Premier League - Vermaelen grabs late win for Arsenal
Thomas Vermaelen’s 95th-minute strike sealed a 2-1 victory for Arsenal over Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium in a thrilling Premier League clash.
Newcastle had gone ahead through Hatem Ben Arfa's impressive strike after 14 minutes, but had that advantage cancelled out less than 60 seconds later when Robin van Persie struck his 26th league goal of the campaign.
The Gunners rained down chances in a game they dominated, particularly in the second half, but for all their pressure they looked destined to be held to a draw.
But Vermaelen popped up late at the far post to seal the Gunners’ fourth straight come-from-behind victory in the top flight – a Premier League record – and continue the north London club’s resurgence.
The Gunners got off to a blistering start, with Theo Walcott immediately looking dangerous down the right hand side.
Arsenal surged down the other end, and Walcott’s inviting cross for Van Persie, one of countless he laid on, was narrowly missed by the Dutchman.
But despite the home side’s pressure, it was the visitors who struck first, taking full advantage when Chiek Tiote intercepted a sloppy Vermaelen pass.
Newcastle’s joy was short-lived, however, with Tomas Rosicky, Walcott and Van Persie combining in style to equalise.
Walcott’s low cross was controlled expertly by the Dutchman, who gave himself a little room and drilled a low shot beyond Tim Krul.
Newcastle remained a threat on the break for the rest of the half, though it was the home side who had the better of the play. Walcott came closest to giving the Gunners a half-time lead, but the England international did not get enough behind his goal-bound effort 44 minutes in.
In the second half Arsenal fashioned one chance after another, but every time they came close, the Magpies somehow found a way to survive.
Van Persie fired a shot from close range straight at Krul, then tested the keeper a couple of minutes from an acute angle after a delightful through ball from Rosicky.
Rosicky himself missed perhaps the best chance of the match after being played in by the excellent Walcott, sidefooting wide when it appeared easier to score.
Van Persie went close again, substitute Gervinho scuffed a gilt-edged chance wide from just six yards, and Vermaelen had a glancing header cleared at the far post as the minutes ticked away.
With so many near-misses it looked as if Newcastle would hold on for a valuable draw, but a counter-attack the length of the field meant that, just as they had done last week at Anfield, Arsenal had turned one point into three in time added on.
The tension bubbled over at the end, with a spat between Dutch duo Van Persie and Krul bringing play to a halt and forcing referee Howard Webb to book both players - but it did not dampen the Arsenal celebrations after a fifth straight win in the top flight.