Arsenal 2 Newcastle United 1: Lessons from a last-gasp victory
What did we learn from Arsenal's late 2-1 win over Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night?
Gritty Gunners leave it late
Arsenal seemed destined for disappointment after a frustrating night in north London – but they eventually reaped the rewards of a resilient performance in the 94th minute. Thomas Vermaelen’s surged up-field and found himself in enough space to meet Theo Walcott’s cross and fire a superb right-footed finish past Tim Krul to snatch the three points. In truth, the Gunners had failed to carve out many clear-cut chances after Robin van Persie’s equaliser despite dominating proceedings at the Emirates, so the win will feel that little bit sweeter for the Arsenal supporters.
Aside from the frenetic 55 seconds that resulted in the two first-half goals, the game appeared to be petering out before Vermaelen’s last-gasp winner. Arsenal looked content to dominate possession without reward, while the visitors seemed happy to soak up any pressure and attempt to catch the Londoners on the break. Newcastle deserve credit for their battling display – their game-plan appeared set to pay dividends until late on and the Magpies can certainly feel hard done by after this defeat. And despite Arsenal’s eventual triumph, neither side were able to really find their rhythm on what was a largely frustrating evening for both sets of supporters at The Emirates.
Rosicky rightly rewarded with new deal
The Czech Republic midfielder saw his excellent recent form rewarded with a fresh two-year contract ahead of Monday’s clash – and the 31-year-old impressed once again. Rosicky, who netted the crucial third in the 5-2 comeback against Tottenham and scored again days later against AC Milan, adds some experienced creativity to the Gunners’ midfield. He continued his recent resurgence with an assured and mature performance against Alan Pardew’s men on Monday. Confident and calm in possession, the midfielder did excellently to fend off Newcastle pressure on a number of occasions, while slickly dictating proceedings from the middle of the park. If he can find a few more goals, he could yet become a mainstay in Arsenal’s midfield as he approaches the twilight of his career.
Van Persie strikes again
Where would Arsenal be without Robin van Persie? The Dutch striker has been in scintillating form this term and added his 26th league goal of the season with a typically confident left-footed finish from Theo Walcott’s cross just moments after Hatem Ben Arfa had fired Pardew’s side into the lead. The 28-year-old’s defensive contribution deserves a mention too. An aspect of his game that often goes unnoticed, he is frequently on hand to clear the danger from opponents’ set pieces. He does possess a fiery streak – the ins and outs of his altercation with Tim Krul on Monday are not clear – but it is an attribute he has done well to temper in recent seasons and Gunners fans will be hoping their captain continues to lead by example.