Monday, March 12, 2012

Arsenal 2 - Newcastle 1

Vermaelen scored nearly 5 minutes into stoppage time to give the Gunners the victory at the death. Newcastle had taken the lead in the first half, against the run of play. It took van Persie only 53 seconds to restore the balance, with a tricky touch in the box that sent the Newcastle defender the wrong way. RvP had almost played himself out of a shot but managed to slot the ball past the keeper into the goal.

The second half was much like the first. Arsenal dominated possession, and Newcastle defended well, looking for opportunities on the break. As the half wore on, and into extra time, the temperature rose. Van Persie and his international colleague Krul got into a shouting and shoving match. The game seemed destined to end in an ill-tempered tie. Instead, it ended in an ill-tempered Arsenal victory as the Gunners hit Newcastle hard on a break; Vermaelen sprinted the length of the field to arrive in exactly the right place at precisely the right time to pounce on a cross played into the box by Theo Walcott. In the aftermatch, van Persie and Krul both received the yellow cards both players richly deserved.

The game shouldn't really have been close at the end; the Gunners squandered at least three chances, where missing seemed harder than scoring. Nevertheless, it was an excellent team performance. For once, it's hard to pick out any Arsenal player who did not play hard and well.

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