Read how Arsenal closed in on a top-four Premier League finish courtesy of a 3-0 win over Newcastle at the Emirates, courtesy of Sports Mole's live text coverage.
By Joe Fish, Reporter Filed: Monday, April 28, 2014 at 19:05 UK
Last Updated: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 08:46 UK
Arsenal were hoping to capitalise on top-four rivals Everton's slip up at Southampton tonight when they welcomed Newcastle United to the Emirates Stadium.
Laurent Koscielny converted from Santi Cazorla's excellent free-kick to put the Gunners ahead on 24 minutes against a Magpies side who visited London on the back of five consecutive Premier League defeats.
Mesut Ozil got the benefit of a fortunate offside call and a kind rebound to double Arsenal's advantage before the break, with a close-range tap in for his first top-flight goal in 2014.
Newcastle hardly threatened themselves as the away fans continued to show their unhappiness with Alan Pardew's reign, and Olivier Giroud made the points secure with a 65th-minute third.
Arsene Wenger's side are now four points ahead of Everton in the race for a Champions League spot.
Below, you can read how the action unfolded, courtesy of SM's minute-by-minute coverage.
7.07pmEvening, all! Southampton have opened the door for Arsenal to put one foot into next season's Champions League with their win over Everton. Can the Gunners capitalise against Newcastle United?
7.09pmVictory over a Magpies side who are on a five-match losing run would take Arsenal four points clear of the Toffees, who host new title favourites Manchester City next week, in fourth.
7.11pmArsene Wenger has never failed to finish in the top four throughout his 17 years as Gunners boss. Six points from tonight's match, the visit of West Brom, and a trip to Norwich will maintain that record.
7.13pmNewcastle were in the top-four race themselves two seasons ago, but have performed below expectations in recent campaigns and are in danger of slipping out of the top half if recent form continues.
7.15pmTheir severe dip in results since the turn of the year has resulted in Alan Pardew's position coming under increasing scrutiny of late, but the 52-year-old will be hoping that his return to the touchline this evening following the seven-game ban that he has served will trigger a much-needed improvement.
7.17pmTeam news coming your way shortly, and news of a big return for the visitors.
7.23pmSUBS: Elliot, Haidara, Yanga-Mbiwa, S Taylor, Obertan, Armstrong, Shola Ameobi
7.25pmNewcastle's top goalscorer Loic Remy, who made his comeback from an 11-match layoff as a substitute against Swansea City, is one of three French internationals back in the Magpies XI.
7.27pmThe Queens Park Rangers loanee, who has scored 13 goals this season, will spearhead an attack which also includes Moussa Sissoko, who has not played in April due to a muscle strain.
7.29pmRemy has been linked heavily with Arsenal after admitting that he will look elsewhere when his temporary spell at St James' Park expires in the summer, with Wenger confessing that he is a fan.
7.31pmTottenham Hotspur and Everton have also reportedly shown an interest in the former Marseille forward, but Wenger will have the opportunity to scout him at close quarters this evening.
7.33pmMathieu Debuchy is the other Les Bleus representative available to Pardew again. The right-back has been on the sidelines since limping off in the 3-0 defeat to Chelsea in February.
7.35pmShola Ameobi is demoted to the Newcastle bench, while Luuk de Jong and Papiss Cisse both miss out on the squad all together due to injury as Pardew goes with a completely fresh forward line.
7.37pmArsenal are unchanged, with Aaron Ramsey selected again in central midfield. The Welshman has had a revitalising effect since returning to the Gunners midfield after four months out.
7.39pmHad the 23-year-old been fit all season, he would have been a more serious contender for the Young Player of the Year prize, won last night by Eden Hazard of Chelsea, and Arsenal may not have dropped off the title pace. They were top before Ramsey picked up an injury on Boxing Day.
7.41pmLukas Podolski, who has scored braces in Arsenal's last two games, is again preferred to Tomas Rosicky, while Nacho Monreal deputises for the injured Kieran Gibbs at left back.
