Arsenal end the year in Style
Written By: Robert Halter
Two days before the start of the New Year, Arsenal saw off 2012 with the visit of Newcastle United to the Emirates Stadium. The Magpies threatened on sixteen minutes, when from Sylvain Marveaux’s corner, Demba Ba put his header over the top. But it was the Gunners that got the breakthrough on twenty minutes as from a Lukas Podolski ball inside his own half, Theo Walcott broke the Newcastle offside trap and raced clean through before firing the ball into the bottom right corner from a tight angle left side of goal, Arsenal were up and running. On thirty seven minutes, Podolski cleared the way for Walcott once again but this time Walcott was unable to find a way past a strong block by Magpies keeper Tim Krul. It took a long range blast by Cheick Tiote to test the Gunners shot stopper Wojciech Szczesny for the first time but his strike was palmed over the bar with five minutes of normal time remaining in the first half. A needless foul by Bacary Sagna on Gabriel Obertan gave Newcastle a route back into the game on forty four minutes and the Gunners were made to punish from Demba Ba’s free kick which took a wicked deflection off the back of Wilshere, who was standing on the outside of the wall, as Szczesny was left stranded as the ball rocketed into the net. A solid stop by Szczesny from a strong shot by Marveaux at distance, prevented Newcastle scoring again in first half stoppage time as the Magpies ended the half strongly when Demba Ba put a header over from Marveaux’s corner. Three minutes into the re-start, Kieran Gibbs could have re-instated Arsenal’s lead but from the left side of the area, Krul pulled off a vital save for the Magpies. Although the Gunners did not have to wait long to be back on the score sheet, just a further three minutes as Santi Cazorla spread the ball out to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose low long range drive found the bottom left corner to put Arsenal back in pole position. But the Magpies again levelled proceedings on fifty nine minutes, when Obertan cut the ball back from the left by line and with the cruellest of deflections off Laurent Koscielny, it left a gapping goal for Marveaux, who rolled the ball into an empty net. It was back to the drawing board for Arsenal and within two minutes the Gunners were back on attack but Cazorla’s measured strike brought off a save by Krul. Once again the Gunners showed their character to go 3-2 ahead on sixty four minutes, when Wilshere cut the ball back from the left side of the box and as Krul then impeded by his own captain Fabricio Coloccini, who turned the ball against the crossbar, leaving Podolski with the easiest of tasks of heading the ball in, just in front of the goal line. The drama continued as Newcastle fought back once again in the sixty ninth minute, when Marveaux floated the ball into the far post and Demba Ba drove forward to put the ball into the bottom right corner with a low footed volley. It was pure theatre as Arsenal once again rose to the challenge to go 4-3 in front, as a Gibbs cross from the left side found Walcott, who on the turn rifled the ball into the roof of the net in the seventy third minute. Aaron Ramsey set up Walcott for a hat trick opportunity in the eighty fourth minute but this time Walcott struck his drive narrowly wide. But it was Olivier Giroud that put the game out of reach for Newcastle with four minutes of normal time remaining as Walcott put over a cross from the right side and Giroud’s flying header went through Krul’s legs. A weaving run by Walcott paved the way for Giroud to make the score 6-3 to Arsenal on eighty eight minutes as Giroud with a firm strike hammered his shot past Krul. When David Santon hacked down Giroud, Walcott combined with Wilshere for a short free kick, before Walcott darted into the area and after dropping to the floor, came up again to turn the ball into the net to complete a memorable hat trick in stoppage time before the left crossbar prevented Giroud completing his hat trick at the end from a well placed pass by Ramsey, although the Gunners ended the year toasting a 7-3 success.