Gunners move in on Champions League spot as Newcastle slump to another defeat
Published 28/04/2014 | 22:01
Arsenal closed in on another shot at Champions League qualification with a 3-0 win over Newcastle to inflict a sixth straight defeat on under-pressure manager Alan Pardew, who returned to the dugout following a lengthy touchline ban.
The Gunners are now four points ahead of Everton in the race to secure a top-four finish, with just two matches remaining, as club-record signing Mesut Ozil delivered an inspired display, scoring one and creating another.
Newcastle, though, continue their slide down the Barclays Premier League following another lacklustre display - which left the 2,000-strong travelling support venting their anger on Pardew, whose long-term future is in doubt.
Arsenal showed the greater intent during the opening stages, with an angled drive from Ozil bouncing just wide before Laurent Koscielny stabbed in a deep free-kick from Santi Cazorla on 26 minutes.
Newcastle briefly rallied, but were soon chasing the game again and fell further behind three minutes before half-time when Ozil swept home after Olivier Giroud twice had shots blocked by busy keeper Tim Krul.
The visitors had a great chance to reduce the arrears just before the hour when Yoan Gouffran sprinted clear, but Wojciech Szczesny was out quickly to save.
Arsenal moved 3-0 ahead on 66 minutes when Ozil's inch-perfect cross was headed in by Olivier Giroud.
The massed ranks of the Toon Army had endured enough and turned on their manager, whose relationship with the hardiest of supporters is now strained at best.
Arsenal, though, look all set to finish in the Champions League places again as they chase a place at Europe's top table for a remarkable 17 straight campaigns ahead of their FA Cup final date with Hull at Wembley.