Arsenal surge past Newcastle in ten goal thriller
Arsenal scored a morale boosting triumph against Newcastle United in their last fixture of the year to send fans home happy, and jump to 5th spot in the league table, with a healthy boost to their goal difference as well. It was more year-end misery for Newcastle though, as scoring thrice for the second game in a row aided them little in terms of points, and they continue to hover dangerously close to the relegation zone. A well deserved hat-trick from Theo Walcott led the charge for the Gunners, while an excellent brace from substitute Giroud played its part in a thrilling win.
An exciting start to the match saw the home team squander a good opportunity on the counterattack when Chamberlain dragged his shot wide, after Jack Wilshere showed presence of mind to find the winger. Arsenal, who began the game with Koscielny in place of Mertesacker, seemed willing to sit back and absorb some pressure when Newcastle were in possession, but played some good football when they had the ball at their feet. Thus, it was Dutchman Tim Krul who was the busier of the two goalkeepers over the opening spell of play, having to claim a couple of balls into the box, rescue one from going out for a corner, and rush out and make a clearance. There were few clear cut chances though, although Arsene Wenger’s fumbling with the zipper of his jacket did provide a couple of amusing moments for the viewers.
On the stroke of twenty minutes though, Theo Walcott ran clear of Newcastle’s defence and produced a fantastic finish to give Arsenal the lead, and further enhance his reputation of playing as the lead striker. The fact that Walcott seemed to be in an offside position counted for little as the referee stayed away from his whistle, and let the Englishman sweep a fine ball into the far corner with his right foot. A spill from Tim Krul while claiming a corner gave Chamberlain a sniff at goal, but the Newcastle ‘keeper managed to pounce on the ball, and gather it in. Theo Walcott nearly doubled his team’s lead, and his own, when Podolski put him through on goal, but failed to make clean contact, allowing an advancing Tim Krul to gather the ball. Szczescny was called into action for the first serious effort by Newcastle in the 39th minute, when a fierce shot by Tiote was straight at the Polish ‘keeper, and was deflected over the bar. From the resulting corner though, it was Arsenal who almost prospered as Walcott broke away well to create a 2-on-1 situation against Newcastle, but a poor ball let Bigirimana track back and douse the danger.
Arsenal were soon made to pay for their failure to finish chances, as Szczesny found himself wrong footed from a Newcastle free kick, allowing the ball to sneak past him and level scores. Demba Ba, as quite expected, was the scorer, although the deflection off Wilshere was what caused Szczesny to stop in his tracks, and attempt in vain to reach the ball. Newcastle then went on to finish the half strongly, as Marveaux drew another diving save from Arsenal’s ‘keeper, and Demba Ba headed over from the second of two corners that followed.
The beginning of the second half saw more action at the same end, as Tim Krul was kept busy, first to keep away a Cazorla pass, and then to deny a Kieran Gibbs attempt at the near post. Arsenal fans, however, were left to rue Gibbs’ poor decision making, with three Arsenal players waiting in the box for a cutback from the full back. The same fans were cheering just a couple of minutes later though, when Chamberlain received the ball from Cazorla and rolled it in under Krul’s outstretched hand, with the ball passing between Santon’s legs in the process. Sloppy Arsenal defending let Newcastle draw level for the second time, as an unmarked Marveaux sneaked in at the backpost to tap in Newcastle’s second goal of the evening, and his first in the Premier League. It wouldn’t have been possible though, without Obertan, whose cross somehow made it to the backpost, bypassing four Arsenal defenders in the process.
The game was progressing at a frantic pace, and the very next attack saw Cazorla draw a decent save off Krul, who couldn’t prevent Podolski from giving Arsenal the lead for the third time, within five minutes past the hour mark. Wilshere stole the ball well, and then sent it to the far post for Podolski, where it hit the back of Coloccini’s head and bounced off the cross bar before the German put it across the line from just inches out; 3 – 2 in the 64th minute, and an exciting game on hand. The gap between goals seemed only to reduce with every one scored, as Newcastle did what Manchester United had done to them, and drew level for the third time, through Demba Ba, in the 69th minute. The next goal, however, went to Arsenal, putting the scoreline 4 – 3 against Newcastle for the second match in a row. Walcott was left unmarked in a crowded Newcastle box, and finished calmly when the ball eventually fell to him after a scramble; Walcott’s second of the game in the 73rd minute.
Walcott nearly benefited from a deflection off James Perch to seal his hat-trick, but the ball went out for a corner just inches wide of Krul’s left post. Instead, it was Giroud who benefited from Walcott’s cross, grabbing a typical target-man goal with a diving header that gave Wenger’s side some breathing space. The next goal was all Giroud’s though, as the French striker fashioned space for himself after receiving the ball from Walcott, and scored Arsenal’s sixth goal of the game in the 87th minute. There was more misery to be heaped on Alan Pardew’s side, as Walcott picked himself up after being brought to the ground by a challenge from Obertan, sparing Chris Foy a penalty decision, and chipped the ‘keeper to claim a well deserved hat-trick. Newcastle’s defence was in tatters, and it was nearly two hat-tricks for Arsenal, as Giroud sent a header crashing against the bar. It wasn’t to be for the Frenchman though, as the game finished 7 – 3 at the Emirates.
Results: Arsenal (Theo Walcott 20′, 73′, 90′ + 1, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain 50′, Lukas Podolski 64′, Olivier Giroud 84′, 87′) 7 – 3 (Demba Ba 43′, 69′, Sylvain Marveaux 59′) Newcastle United