Last-Gasp Victory for Arsenal

Gunners make history after Vermaelen’s injury-time winner

Arsenal’s charge towards the top three continued after they became the first team in Premier League history to triumph from a goal down in four successive matches with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Newcastle.

Thomas Vermaelen’s winner in the fifth minute of injury time followed turnaround successes against Sunderland, Tottenham and Liverpool to ensure Arsene Wenger’s team remained on the march.

The win was also a fifth in a row overall for Arsenal, who had seen Robin van Persie equalise seconds after Hatem Ben Arfa had given Newcastle the lead in the first half, and they are now just one point behind third-placed derby rivals Spurs.

It is a remarkable resurgence for Wenger’s men, who just a month ago were said to be in crisis, and the wild scenes which marked Vermaelen’s late winner demonstrated the renewed spirit at Emirates Stadium.

An ugly spat between Van Persie and fellow Dutchman Tim Krul, which had been simmering all match, threatened to overshadow events.

But Arsenal are unlikely to care, while Newcastle will know their UEFA Champions League ambitions are now as good as over.

Having stretched their unbeaten run to four games with an impressive hammering of AC Milan last week, it looked as if Monday night’s game was set to be a stroll for the home side, and it started as such in North London.

The excellent Theo Walcott found space on the touchline and whipped across a wicked pass, but Van Persie somehow failed to tap in from six yards.

The Gunners were dominating, but the home crowd were stunned in to silence in the 15th minute when the Magpies took the lead.

Vermaelen passed to Cheick Tiote and the ball found its way to the right flank, where Ben Arfa cut inside and fired a precise finish past Wojciech Szczesny.

The home crowd were on their feet less than a minute later, however, as Van Persie came to the rescue.

Walcott galloped down the right after being freed by Tomas Rosicky and he crossed for the Dutchman, who shrugged off Williamson’s challenge before slotting home.

A scrappy period followed. Arsenal’s build-up play was impressive, but they were failing to test Krul in the Newcastle goal.

Fabricio Coloccini did well to block Walcott’s shot as the ball pinged around the Newcastle box in the dying minutes of the first half.

Newcastle brought on James Perch for Davide Santon, who had struggled to keep tabs on Walcott during the first half.

The England winger did not take long to slip past his new marker, however, as he got to the byline and curled over a lovely ball but Rosicky headed at Krul.

Coloccini threw himself in to the line of Mikel Arteta’s shot to deny Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who moments later delivered a pin-point cross to Van Persie, but the striker could only muster a weak shot at Krul.

Rosicky, who earlier on Monday signed a contract extension, was in exquisite form, embarrassing Yohan Cabaye with a clever turn before finding Van Persie in the box, but he was again denied by his compatriot.

Rosicky then missed a glorious chance himself to put Arsenal ahead. He exchanged passes with Walcott, and found acres of space in the box, but he mis-hit so badly that his shot went out for a throw.

Newcastle gifted Arsenal another chance to go ahead 10 minutes from the end when Ben Arfa surrendered possession to Kieran Gibbs, who found Van Persie in the box, but he fired well wide from a tight angle.

It seemed as if Arsenal were not going to find their way through as another chance to win the game escaped them.

Arteta’s corner somehow evaded everyone in the box apart from Gervinho at the back post, but he horribly miscued wide.

Krul came to Newcastle’s rescue in the final minute, palming over a brilliant header from Vermaelen with an acrobatic save which looked to have earned the visitors a hard-fought point.

Walcott drove a deflected shot over in injury time, which he felt struck Coloccini’s arm, but referee Howard Webb waved away his protests.

Wenger thought the game was over, sitting with his head in his hands, but Walcott’s 95th minute cross dropped in to Vermaelen’s path and he finished from close range to send the home crowd in to ecstasy.

Disappointing scenes followed as Van Persie and Krul squared up in the aftermath of the goal. Both were booked and Krul had to be restrained after the final whistle.