7.44pmHEAD-TO-HEAD: Arsenal have won their last four matches against Newcastle, including a 1-0 triumph on Tyneside earlier this season courtesy of Olivier Giroud's second-half goal.
7.46pmREFEREE WATCH: Neil Swarbrick is the man in the middle this evening. No Gibbs tonight, so there is no danger in him joining Andre Marriner in mistaking the left-back for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain!
7.48pmPardew, talking to Sky Sports prior to kickoff has largely avoided queries over Hatem Ben Arfa's absence from his squad tonight. The enigmatic playmaker has not travelled with the squad amid reports that a fallout between him and his manager has virtually signalled the end of his Newcastle career.
7.50pmAround 10 minutes until kickoff under the floodlights in a dry north London...
7.52pmSTAT: Remarkably, Newcastle have only scored one goal in the 11 Premier League matches that Loic Remy has missed this season. They will be very glad to have him back in the starting lineup!
7.54pmWORLD CUP WATCH: With Oxlade-Chamberlain out tonight due to a groin problem, and Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs also on the sidelines, Roy Hodgson may not be paying too much attention to St James' Park tonight. Didier Deschamps on the other hand might be...
7.57pmPREDICTION: I expect that the Pardew and Remy factors will make Newcastle much more competitive than they have been of late, but I still fancy Arsenal to win, perhaps by a 3-1 scoreline.
1 minMesut Ozil and Mikel Arteta get the game underway for Arsenal at the Emirates...
3 minPlenty of early possession for the hosts. Podolski's chipped pass over the top has just too much on it for the overlapping Monreal to chase down and goes behind for a goal kick.
6 minBoth of Arsenal's full-backs are camped in advanced positions already. A long passing move ends up with Monreal feigning to cross and then earning a corner off Sissoko, which comes to nothing.
9 minThe tone of the game seems to have been set, even at this early stage. Newcastle are happy to keep men behind the ball and invite Arsenal to break them down. They have got into the Gunners half on a couple of occasions, but the hosts have quickly regained possession from an isolated Remy.
11 minArsenal get in behind for the first time as Cazorla releases Ozil down the right. Ramsey and Giroud are in the middle, but Coloccini slides to block a rather weak cross from the £42m signing.
14 minSagna gives the ball away to Gouffran on the halfway line and he spins and quickly looks to set Remy free. The striker had made a run off Koscielny into space, but Per Mertesacker intercepts the pass.
16 minA give-and-go smartly sets up Ramsey to run at the Newcastle defence. He carries the ball before trying to slip Giroud through the middle, but Dummett covers well to tackle the striker.
18 minCLOSE! A corner is cleared to Cazorla, who delivers a second ball towards Koscielny. He challenges with Tim Krul, who punches clear but only to the edge of the box, where Monreal does well to get over a volley which drifts just wide of the post. Koscielny had probably fouled Krul, but play went on.
20 minCHANCE! Sissoko peels off Arteta to collect a long throw and then knocks the ball past Mertesacker to reach the edge of the box. With Sagna chasing him, he opts to take the shot on early but his attempted curler around Wojciech Szczesny is too high and misses the crossbar by a few yards.
24 minBOOKING: Ramsey tries a dink over the top towards Giroud, and Sissoko, who had got the wrong side of the Frenchman, tugs back his compatriot and is shown the first caution of the night.
26 minGOAL! ARSENAL 1-0 NEWCASTLE (LAURENT KOSCIELNY)
26 minKoscielny, who scored against Newcastle on the final day of last season to secure Arsenal fourth place, contributes what could be another important goal! Cazorla's brilliant free-kick delivery drops over the Newcastle back line for Koscielny to poke past Krul from six yards. Again, Sissoko did not do his defensive duties but Cazorla's ball really was into the perfect area for someone to attack.
28 minCHANCE! Arsenal dink over the high Newcastle line again, and Podolski is onside. Krul comes charging off his line but Podolski manages to squeeze a shot through the Dutchman's legs which rolls just wide of the post. A corner is given, Krul must have got something on it to divert it off target.
