Swinging the shift of power in North London back in their favour, Arsenal are now hot on the heels of local rivals Tottenham Hotspur after this exciting 2-1 victory over Newcastle United at the Emirates on Monday 12th March 2012. Proving just how one game can turn around a team’s fortunes and rejuvenate a side, Arsenal have enjoyed a string of successive victories since their 5-2 defeat over Spurs – and these results have significantly narrowed the once large gap of 10 points between the two sides to just one.
Once again, the Arsene Wenger doubters have been proved wrong and judging by Arsenal’s run of great form, particularly from their star striker Robin Van Persie, Champions League qualification looks a certainty – and it might be rivals Spurs who will have to contend with Chelsea for that fourth and final Champions League spot.
In what was a fantastic open match of football, the Emirates Stadium hosted a strong contender for Game of the Season. It was Alan Pardew’s Newcastle side that drew blood first when French winger Ben Arfa found space on the right flank from a Cheik Tiote pass and fired a left foot drive past Wojciech Szczęsny’s near post to make it 0-1 to the visitors. Just moments later, in a matter of seconds, Arsenal winger Theo Walcott drove in a low cross which fell to the feet of prolific striker Robin Van Persie, who of course found the net to level it at 1-1.
This sudden reversal of fortune set the precedent for the rest of the game, as both teams enjoyed a fair share of chances. With Arsenal having one wave of attacks after another, it was the heroics and acrobatics of Newcastle ‘keeper Tim Krul that kept Pardew’s men in the game. With so many chances foiled and time ticking down, it appeared the Gunners would not get the elusive winner they were chasing. With one last-gasp throw of the dice, Arsenal put together one final attack. With the ball sent out wide to Theo Walcott, it was defender Thomas Vermaelen who ran the majority of the pitch from his own half and popped up in the box to poke home and make it 2-1 to the Gunners.
This victory, other than closing the gap on Tottenham Hotspur, heralded a steely determination to Arsenal’s play and attitude that has perhaps been absent from them as a team this season. The last-gasp goal to ensure victory had echoes of a Manchester United team about it and Arsenal fans are hopeful that Wenger’s men continue this attitude throughout the rest of this season and into the next.
For this eventful game, WinkBall reporters Alex and Dean were at the Emirates Stadium to speak to fans at the Arsenal v Newcastle game. Speaking to Arsenal fans, they were asked what they made of the Gunners recent strong form since that important victory against Spurs; with Spurs now dropping in form, would Arsenal beat their local rivals to that important third position? With star striker Robin Van Persie also enjoying the best form of his career this season, fans were asked how important the Dutchman was to their plans next season? With his future still clouded in mystery after still not signing a new contract, could they see their beloved RVP potentially leave after Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini expressed strong interest in the striker quite openly and to the vehement of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger?