Red-hot Arsenal gun down Newcastle

Arsenal roared back to form after their stuttering start to the season by crushing Newcastle 3-0 on Saturday.

updated: September 03, 2008 08:17 IST
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Arsenal roared back to form after their stuttering start to the season by crushing Newcastle 3-0 on Saturday.

A brace from Robin van Persie and a beautifully crafted third by Denilson handed Arsene Wenger's side a convincing triumph, although the scoreline could have been far more emphatic had visiting goalkeeper Shay Given not enjoyed an inspired afternoon.

Even so, this was a welcome tonic for Wenger, who had been unusually critical of his young side in the wake of their limp defeat to Fulham last week.

The Frenchman was also cheered by a bravura performance from striker Emmanuel Adebayor, which restored his standing among Arsenal fans following his close-season dalliances with Milan and Barcelona.

For Newcastle, it was a chastening match which served to deflate much of the optimism which had been generated by an unbeaten start to the season.

Wenger had demanded a fast start from his charges after their doziness last week had effectively gifted Fulham the initiative and he was not disappointed.

Arsenal began as if determined to banish the memories of their limp capitulation at Craven Cottage and Newcastle, for all the optimism generated by their unbeaten start to the season, were quickly subjected to suffocating pressure.

The hosts were howling for a penalty after just three minutes when van Persie tumbled under a challenge from Fabricio Coloccini. It appeared a certain foul, but referee Rob Styles awarded just a corner.

Wenger looked decidedly unimpressed in the home dug-out and his mood was hardly improved when William Gallas somehow spooned over from a yard after Kolo Toure had flicked on at the near post.

Toure duly took matters into his own hands. The Ivory Coast defender, who has developed a useful knack of attacking from deep positions, embarked on a typical buccaneering run and crunched a fierce right-footed drive towards the bottom corner.

Only Given's fingertips kept Newcastle level but the visitors' luck did not hold.

In the 18th minute, Adebayor surged past Charles N'Zogbia and clipped a cross into the area. The French midfielder, back-pedalling desperately, stuck out an arm to block the ball and this time Arsenal's appeals could not be ignored.

Van Persie swept regally into the right-hand corner from 12 yards, and Arsenal were ahead.

Given was again called into action in the 31st minute when he saved well from van Persie's fizzing free-kick but the Irishman should have been given no chance six minutes later when Adebayor burst on to van Persie's pass. The Togolese had time to pick his spot but shot wastefully wide.

He soon made amends. Another barn-storming run caused mayhem down the right and a slipped pass teed up Emmanuel Eboue.

The Ivory Coast international lost his footing as he tried to control the ball but still showed enough poise to back-heel into the path of van Persie, who smashed in with glee.

Newcastle were grateful to only trail by two goals at the interval, although they did pose a sporadic threat. Michael Owen saw one shot diverted wide by his strike partner, Shola Ameobi, while Nicky Butt clattered the crossbar with a flying header.

But Arsenal's win was assured when a slick move involving Samir Nasri, Denilson and Adebayor was capped by a fine finish from the Brazilian midfielder.

Newcastle somehow avoided further punishment, although Joey Barton, making his first appearance since his release from jail, was involved in a spat with Nasri that led Keegan to berate the Gunners player at the final whistle.