Arsenal pair at the double to seal victory against Newcastle
PUBLISHED: 19:26 13 December 2014 | UPDATED: 19:31 13 December 2014
Arsenal 4 Newcastle Utd 1
Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla both hit braces to get Arsenal’s Premier League campaign back on track with a comfortable win over Newcastle.
Giroud headed the Gunners into a 15th-minute lead and Cazorla marked his 30th birthday in style with a classy finish to make it 2-0 before the French striker netted again soon afterwards.
Although the Geordies pulled a goal back through Ayoze Perez, Cazorla sealed the points with a late penalty after Danny Welbeck had been pulled down in the box.
Arsenal began at a canter and might have taken the lead on eight minutes when Per Mertesacker met Cazorla’s corner with a back-header that sailed over the outstretched arm of Jak Alnwick, but struck the crossbar.
However, the opening goal was only another seven minutes in coming as Alexis Sanchez managed to retrieve Giroud’s overhit pass and timed his floated return perfectly for the Frenchman to nod into the corner of the net.
Danny Welbeck almost made it 2-0 immediately, galloping onto a ball from Kieran Gibbs and chipping Alnwick – but he was adjudged to have hauled down Daryl Janmaat in the build-up and the goal was chalked off.
Soon afterwards, Welbeck was the beneficiary of an audacious piece of Sanchez magic as the Chilean scooped the ball through for his team-mate to volley on the turn, but the finish zipped just wide of the far post.
Sanchez also set up a chance for Cazorla before half-time, unexpectedly firing a free-kick sideways for the Spaniard to strike a first-time drive that was deflected behind.
The visitors threatened only once in the first half – but it needed a double save from Wojciech Szczesny to deny them an equaliser as he kept out Yoan Gouffran’s header at close range and then foiled Papiss Cisse from the rebound.
However, the Gunners were back on top at the start of the second period and they increased their advantage with two goals in the space of three minutes.
Sanchez scythed through the Newcastle defence to pick out the run of Cazorla, who clipped an angled left-foot finish over Alnwick.
And the home side went 3-0 up as the impressive Hector Bellerin burst down the right-hand side and delivered a low cross that Giroud steered neatly into the roof of the net.
But Newcastle reduced the deficit in the 63rd minute when Jack Colback whipped in a free-kick and Spanish youngster Perez stooped to head past Szczesny.
Cazorla and Mathieu Flamini both went close to restoring the Gunners’ three-goal cushion, while Gibbs dragged a volley into the side netting.
And Welbeck might have done better when the visitors gave away the ball in midfield to allow him a run at goal, but he delayed and Fabricio Coloccini cleared the danger.
However, Arsenal finished off on a high when referee Lee Mason ruled that Paul Dummett had hauled down Welbeck and Cazorla stepped up to score his side’s fourth with a cheeky dink from the spot.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Bellerin, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Flamini; Oxlade-Chamberlain (Maitland-Niles 90), Cazorla; Sanchez (Coquelin 86), Giroud (Podolski 73), Welbeck.