Gunners collapse in eight-goal thriller
The Gunners had looked set for victory after roaring into a four-goal lead after less than half an hour. However, following Abou Diaby's red card, Alan Pardew's men regrouped to bag four second half goals and seal an amazing comeback.
The visitors began the game in some style, scoring their first goal after just over 40 seconds of the whistle. Theo Walcott found himself alone on goal after a pass through from Andrey Arsharvin and the young Englishman was able to shrug off the two Newcastle defenders and place a simple finish past Steve Harper and into the back of the net.
Just two minutes later, the visitors had doubled their lead. A free-kick from Arshavin on the left-hand side of the Newcastle box found an unmarked Johan Djourou in the centre of the area, who managed to head the ball well clear of the helpless Harper and into the top corner of the net in clinical fashion.
After a flurry of non-chances for Alan Pardew’s team, Arsenal had added another to their tally and Newcastle were all but out of the game after just 10 minutes of the match. Walcott again got himself in the mix, working his way neatly into the Newcastle box and slotting the ball into the middle behind the waiting defenders and into the feet of Robin van Persie to grab the third.
The first positive piece of play for the home side came after Peter Lovenkrands stormed down the right-side of midfield to put in an accurate ball in for the waiting attackers in the box, but Leon Best couldn’t get his header on target.
Lovely work from Jack Wilshire coming down the left-side created an unobvious chance for captain Cesc Fabregas. Wilshire dribbled his way nicely into the area and a carefully placed chip pass found the Spaniard who blasted the ball at the far post, but Harper was there to stop any chance of Arsene Wenger’s side adding yet another goal to finish the game once and for all.
However, it wasn’t long before the fourth goal was on the board for Arsenal. Bacary Sagna worked the ball effortlessly down into the far right-hand corner of Newcastle’s area to whip in a perfect ball for a once again unmarked Van Persie to head in with a powerful finish leaving Harper and his team with no chance.
Flying Dutchman | Van Persie heads home Arsenal's fourth
As a result of the visitors' dominance, Arsenal were happy to pass the ball around patiently, trying to build up their play and look for a fifth goal. Meanwhile, Newcastle could only create minimal chances, but even those were never concrete and lacked conviction, relying on the odd corner to even try and threaten the Arsenal goal.
Van Persie was hunting down his second Arsenal hat-trick and was going for every chance he could get his hands on, including an effort from a Fabregas long-ball that found the Holland international who was able to keep off his opposing defenders and strike an effort not too far off of target.
The flying Dutchman wasn’t giving up too easily and almost looked to get his hat-trick all done and dusted in the first-half of the game. Wilshire was there again as playmaker who slipped the ball in for the Dutchman and got a shot off after manoeuvring away from his marker, but Harper was once again there to halt Arsenal’s almost inevitable fifth goal.
The second-half started bitterly as Abou Diaby was sent off after a bad challenge from Joey Barton which upset the French midfielder, leading him to make his feelings known to the Newcastle man by pushing him to the ground. Kevin Nolan got himself involved in an attempt to calm the Arsenal man down, but Diaby refused to back down and pushed Nolan away, leaving Phil Dowd with only one decision.
After the dust settled, Newcastle looked for damage limitation as Danny Simpson worked his way into the Arsenal area and was able to blast a shot at goal, but Wojciech Szczesny was able to pull off a fantastic save that denied any sort of consolation for the Magpies.
Pardew’s men were able to bring one back on 66 minutes after Laurent Koscielny brought down Best in the area to give the home side a penalty. Joey Barton stepped for the kick and slotted the ball into the left side of Szczesny’s net, giving the keeper no chance.
After a controversially disallowed goal from Best, the striker came back to claim Newcastle’s second in what appeared to be a great fightback from the home side. A struggle in the box left the striker with the ball at his disposal and struck his shot firmly into the back of the net from close range.
The Magpies took full advantage of Arsenal’s missing man and began to create numerous chances, most of which were from set-pieces. But it was another penalty that gave the St James’ faithful hope. Barton was there again to power the ball home from the spot to be within just one goal of their opponents.
An amazing comeback was finished with a cracking volleyed effort from 25 yards out from Tiote. A free-kick from the right-side was cleared but only as far as the Newcastle man and the Ivorian thumped home a stunning finish to complete an incredible comeback.
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