briefly rallied, but the visitors were soon chasing the game again and fell further behind three minutes before half-time.
Giroud timed his run to beat a high Newcastle offside trap and race into the penalty area. Krul was out quickly and twice made a good save, before the ball bobbled out to Ozil at the far post, who gratefully tapped it in.
The visitors had a great chance to reduce the arrears just before the hour when Yoan Gouffran sprinted clear, but Wojciech Szczesny was out quickly to save.
Arsenal moved 3-0 ahead on 66 minutes and again Ozil was the architect.
The German collected a pass from Aaron Ramsey to ghost down the left side and chip over the perfect cross for Giroud to head home his 15th league goal of the season.
The Newcastle fans again turned their anger on Pardew, whose relationship with the Toon Army may well have now reached tipping point - many holding banners against the man who not so long ago had taken the club into a fifth place finish and the Europa League.
Arsenal, though, look all set to finish in the Champions League places again as they chase a place at Europe's top table for a remarkable 17 straight campaigns ahead of their FA Cup final date with Hull at Wembley.
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Arsenal v Newcastle
Per Mertesacker insists Arsenal have answered their critics as they close on Champions League qualification once again.
Mikel Arteta had a 92% passing accuracy in Arsenal's win over Newcastle and was vital.
Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal have demonstrated the strength of their spirit after a 3-0 victory over Newcastle.