Another win and we extend our lead over Aston Villa, whilst also reducing Chelsea’s lead to six points.
We have not had a good record at St James’ Park, usually drawing games we should win. Today we started well, looking composed at the back and appearing to be able to create chances at will. It was a shock then that gave a needless penalty away. Almunia came for a cross, dropped it and tangled with a Newcastle player. The referee pointed to the spot and up stepped Martins. Almunia the villain turned hero as he saved the penalty.
The game then started to open up, Newcastle had plenty of possession, but as befits a team at the bottom, their chances we half chances. The best chances fell to Arsenal. A great through ball by Bendtner found van Persie one on one but he was too close to Harper and the keeper saved the shot. Arshavin was put through but a desperate lunge from Taylor blocked his shot. Minutes later Bendtner was through, he squared for van Persie, but once more Taylor blocked the shot.
The second half saw Arsenal dominate the game. Arsenal took the lead when Arshavin floated a free kick which was met by Bendtner to give Arsenal the lead. We did not have a minute to sit back and relax as Martins took advantage of an indifferent Gallas and shot into the bottom corner to equalise.
Arsenal did not buckle, and a thrusting run from Diaby and a one-two with van Persie saw the Frenchman through on goal and the finish was unstoppable. Within minutes it was 3-1 as again van Persie played Nasri through, Nasri had the confidence to shoot and score.
Arsenal could have extended their lead with Denilson, van Persie and Bendtner all coming close. In the last minutes Diaby had a shot that thundered against the post.
Arsenal came, conquered and took all three points. Arsenal have not played flowing football like this for weeks or rather months. We scored three goals and it could have been six or seven. We have overturned a six point deficit against Aston Villa, turning it into a three point lead; this puts pressure on Villa to beat Liverpool on Sunday. We are certainly setting ourselves up for a grandstand finish to our season, which is the complete reverse of last season.
Saturday will tell us a lot about which direction our season is going. The first three games saw us struggle to create much, whilst on Wednesday we showed the kind of display that we are sued to seeing.
Next up are Newcastle United, a club with big intentions every year, but which always seems to implode. Having called for a bigger squad, Keegan has recruited a few players, but just as he thought things were going well, James Milner leaves to join Aston Villa. Newcastle have started the season well, and more importantly Michael Owen has started to score.
This will definitely be a test for Arsenal. Fabregas is the key for us, he can control the midfield and the game, his supporting cast need to produce a display that matches the best parts of Wednesday. Nasri and Walcott need to dazzle on the wings, whilst Denilson has to continue where he left off, just sharpen up his finishing.
At the back Wenger has a tough choice, Toure or Djourou. Djourou has done well i nthe games he has played, all the three games resulted in clean sheets. Toure on the other hand has not looked 100% and do not be surprised at another start on the bench for the Ivorian.
The problem for Wenger lies upfield. Bendtner had a nightmare of a game on Wednesday, a chance to shine was blown. Van Persie is struggling to find any sort of form, whilst Adebayor has not started the season yet, his mind is still on the new contract he signed. This makes the exclusion of Vela all the more mysterious. Wenger says his call-ups for the Mexican national team has prevented him playing the wonderkid, but if there was ever a time to play him the match against Newcastle is the time to start and see what he can do.
The strikers need to come to form or we will struggle. We now have goals from Nasri and Walcott, but the greatest threat needs to come from our forwards. Failure to beat Newcastle will set the alarm bells ringing, but I hope victory will not convince Wenger we are the finished article.
The game is live on Setanta Sports , kick-off 5:30pm