Arsenal survived a freakish affair at St James’ Park on Saturday.
Goals from Bendtner, Diaby and Nasri were enough to see off Newcastle 3-1 after Martins’ daring equalizer in swift response to Arsenal’s first.
It was a dynamic script from start to finish. There were goals in quick succession from both ends and even a spot-kick salvage from Almunia early on. Both sides showed resilience, but Arsenal were more renowned at it – as they have been at stealing back top four status from Villa who could stay three points behind Wenger’s men after Sunday.
The match had a fiery start distinctly controlled by Newcastle. In lesson of United and Chelsea’s unexpected defeats prior to kick-off, Wenger’s men knew they would meet a Newcastle side in giant-killing mood today.
Another scalp over a “big four” member was signaled as the home side were rewarded a penalty kick midway through the first half. Almunia was adjudged to had tangled with Ryan Taylor in attempt to grasp the ball.
Obafemi Martins stepped up to inflict, and Arsenal’s stopper made sure he didn’t. In fact, Almunia could hardly be beaten by a kick with neither placement nor power.
The Magpies tried to compensate with an immediate goal to ensure that miss did not haunt them in return. But after a series of corners and taming headers, they nearly paid the price when Andrey Arshavin – who had been bullied by Taylor – raced and smashed a shot just brushing the roof of the net.
The Russian’s tough marker Steven Taylor negated Van Persie’s goal bound effort with a block after being set-up by Bendtner in danger area. Before that, Van Persie received a chipped pass from the Dane right in the face of Harper. The Dutchman intended to cheekily flick it home, but he was denied.
Going back into the dressing room, both set of players had every reason to scratch their heads.
St James’ Park was sensing an opener from somewhere after the restart. Onto one of several Newcastle corners, Steven Taylor headed on target but Gallas was at the rescue – blocking off the line. Then on 56 minutes, Nicklas Bendtner startled the hosts by heading home Arshavin’s well delivered free-kick. Newcastle were irritated and eager to react as Bendtner received his thumbs-up.
Arsenal were merely locking up doors when Sagna headed a Newcastle throw-in back into his own territory. With pressure from Martins, Gallas could only provide a naive clearance, and his opponent pounced onto into it, poking the ball past a shell shocked Almunia.
But this was one weird contest.
Five minutes later, Van Persie exchanged passes with Diaby as the French midfielder broke into danger zone and fired Arsenal back in command. That was all today had been about and so three minutes later, Nasri emulated the trick with Van Persie the provider again.
3-1 one it was – four goals in a minimal nine minutes.
Arsenal began cruising now as Arshavin went off for Song with Wenger seeking a discipline approach to wrap the points.
Bendtner – who was later replaced by Eboue – along with Van Persie all spurned relentless openings at goal while Diaby struck the post late on with another stunning surge and drive from midfield.
Needless were any more goals after another classy job done.