Ozil On Song as Arsenal Seal Europe Berth - The New Indian Express

Ozil On Song as Arsenal Seal Europe Berth

Published: 29th April 2014 08:21 AM

Last Updated: 29th April 2014 08:21 AM

Arsenal 3 Newcastle 0

Newcastle United's livid supporters could have been forgiven for accusing some of their players of downing tools even before the Tube workers did last night. An impressively large crowd gathered at the Emirates Stadium, making light of the strike that started at 9pm, as Arsenal suffered no disruption to their pursuit of the fourth Champions League place.

With two games remaining, Arsenal are four points clear of fifth-placed Everton and a 17th successive season in Europe's elite competition looks all but assured. They were so comfortable in taking these three points, partly because Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil were so good going forward, causing Newcastle no end of problems.

However, Newcastle were so poor; only their keeper, Tim Krul, emerged with much credit, doing well to be beaten by only Laurent Koscielny, Ozil and Olivier Giroud. Newcastle fans chanted their dissatisfaction, and many expressed their desire for Alan Pardew for leave after a sixth defeat on the spin and only 10 Premier League goals in 2014.

Arsene Wenger's side were so in control that their Twitter feed described events late on as being "exhibition stuff now". Newcastle fans showed their defiance in dif-ferent ways, some removing their shirts, others chanting "you're -nothing special, Tottenham scored four" and that was at St James' Park.

Yet there were some special touches from Arsenal, including a wonderful touch from Ozil to elude Yoan Gouffran. There was a returning sense of confidence to Arsenal, whose fans were singing in praise of Cazorla and company by the end and looking forward to the FA Cup final at Wembley. Pardew's failure to lead Newcastle on an FA Cup run, losing at home against Cardiff City in the third round, has not been forgiven or forgotten.

The team were never in danger in the Premier League, ensconced in mid-table, meaning the fans craved a Cup run even more for some excitement. Wenger has secured his main objective of the season, a return to the Champions League, but only victory in the Cup final can make this a truly successful season for Arsenal.

This was largely straightforward for Arsenal, particularly with Ramsey and Ozil showing why they had been so missed. Goals from Koscielny and Ozil were the least that Arsenal had deserved after some early sparring. Conceding two goals was the least some Newcastle players deserved for a lacklustre showing. Newcastle would have turned around further behind but for the athletic Krul.

For the 2,000 away fans to the right of Krul it was a deeply frustrating sight, watching their team's lack of marking and, at times, commitment. There were increasing shows of dissent towards Pardew, including a couple of banners saying "Pardew Out" and "Next Excuse Pardew?" Otherwise, they could have been forgiven for leaving early.

Slow initially, Arsenal soon accelerated, looking like they wanted to get the game settled before the Tube closed. Ozil and Cazorla began combining on the right and in the centre, looking to unlock Newcastle's five-man midfield and four-strong back-line. Ramsey and Giroud exchanged passes in a quickfire break but Newcastle's defence was holding. Cazorla swerved a cross in, Krul leapt ahead of Koscielny to punch clear but it fell to Ozil. The German showed wonderful technique in meeting the ball first time, sending it fractionally wide of Krul's left-hand upright. Arsenal were getting closer to scoring. Newcastle's defence was slowly opening up.

Pardew was back in the dug-out after his seven-game ban, being greeted back by a smiling Wenger. Pardew had shaped his team up in 4-4-1-1 formation with Dan Gosling pushing on in support of Loic Remy, the pacey striker on loan from Queens Park Rangers who has been linked with a summer move to Arsenal.

Vurnon Anita and Cheick Tiote were holding for Newcastle, having to contend with Ramsey's surges, although Tiote did briefly find time for a run after 20 minutes, knocking the ball past Per Mertesacker but curling his shot high and wide.

Yoan Gouffran and Moussa Sissoko started wide, Sissoko soon being booked for pushing Giroud over after 26 minutes, opening the way to goal for Arsenal. It proved an expensive mistake. Cazorla lifted the ball in at speed over the Newcastle defensive line that had a touch of the shambolic about it. Sissoko compounded his earlier error by failing to track Koscielny, who timed his arrival well, meeting the ball with a touch that took it past Krul.

Koscielny's celebration brought him a booking, that infuriating rule that needs scrapping. Arsenal quickly began looking for another goal to celebrate. Krul did brilliantly to push away a Lukas Podolski header from Cazorla's corner.

Tiote reminded Arsenal there was still life in the visitors, powering in a curling 30-yarder that Wojciech Szczesny but Arsenal scored a second just before the interval. Pardew was out of his seat, com-plaining that Giroud was offside as he collected possession and advanced down the right. Mathieu Debuchy played Giroud on. On Giroud went, cutting into the box, betraying a lack of conviction with two strikes straight at Krul, who saved. But the ball continued on to Ozil, who was offside. Neil Swarbrick, the referee, saw nothing wrong and Ozil calmly placed the ball home. It could have been 3-0 at the break. Ozil again paraded the deftness of touch by spiriting the ball past Goffran. Krul prevented an even more dispirited mood spreading across the visiting fans by keeping out Cazorla's drilled shot.

Arsenal fans were entertained at half-time by some replaying of old FA??Cup final songs. They were soon entertained by some skills, including an Ozil run that took him deep into Newcastle territory. There was some brief entertainment for the Newcastle fans when Remy, controlling the ball elegantly, played Gouffran through. He sped away from Koscielny but shot straight at Szczesny.

After 66 minutes, Newcastle fans bordered on open revolt. Arsenal cut through again, good work from Ramsey sending Ozil down the inside-left channel. Ozil swept the ball across and Giroud finished with a powerful header. "It's six in a row, it's six in a row, Alan Pardew, it's six in a row," the Newcastle fans chanted as they collapsed again.

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