English Premiership

Arsenal thump Newcastle

2014-12-13 21:46
Santi Cazorla (AP)

London - From the perspective of the overwhelming pro-Wenger majority Arsenal's dazzling 4-1 victory over Newcastle United in the Premier League on Saturday was emphatic proof of their mantra "In Arsene We Trust".

Everywhere you looked at a chilly Emirates Stadium, whether at the artistry of Alexis Sanchez, the magnetic ball control of Santi Cazorla or the old-fashioned striking prowess of Olivier Giroud, there was something to marvel at.

Giroud scored twice, as did Cazorla on his 30th birthday, and the Gunners could have had plenty more against an obliging Newcastle side unrecognisable from that which inflicted a first defeat of the season on league leaders Chelsea last weekend.

In Arsenal's last home game before Christmas, their Chile forward Sanchez provided several party pieces that would have been toasted in the local hostelries on the Holloway Road.

His precision cross for Giroud's 15th minute opener simply begged the big Frenchman to power a header past Newcastle's third-choice goalkeeper, 21-year-old Jak Alnwick who was making only his second competitive appearance for the club.

The striker's threaded pass to Cazorla for the second goal was that of a man who sees the game with a clarity few possess.

In between there was an outrageous dummy in midfield and a lobbed pass to Danny Welbeck that golfer Phil Mickelson would have been proud of - ruined only by Welbeck volleying wide.

Diehard Arsenal fan Brian Harris, who has seen the good times ebb and flow in nearly 70 years of supporting the north London club, was no doubt joining in the chant of "Only One Arsene Wenger" with five minutes remaining.

He was at Stoke City the previous week when Arsenal showed their other, flimsy side, going 3-0 down before rallying to lose 3-2 - a defeat that led to anti-Wenger banners being displayed and the long-serving Frenchman verbally abused after the game.

"Who is there to take his place?" Harris said as he walked towards the magnificent stadium now virtually paid for courtesy of Wenger guiding his side into the lucrative Champions League year after year since taking over in 1996.

"The trouble is a lot of the younger fans have only been used to a lot of success. I went 19 years before I saw us lift a trophy... that's the difference. They don't have any patience.

"It will come again but you have to put up with it."

Yet despite the feelgood factor sweeping the stadium, there were still a few telltale signs of the soft centre that explains why Arsenal are sixth, 13 points behind Chelsea, and all but out of the title race before Christmas.

Newcastle's Ayoze Perez scored the most basic of goals after 63 minutes, finding space to glance in a header, and for 10 minutes Arsenal's nerves were a little frayed.

"At 3-1 the ghost of Anderlecht was there a little bit," Wenger told reporters, referring to a recent Champions League capitulation when Arsenal surrendered a three-goal lead to draw.

There was no repeat of that this time and Cazorla's cheeky penalty sent the faithful home happy leaving the dissenters to disappear into the shadows.


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