EPL PIX: Arsenal down Newcastle to stay in title hunt
Arsenal showed no sign of raising the white flag in the Premier League title race with a 2-0 victory at Newcastle United on Sunday to close the gap on leaders Manchester City to one point.
Defeat would have left Arsenal’s hopes of a first title since 2004 hanging by a thread but Martin Odegaard’s brilliant strike and a Fabian Schar own goal sealed a vital victory.
Newcastle, bidding to cement third place and take a big step towards a top-four finish, dominated early on but Odegaard’s sweet strike after 14 minutes gave the visitors the lead.
Schar then inadvertently turned in Gabriel Martinelli’s cross with 20 minutes remaining.
City, who have won 10 straight games to catch and then overhaul Arsenal, have 82 points from 34 games with the Gunners on 81 having played a game more.
Newcastle stay third on 65 but Manchester United could overtake them later on Sunday if they win at West Ham United.
If ever there was a test of the resolve of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal team it was a trip to St James’s Park to face a Newcastle side on a roll in their quest to return to the Champions League after an absence of two decades.
They were fortunate to survive an early onslaught with Newcastle’s Jacob Murphy thumping a second-minute shot against the foot of the post and Alexander Isak forcing Aaron Ramsdale into an early save.
Newcastle were then awarded a penalty after Bruno Guimaraes was blocked by Jakub Kiwior and referee Chris Kavanagh pointed to the spot for apparent handball, but after a VAR check the decision was overturned to the relief of the visitors.
Arsenal then took the lead with their first shot as Odegaard was allowed too much time and sent a skidding effort inside the post from outside the penalty area.
The visitors were devastatingly effective on the counter-attack and Odegaard was at the heart of all their best work, releasing Martinelli who forced Nick Pope into a smart save.
Pope came to Newcastle’s rescue again in stoppage time at the end of a frenetic first half, keeping out Odegaard’s shot.
The second half began in almost identical fashion to the first with Murphy’s cross being headed against the post by Isak and Ramsdale somehow keeping out Schar’s close-range header.
Martinelli then curled a shot against the crossbar and in the 71st minute carried the ball down the left before accelerating to the byline and fizzing in a low cross that deflected off the unfortunate Schar into the net.
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