Arsenal 2 Newcastle United 1

Thomas Vermaelen struck deep into time added on to see Arsenal see off a spirited Newcastle United at the Emirates. The visitors had taken the lead though a well taken Hatem Ben Arfa strike, but their joy lasted all of fourteen seconds until Robin Van Persie – who else- levelled on 15 minutes. From then on, there was only ever one team that had set out to win the game, and it was not the side in black and white. Consistent time wasting by the Magpies ‘keeper Tim Krul was ultimately to cost his side of taking anything from an enthralling encounter, as Vermaelen netted a deserved winner for the Gunners for a fifth consecutive Premiership win in.

The victory will taste all the sweeter for the Gunners, with the three points taking Arsene Wenger’s men to within one point of third placed Spurs and also creating a three point gap from fifth placed Chelsea. It was a Premiership record fourth time that Arsenal had recovered from going at least a goal behind to win, and a record 19 points have been gleaned in such circumstances this season. Van Persie has now netted 44 goals from 46 games, and an amazing 28th goal in the Premiership alone.

After United’s delaying tactics frustration with their ‘keeper was evident early on, and that manifested itself with Van Persie exchanging views with his Holland team mate, which Krull evidently took exception to. Demba Ba has been in good form for Newcastle, and had a sharp chance early on, and with their next foray, the visitors took a shock lead. Vermaelen lost possession, with Cheick Tiote finding room in midfield. With space on the right, Ben Arfa drove and cut back before drilling a low shot past Wojciech Szczesny at his near post.

The Gunners should have actually fired themselves into an early lead, but Theo Walcott’s cross zipped past the advancing Van Persie too quickly for him to connect. Van Persie was being given a lot of attention by the Magpies’ defence, but they were never really going to keep him quiet.

Tomas Rosicky was enjoying another night of football of the highest order, and the Emirates crowd rose to expectation whenever he got on the ball. When the Czech captain fed Walcott racing away on the right, the danger was obvious. The England forward crossed, and after two classy, clinical touches, that put Mike Williamson on the deck Van Persie struck a fierce low shot that was too good for Krull.

Everything that the Gunners were creating came through Walcott on the right, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain having to commit to a more defensive duty as cover for Kieran Gibbs. Two minutes after taking the lead, and another classy move should have seen Arsenal double their lead. Mikel Arteta, Rosicky and Walcott combined, and the Premiership’s leading goal scorer let fly, but the ball was always rising.

A couple of nasty studs up challenges involving Ba on Vermaelen and Tiote on Rosicky threatened to disrupt what was a well fought contest, but the away side showed a lack of ambition and seemed happy to return north with a battling point.

Five minutes after the re-start and Walcott’s cross was headed well by Rosicky, but not beyond Krull. Oxlade- Chamberlain then let fly with a dipping shot that flew just wide as Arsenal stepped up their search for a winner. After seeing Walcott get the better of his defender, Alan Pardew decided replace Davide Santon with James Perch, and that was only marginally better for the visitors’ defence.

Arteta tried to create the opportunity for an Arsenal second, but Van Persie saw his shot directly hit Krull on 55 minutes. Three minutes later and this time Van Persie crossed, but Krull saved with his legs to keep the scores at 1-1. With his first run of the night, Oxlade-Chamberlain beat two defenders, and did everything but score as the Gunners ramped up the pressure another notch.

Rosicky then went close after a neat move with Walcott, but Newcastle although electing not to attack kept the Gunners at bay nevertheless. Sensing the need for fresh legs, Wenger sent on Gervinho for Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey for the tiring Rosicky. Van Persie flashed just wide, and with five minutes remaining, Krull saved from Vermaelen. The Belgian however was not to be denied.

Walcott appealed for a penalty after Fabricio Coloccinni saw the ball strike his arm, but Howard Webb did not concur. Five minutes of time added on were flashed for the Emirates faithful, and they roared the Gunners to go for the win. Newcastle were advancing in a game rarity, and having won possession, Van Persie started the move. In a matter of seconds, Walcott found himself out on the right again,and this time, with Van Perise and Ramsey challenging for the header,the ball fell for the deeply advanced Vermaelen to bravely strike the winner that saw the red half of north London erupt with sheer elation.