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Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle: Instant Reaction

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Arsenal comfortably beat Alan Pardew's side to close in sight of a 17th straight season in the Champions League

Jamie McDonald

Arsenal are 3 points away from clinching a berth in the playoff round of next season's Champions League after comfortably dispatching a Newcastle United side that are doing the football equivalent of a high school senior's last quarter. Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Özil and Olivier Giroud all scored, and Arsene Wenger was able to rest Özil and Aaron Ramsey ahead of the final three matches of the season.

Despite needing a win, Arsenal started slowly, and there was most definitely an end-of-season feeling to the match. Mesut Özil's appreciation of space and Santi Cazorla's passing kept things interesting, but Arsenal lacked a final pass. The final pass finally came from a free kick. Moussa Sissoko needlessly hauled Olivier Giroud to the ground, and from the ensuing free kick lost Laurent Koscielny, who ran onto Cazorla's delivery to put Arsenal 1-0 up.

It was soon 2-0: From a corner, Podolski had a free header, but his shot was straight at Tim Krul, who denied Podolski moments later after the German was sent through by the magnificent Aaron Ramsey. It was, however, 2-0 shortly before half time. Mikel Arteta, with lots of time, played Olivier Giroud in. With time, and one on one, Giroud had hist first shot saved by Krul, and had another shot saved by the Dutch keeper; fortunately for Arsenal, the ball deflected to the possibly offside Özil, who finished first time with his right foot.

The second half was more time for Ramsey, Cazorla and Özil to have fun, though Newcastle did have one opportunity when Yoann Gouffran was sent through, but hit his shot straight at Wojciech Szczesny. Arsenal sealed the points soon after, though; Ramsey and Özil combined on the left, and the German hit a perfect cross for Olivier Giroud to head home. Arsenal could've scored more, with Cazorla and Podolski missing presentable chances, but the final twenty minutes were not newsworthy.

With the win, Arsenal move 4 points clear of Everton, with two matches left for both sides. One more win, or Everton losing on Saturday afternoon, will be enough.