Newcastle United 0 v Arsenal 4

Arsenal stormed into the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup with a devastating 4-0 win over Newcastle at St. James Park. Out of the blocks from the first minute, it was surprising given the amount of Gunners’ possession that the opener came in first half time added on and with more than a touch of fortune about it. Geordies’ keeper’ Tim Krull was awarded the own goal as he came under pressure from Laurent Koscielny and the young Craig Eastmond.

Second

Theo Walcott slotted in the Gunners’ second, with a Nicklas Bendtner beauty of a third strike into the Krull’s net in the top right hand corner. Two minutes before time, Walcott notched his second of the night and sixth of the season, racing onto substitute Cesc Fabregas’ pass. One bit of bad news for Arsenal as Kieran Gibbs was replaced by Bacary Sagna on 19 minutes with a knee injury that Arsene Wenger accepted could prove to be serious.

Effective

Having dumped Spurs out in the last round with a side that consisted of both experience and youth, Wenger elected to repeat the procedure and to good effect too against a overly defensive Newcastle.

He made nine changes from the side that won so comfortably at Eastlands, having a look at the Koscienly, Johan Djourou central defensive partnership that proved to be so effective. Behind that pairing, 20 year ‘keeper old Wojciech Szczesny got a first start, and his performance between the sticks suggests that Wenger may have been right about his goalkeepers all along.

Lukasz Fabianski sat on the bench and he must have been pleased that his fellow Pole played so well and at such a high level. With the scores goal less Szczesny let fly to deny a 25 yard shot from Alan Smith for a fingertip save that spoke volumes about his ability.

Opener

Carlos Vela had gone close early on, but Krull held firm as he did from Emmanuel Eboue. The Gunners were threatening to run riot, but the home side held firm and then began to formulate their own attacks. Koscielny was on hand to deny the lively Nile Ranger when Szczesny made the only error of judgement of the night, with Bendtner going close but hitting the side netting on 37 minutes.

The Dane and Denilson exhanged passes for an opening that fell kindly for Krull, but his next involvement was to result in the opnener. The Holland ‘keeper failed the collect the ball, and under pressure from Kocielny and Eastmond, Ryan Taylor’s headed clearance hit the head on Krull and over the line.

Chip

Arsenal doubled their advantage eigth minutes after the re-start. Walcott raced clear to exquisitely chip Krull as Bendtner and Mike Williamson collided. Looking comfortable and with 20 minutes remaining, Wenger sent of Fabregas for Vela and the Arsenal captain was soon in the thick of the action. Djourou had intercepted well as Andy Caroll lurched behind and Szczesny demonstrated brave goalkeeping at the feet of Taylor. With seven minutes remaining, Arsenal scored a third.

Fire

Fabregas intercepted a Newcastle throw, fed Bendtner who raced to coolly strike majestically with his right foot, giving Krull no chance.Four minutes from time and Szczesny was alert to Taylor’s free-kick that Eboue cleared, and it was the 88th minute when the Gunners got a fourth. Koscielny cleared out, and Walcott latched onto the ball to fire past Krull. To their credit, Newcastle stayed true to attacking too, but substitute Joey Barton can count himself lucky to have remained on the pitch after his two reckless lunges on Eastmond and Fabregas. Wenger knows that four more wins and the Carling Cup will be his and Arsenal’s.

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