Monday, 12 March 2012

Vermaelen caps another Arsenal late show

An added time Thomas Vermaelen winner saw Arsenal edge out a strong Newcastle side 2-1 at the Emirates last night.

The late winner meant Arsenal not only extended their lead over Chelsea, but closed the gap on their city rivals Tottenham to one point in the race for third.

Hatem Ben Arfa gave Newcastle an early lead; however Arsenal drew level barely a minute after, in the form of Robin Van Persie. With the game looking set to finish all square Vermaelen popped up to create a Premier League record for Arsenal, who have now come from behind to win their last four games, a feat never before achieved in the English top flight.

Arsenal made one change from their epic encounter with AC Milan, with Mikel Arteta returning to add a bit of flair to the Arsenal midfield, whilst Newcastle made two changes with Pape Cisse and Ryan Taylor replaced with Gabriel Obertain and Ben Arfa.

Newcastle opened the scoring in the thirteenth minute through the returning Ben Arfa. Cheick Tiote won the ball back in Arsenal’s half, after a poor Laurent Koscielny pass, who found Obertan, whose first time pass was clever and Ben Arfa, who cut inside Kieran Gibbs too easily, smashed home inside Wojciech Szczesny’s front post.

Literally seconds latter Arsenal levelled through their likeliest of sources. Walcott did well to engineer a brilliant cross, which Van Persie controlled exquisitely, in doing so taking Mike Williamson out of the game, and the Premier League’s leading scorer comfortably slotted past his Dutch counterpart Tim Krul to equalise.

Walcott, who looked dangerous in the early proceedings, came the closest to a third goal in the first half; however his shot was cleared of the line by Danny Simpson.

Half time came and went and Davide Santon, who was given the run around by the improving Walcott, didn’t come out for the second half, as the former Nottingham Forest man James Perch came on for the Italian.
Arsenal came out in the second half stronger and dominated possession as well as increasing their threat in the Newcastle half, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin, who wasn’t having the best of evenings, came close twice in quick succession.

Tomas Rosicky, who signed a contract extension with the club earlier in the day, was again fantastic and the Czech captain was behind Arsenal’s best moments in the early stages of the second half.

Gervinho, a second half replacement for Oxlade-Chamberlin, really should’ve given Arsenal the lead, only to screw wide with the goal at his mercy inside the six yard box.

With five minutes extra time announced, it looked like Arsenal were set to drop points, only for the rampaging Vermaelen to win it for the Gunners. With Newcastle in possession deep in the Arsenal half, Alan Pardew’s side should’ve seen the game out; however Arsenal broke in the shape of Alex Song, who found Walcott, and the England internationals cross feel perfectly for Vermaelen who beat Krul to ball and gave Arsenal the all important win.

The goal was harsh on Newcastle, who had defended brilliantly through out the game. Captain Fabricio Coloccini was again superb at the heart of Newcastle’s defence; however for a second successive Premier League game, Arsenal sealed the three points with an added time winner.

Man of the match – Tomas Rosicky.

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