Arsenal 3 Newcastle 0: One Foot Away From Champions League Qualification
Emirates Stadium (Premier League)
Arsenal: Koscielny 26′, Ozil 41, Giroud 67′
After a frantic wait, the Gunners finally had a golden opportunity to give themselves some breathing space in the race for Champions League qualification after Everton stumbled against Southampton on Saturday. As expected, Arsene Wenger fielded an unchanged lineup from the side that was victorious against Hull but the dugout had a lot of quality options.
Arsenal came out of their shells early with some intricate passing play between Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla . When the ball fell to Lukas Podolski’s feet, the Emirates held its breath as the fans expected another thunderbolt from that evil left foot of his but he chose to tee up Nacho Monreal whose cross was blocked.
After Ozil had lashed a shot just wide off the mark, Ramsey and Giroud connected well to instigate an attack but the final ball from Ramsey didn’t match his French teammate’s expectations. Shortly afterwards, Moussa Sissoko went all Messi on the Arsenal defense but his effort was blasted over the bar.
Arsenal broke the deadlock when Laurent Koscielny latched on to a Santi Cazorla cross to fire the ball past Tim Krul. It had the same Shaolin soccer style of last season but Arsenal fans didn’t care. Podolski had another half chance that was saved but Newcastle almost got an equalizer when Cheick Tiote blasted a shot that was smothered by Szczesny. Ozil’s deft touch to Bacary Sagna saw the fullback surge forward before crossing a ball that was blocked before it reached Giroud’s path.
Giroud had the chance to make it two but after he went sent clean on goal, he blasted the ball straight at Krul before firing another shot that deflected off Krul to Ozil’s path. With such a gift coming on a platter, the German schemer graciously accepted it, blasting the ball into an unguarded net.
Ozil then chose to wow the crowd with a magnificent piece of individual skill, leaving poor ol’ Gouffran to eat his dust.
Santi Cazorla had a chance to make it three but he blasted his effort over the bar. This season, the goals haven’t flowed for the Spanish magician as his last goal for the club came in the 2-2 draw against Southampton, a period when he was going through a purple patch of goalscoring form.
Koscielny lurked on the blind side of the Newcastle defense but his tame shot was some way off his intended target. On the other end, Remy teed up Gouffran that saw off the challenge of Koscielny before blasting his shot straight at Szczesny. Arsenal hit the final nail in Newcastle’s coffin when Ramsey threaded a neat ball to Ozil that wasted no time in lofting a cross for Giroud. The Frenchman obliged with a good header that left Krul for dead.
Ozil was pulling all the strings in midfield and he cushioned a pass for Podolski that was hit with a first-timed shot but the ball sailed wide off the mark. The manager chose to bring on the experienced heads of Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini for Ozil and Ramsey. At the death, Yaya Sanogo replaced Giroud. The French lad almost had a chance to score his maiden Arsenal goal but the offside flag spared Newcastle’s blushes.
Late on, there was a penalty claim for Rosicky that fell on deaf ears and Arteta fashioned a chance for Monreal that was fired straight at the goalie, while Sanogo was free. Podolski’s rebound hit the roof of the net.
This victory puts Arsenal in pole position for Champions League qualification at the expense of Everton, that have put up a good fight all season long. Credit to Roberto Martinez for proving his worth in a better team than Wigan. Lest I forget,
Bonus Reading: Ranking the Last 18 St. Totteringham’s Days by James McNicholas of Bleacher Report.
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