30 minSAVE! The Gunners knock on the door again from the resultant corner, with Mertesacker climbing highest to make very good contact with a header which Krul palms away strongly.
32 minSHOT! Tiote's only Premier League goal remains that cracking left-footed volley which completed a four-goal comeback against Arsenal a couple of seasons ago. Gouffran lays it of for him to hit from 30 yards, but his well-struck curler is straight down Szczesny's throat.
34 minBOOKING: Ramsey is a little late sliding in on Tiote and, after playing the advantage, referee Neil Swarbrick remembers his offence and calls him over to show him a yellow card. It is Arsenal's second booking, after Koscielny was cautioned for kicking the ball into the crowd while celebrating his goal.
37 minDebuchy gets forward from right-back to collect a long ball, hold off the challenge of Monreal and shoot from 30 yards. It looks close at first glance, but replays show it swerved some way wide.
39 minRamsey and Cazorla play a one-two, with the Spaniard then getting to the right byline to deliver a cross which is blocked. Moments later, he slices a shot on the turn towards the corner flag.
41 minGiroud takes two bites at the cherry before Ozil taps home Arsenal's second from four yards. The Frenchman beat the offside trap to get free one-on-one against Krul. He tries to curl the ball into the bottom corner, but hits straight at the Newcastle keeper, and finds his chest again with the follow-up. The ball bounces kindly to Ozil, who knocks it into an empty net for his first Premier League goal of 2014.
43 minWhen they have a chance to look back at that, Newcastle may feel that offside should have been called against Ozil, as he was beyond Krul at the time of Giroud's second shot and there was not two defenders between him and the goal as the rules state that there needs to be to play on...
45 minWe are entering TWO minutes of first-half stoppage time at the Emirates...
45+2 minCazorla collects a pass inside from Ozil and cleverly skips past Coloccini. He shoots across goal, but Krul dives to his right to make a good and important save seconds before the whistle is blown.
8.52pmPardew's return to the touchline has done Newcastle no favours so far, with goals from Koscielny and Ozil giving Arsenal a 2-0 half-time lead as they chase Champions League qualification.
8.55pmPretty average marking from Sissoko allowed Koscielny to prod home a wonderfully-delivered Cazorla free kick on 24 minutes, while Ozil was the beneficiary of an incorrect offside call and a lucky rebound to double Arsenal's advantage on 41 minutes, after Krul had twice saved from Giroud.
8.58pmKrul crucially saved from Cazorla in stoppage time to keep Newcastle in this. Arsenal have not surrendered a 2-0 half-time lead since Newcastle famously came from four down to draw 4-4 in 2011.
9.00pmSTATS: Arsenal lead the statistics in all of the major areas - possession with 63%, shots on target with seven to Newcastle's one and corners with seven, while the Magpies have yet to have one.
46 minNewcastle resume the action in London, with both sides unchanged for the second period...
48 minRamsey charges forward again from midfield, sending Monreal out wide. His cross bounces off Williamson, who fails to clear twice more before knocking it behind under pressure from Podolski.
49 minRemy drifts over to the left flank, where some would argue he is more comfortable than through the middle. He comes inside to try and get a shot away, but Arteta sees this coming and tackles well.
52 minCHANCE! The second of successive Arsenal corners is won in the air by Williamson, but the ball drops beautifully for Cazorla to strike a volley which he cannot keep down.
55 minArsenal's 10th corner of the evening brings about another half chance, as the ball falls to Podolski at the far post. He tries to steer it across goal, but Dummett flicks away from the danger zone.
58 minCHANCE! Great opportunity to get back into the game for Newcastle. Remy controls smartly before threading a ball through for Gouffran, who had made an intelligent burst in from the left to break the offside trap. He gets in-front of Koscielny to set up a shooting chance, but, from 15 yards out and running away from goal, he can only shoot low at Szczesny, who gathers at the second attempt.
60 minThat may act as a warning sign for Arsenal. Newcastle have been even more pedestrian since the break but it will only take one goal to change this game and put the nerves back in this expectant crowd.
