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31 Aug 2008 09:51
Arsenal dismantled Newcastle 3-0 behind two first-half goals from Robin Van Persie on Saturday, emphatically bouncing back from last weekend’s surprise loss to Fulham.
Denilson added the third goal as Arsenal produced an attacking masterclass at Emirates Stadium that easily could have led to an even larger scoreline with sharper finishing.
Arsenal, which also routed FC Twente 4-0 in a Champions League qualifier on Wednesday, seemed rejuvenated by the return of Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas and played with all its trademark flair and finesse that was missing during last Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Craven Cottage.
“Apart from at the start of the second half, we were always in control and played the game we love, and showed the way we can play,” manager Arsene Wenger said. “The improvement comes from a completely different attitude.
We showed that against Twente and did it again tonight.
For Newcastle, the loss compounded its troubles after losing key midfielder James Milner to Aston Villa this week. Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan said he had only had 14 fit senior players for the game, and elected to include Joey Barton on the substitutes bench for the first time this season. Barton, who was recently released from a jail sentence for assault, was greeted by loud boos by the home fans when coming on in the final minutes after the match had already been decided.
Shortly after Barton entered the field, he was penalised for a challenge on Samir Nasri, who retaliated moments later. Keegan, who admitted he had wanted to buy Nasri for Newcastle, was then involved in a heated touchline discussion with the French midfielder after the final whistle.
“Joey came on, got a good tackle in on Nasri,” said Keegan. “Then the guy sliced him down. That’s what happened and that’s what I saw, which is what I was upset about. I like Nasri very much—he’s a player we looked at for a possible signing, but you can’t do that. Joey has done nothing wrong. I’m concerned about my team, not individual players.”
With the win, Arsenal has six points after three rounds, while Newcastle has four. Leader Chelsea plays Tottenham on Sunday.
The Gunners should have gone ahead in the second minute when Gallas missed a clear chance from just two metres out. Instead, Van Persie made it 1-0 with a penalty kick in the 18th, after Charles N’Zogbia blocked Emmanuel Adebayor’s cross with his hand. Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given guessed right and dove to his left, but Van Persie well-placed shot was still out of reach.
The Magpies should have drawn level in the 37th when Jonas Gutierrez broke free down the left flank and found Michael Owen completely unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box. But the England striker sent his shot wide.
Adebayor then squandered a clear chance by also sending a shot wide at the other end, before Arsenal made it 2-0 in the 41st after some exquisite passing. Adebayor’s square ball into the area was backheeled by Emmanuel Eboue into Van Persie’s path and the Dutchman smacked the ball into the roof of Given’s net.
Newcastle seemed temporarily revived at the start of the second half, as a Nicky Butt header rebounded off the bar and Danny Guthrie had a low drive from 20 metres that stung goalkeeper Manuel Almunia’s palms.
But Arsenal sealed the win in the 59th with another textbook attack, as Samir Nasri and Adebayor’s intricate passing set up Denilson for a close-range finish.
Wenger’s only cause of concern came when the injury-prone Van Persie hobbled off in the second half after hurting his ankle.
“We do not know yet,” Wenger said when asked how serious the injury was. “He has to have an X-ray on his ankle. Hopefully nothing is
broken. He is the link between the midfield and the strikers, which is very important in the game we want to play.”
Also on Saturday, newcomer Hull suffered its first Premier League loss when it was thrashed by Wigan 5-0. The Tigers had four points after their first two games but went behind to Wigan after just five minutes when Sam Ricketts scored an own-goal. Antonio Valencia doubled the visitors’ lead in the 13th.
Amr Zaki scored twice after the break—either side of a strike from Emile Heskey—to complete the easy win for Steve Bruce’s side.
Hull coach Phil Brown called the match a “harsh reality check”.
Everton also lost heavily at home as Portsmouth recovered from two straight defeats with a 3-0 win. Jermain Defoe put Pompey ahead after 12 minutes and Glen Johnson added a second goal five minutes before half time.
Everton had a chance to pull a goal back in the 46th but David James saved Yakubu’s penalty. Defoe got his second goal with a superb chip in
the 69th Middlesbrough needed a late goal from Tuncay Sanli to beat 10-man Stoke 2-1.
Afonso Alves put the Teesiders in front after 37 minutes, moments after Stoke’s Amdy Faye had been sent off for a two-footed lunge at Mohamed Shawky. Stewart Downing missed a penalty for Middlesbrough and Stoke drew level with an own-goal from Justin Hoyte in the 71st.
Tuncay slotted the winner past Thomas Sorensen in the 85th.
West Ham beat Blackburn 4-1 at Upton Park. Goals from Callum Davenport and Dean Ashton gave the Hammers an early 2-0 lead, but Jason
Roberts pulled one back before the break.
Roberts had a penalty saved by Robert Green moments after the restart and Craig Bellamy finally ended Rovers’ hopes when he struck in the 90th minute, before Carlton Cole added a fourth in stoppage time.
West Brom picked up its first point of the season, drawing with Bolton 0-0. - Sapa-AP
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