Sunday, February 6, 2011

Premier League - Arsenal blow four-goal lead at Newcastle!!!

Newcastle produced the story of the season so far as they came from four goals down at half-time to draw 4-4 with Arsenal in the Premier League at St James' Park!!!

A rampant Arsenal destroyed Newcastle inside the opening 45 minutes: they were in front after only 42 seconds thanks to Theo Walcott, while before three minutes were up Johan Djourou had made it two. Robin van Persie added further strikes in the 10th and 26th minutes.
In the second period Abou Diaby was sent off following an incident with Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan and the game was less open after that with the Gunners seemingly content to hold on to their four-goal cushion.
However they were unable to do so, Barton sticking away a pair of penalty kicks either side of a Leon Best finish - and Cheik Tiote dramatically sealed the comeback with a stonking volley from almost 30 yards with three minutes of normal time to play.
The result means Manchester United can move seven points clear of the Gunners should they win early this evening against Wolves - and Arsene Wenger's side will not have a game in hand at the end of the day.
From the kick-off Arsenal looked for short, precise passes despite facing a congested Newcastle midfield. They were rewarded almost immediately as Diaby's pass inside to Andrei Arshavin took a deflection to put Walcott through on goal, and he slipped a casual finish into the bottom corner past Steve Harper.
With only 2:45 on the clock it was two. Russian playmaker Arshavin, by his own admission suffering from a crisis of confidence on the field of play, bent a lovely free-kick into the penalty area for Swiss centre-half Djourou to head in off the crossbar.
The Toon showed signs of coming back into the match, with captain Nolan unlucky to see a low cross cleared by Diaby, but conceded a sucker-punch third only 10 minutes in.
Walcott - who caused mayhem down the right flank throughout the opening half - pulled back low for Netherlands striker van Persie, eight yards out, to sweep home halfway up the goal with his right foot.
The waves of attacks kept coming, with Spain star Cesc Fabregas - the orchestrator of so much of Arsenal's best play - forcing a near-post block from Harper after controlling Jack Wilshere's flicked ball inside.
Two minutes later they had their fourth, Bacary Sagna delivering a pin-point cross from close to the right-hand corner flag for Van Persie to nod emphatically inside the near post.
Walcott's damaging runs should have produced further goals, but the home defence managed to keep him at bay despite seeming all at sea. By contrast the away back four looked at ease even when stretching to clear in the box.
Van Persie shot over when a raking Fabregas ball put him through on the left and the Dutchman could have made it five in the dying seconds of the half, Harper turning his effort behind following good work by Wilshere.
To the second act.
In the dressing room Newcastle boss Alan Pardew must surely have pointed to the need to stay tight in the opening moments, and his side did just that. However without the sending off, it would surely have been a case of damage limitation.
An injured Djourou was withdrawn early on for Sebastien Squillaci and moments later came Diaby's moment of madness.
He was caught late by Barton after getting rid of the ball; it was a hard tackle, but did not necessitate the Frenchman's reaction: he got hold of the back of the midfielder's neck and pushed him to the ground before also pushing a furious Nolan in the back. Phil Dowd did not hesitate in brandishing the red card.
The fans - some of whom seemed to exit the ground after the fourth goal went in, although that cannot be said for certain - were galvanised and their side responded.
Best almost hooked home from a few yards out then Danny Simpson raced clear only to see Poland keeper Wojciech Szczesny - so solid in the first half - pull off a reaction save.
Wenger seemed to be having kittens on the touchline: it was almost as if he knew what was coming. However no one in their right mind would have put money on anything but an Arsenal win at 4-0 up with 22 minutes left.
The first penalty was given away by Koscielny, who challenged Best from behind while near the corner of the six-yard box. It looked harsh, but he did try to get to the ball through the striker's legs. Barton stepped up and placed his kick low into the bottom corner.
Szczesny was unfortunate to be booked for holding on to the ball as Nolan and Barton sought to knock it away from him, but far worse was to follow.
Having saved brilliantly from Mike Williamson in the 73rd minute, he was shortly after unable to stop Best firing home on the turn; he was flagged offside despite substitute Tomas Rosicky clearly playing him on from left-back.
The former Coventry striker was not to be denied a minute later, getting a second bite at a Jose Enrique cross and finishing low past the keeper.
Nile Ranger had come on for Peter Lovenkrands and Newcastle, clearly missing Liverpool signing Andy Carroll and the injured Shola Ameobi in an impotent first half, suddenly looked world beaters.
Szczesny saved from Ranger as he drove in from the left and also nicked a ball off his feet as he got in behind again, while Best should have done better than head over while free 10 yards out.
The second penalty arrived with seven minutes left, Rosicky pushing over Williamson as a Barton free-kick arrowed to the far post. The playmaker, brilliant at times and the most instrumental player to their comeback, hit a poor penalty down the middle - Szczesny's trailing foot caught the ball but it found the top of the goal.
Barton was denied a clear free-kick on the right but won one a minute later when Rosicki bundled him over. The Czech hardly covered himself in glory during his 21 minutes on the pitch, especially seeing as they coincided with the start of the home comeback.
The Barton set-piece was headed clear but the danger was not over: Tiote lurked 30 yards out and met the ball on the volley with such force that Szczesny was left floundering as it flew into the corner.
St James' went nuts and was almost treated to a sensational winner when Nolan hit a first-time shot just wide from a Ranger nod back in the first minute of five added on.
There could have been a final twist when Van Persie hit a deflected strike in off the bar in the 94th minute; he was denied by the offside flag despite appearing level when pulling away from the defender.
The most memorable Premier League game for years ended to jubilation in the stands - many of those present will have thought back to those 4-3 clashes with Liverpool in the Nineties and been glad to this time see their team come out of the experience with something to show for it.

Jonathan Symcox / Eurosport

No comments:

Post a Comment