Arsenal made Everton pay for their weekend slip-up by picking up a 3-0 Premier League win over Newcastle United on Monday.
Roberto Martinez’s men scored two own goals as Everton fell to a 2-0 defeat at Southampton on Saturday, meaning victory for Arsenal over beleaguered Newcastle sees the north London club pull four points clear in the chase for a UEFA Champions League berth with two games remaining.
The result never looked in doubt after Laurent Koscielny’s simple finish sent the hosts into a 26th-minute lead at the Emirates Stadium, with Mesut Ozil doubling the advantage before the break.
And the three points were in the bag midway through the second half, when Ozil turned provider to tee up an Olivier Giroud headed goal.
A sixth consecutive defeat for Newcastle will undoubtedly heap pressure on manager Alan Pardew, who has now overseen the club’s longest losing league run since 1987.
Pardew was back in the dugout following his seven-match ban for headbutting Hull City’s David Meyler, with opposite number Arsene Wenger offering a warm welcome to the manager with whom he had his own heated confrontation at West Ham in 2006.
Top scorer Loic Remy returned to the Newcastle starting XI, but it was the unchanged hosts who looked more dangerous on the attack in the opening stages.
However, clear-cut opportunities proved difficult to come by for both sides until the 18th minute, when Ozil drilled an effort wide of the right-hand post after Koscielny had collided with goalkeeper Tim Krul in the penalty area.
And defender Koscielny was in the mix in the Newcastle penalty area again eight minutes later as he broke the deadlock, this time making the most of Moussa Sissoko’s lacklustre marking to poke home from a Mikel Arteta free-kick.
Lukas Podolski pulled wide of the target as Arsenal chased a quickfire double and the German drew a strong hand from Krul with a powerful header from a corner soon after.
Cheick Tiote evoked memories of his stunning equaliser in Newcastle’s famous 2011 4-4 draw with Arsenal when he stung the palms of Wojciech Szczesny with a thunderbolt of an effort from 30 yards, but the home side doubled their advantage three minutes before the break.
Giroud failed to find a way past Krul after having two bites at the cherry, but the ball fell kindly for Ozil to tap-in from inside the six-yard box, although the midfielder appeared marginally offside.
Yoan Gouffran surged forward in a rare Newcastle attack 10 minutes into the second half, but Szczesny made himself big to deny the Frenchman.
And it was all over for Newcastle in the 66th minute, when Giroud nodded home from an Ozil cross, prompting fans in the away end at the Emirates to unfurl a banner asking: “Next excuse Pardew?”
It remains to be seen if under-fire Pardew has an answer for his own club’s supporters, but few question marks now exist over whether Arsenal have what it takes to win the race for fourth.
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