62 minRamsey pops up in the number-10 position and Arteta finds his feet. The Welshman quickly turns and runs across the edge of the box before threading in Giroud. The offside flag is raised as Dummett makes up some good ground to make a last-ditch tackle and prevent the striker from shooting.
66 minGOAL! ARSENAL 3-0 NEWCASTLE (OLIVIER GIROUD)
66 minGiroud adds his name to the scoresheet with a third goal which surely wraps this result up for the Gunners. Ramsey's reverse pass sets up Ozil for a good cross into the six-yard box which Giroud converts with a thumping header. He could not miss really, such poor defending from Newcastle.
68 minCLOSE! Arsenal are getting plenty of joy down the flanks now and Ozil breaks forward on the left. Podolski takes up a central position and his compatriot picks him out with an accurate cutback, but he cannot guide the ball inside the post as his shot hits the side netting.
70 minSUBSTITUTION: Pardew brings on Shola Ameobi to give Arsenal's central defenders something to think about for the last 20 minutes. Midfielder Dan Gosling is the man who makes way.
72 minSHOT! Sissoko wins a 50-50 with Arteta on the edge of the box and quickly squares for Gouffran, who had got himself back into an onside position. He works the ball onto his left foot, but his tame bending shot with his weaker left-foot is easy pickings for Szczesny, diving to his right.
74 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Double change for the hosts in midfield, with the three-goal cushion giving Wenger the luxury of bringing off Ozil and Ramsey as we enter the last quarter-of-an-hour. Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky are on in place of Arsenal's best two performers this evening.
76 minBOOKING: Sagna earns himself a stupid booking by throwing the ball into the ground in dispute of a foul given against him. Why do that when you know exactly what the consequences will be?!
79 minCazorla and Rosicky work the ball around Dummett with a quick one-two, but the Spaniard is closed down by Tiote, who diverts the cross behind to give Arsenal another corner.
81 minThe Gunners are in absolute cruise control now, having scored three goals in a game for the third game in succession. Newcastle have barely looked like scoring one in all honesty.
84 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Yaya Sanogo gets another short Premier League run out as he replaces Giroud. Newcastle's Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is on for the final five minutes, with Debuchy coming off.
86 minPENALTY APPEAL! Podolski steers a clever pass around the corner for Rosicky to run onto inside the penalty area, and he pokes a shot well wide while going to ground under the challenge of the newly-introduced Yanga-Mbiwa. Rosicky turns to referee Swarbrick and although there was a little tangle of legs, the contact was after Rosicky's effort. Good decision to award only a goal kick.
88 minMonreal chases down a pass from Cazorla to get to the ball by the left byline and wrap his foot around a cross which nearly caught out Krul as it threatened to sneak in at the near post.
89 minSUBSTITUTION: Pardew gives a fourth top-flight appearance to young homegrown striker Adam Armstrong as Gouffran is spared the final few minutes of a disappointing evening for Newcastle.
90 minWe are now entering THREE minutes of second-half stoppage time at the Emirates Stadium...
90+3 minCHANCE! Ameobi guides the ball around the corner for Sissoko to get to the right byline and stand up a cross for Dummett, whose high volley just about sums up his side's performance.
9.54pmA comfortable win for Arsenal, but a crucial one nonetheless as they move four points clear of Everton in the race for a top-four finish. Koscielny, Ozil and Giroud the scorers in a 3-0 victory.
9.56pmThe Gunners could be guaranteed Champions League football for an 18th straight season before they host West Brom on Sunday, if Everton lose to Man City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening.
9.58pmA sixth straight defeat for Newcastle, though, means that they are in the midst of their worst league run in 27 years. Pardew will be desperate for the season to end, while the fans may feel the same about his reign, with signs of protest evident in the away crowd during the second period.
10pmThat's it from me. Thanks for joining Sports Mole tonight and be sure to come back for live coverage of the unmissable Champions League semi-finals this week. Until next time...