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Newcastle's season is going underground
Full-time: Arsenal 3 Newcastle United 0
IF Newcastle United fans had wanted a reason to beat the Tube strike last night then it arrived – and Alan Pardew could have done with them heading for an early exit too.
By the time the two-day transport union's industrial action in London kicked in at 9pm, the half-time whistle had blown at the Emirates and the Magpies had fallen two behind courtesy of goals from Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Ozil.
Had the Newcastle supporters left then, they might just have caught the final Tube back to Kings Cross. Instead more than 2,000 of them stayed behind to direct their frustration towards Pardew.
The third Arsenal goal of the night from Olivier Giroud in the 66th minute not only condemned Newcastle to a sixth straight defeat for the first time in the Premier League era, it also led to noisier levels of dissatisfaction towards the visiting boss.
Ironic chants of 'you're getting sacked in the morning' from Arsenal fans followed quickly on from the away fans' demands for his removal with shouts of 'we want Pardew out' and 'we're going to party when Pardew gets the sack'.
Newcastle actually started the night positively, but an encouraging first 20 minutes was soon rendered pointless when Newcastle slipped to their latest defeat.
With two matches remaining the top ten finish demanded by the club's owner, Mike Ashley, are in serious doubt, with both Stoke and Crystal Palace in touch with the ninth-placed Magpies ahead of the final two games with Cardiff City and Liverpool.
It became far too easy for Arsenal, with Newcastle's problems highlighted by the fact they have now conceded 17 and scored just one during their abysmal run of form – even if few expected anything ahead of the trip to North London last night.
Pardew, who has ensured there has been no repeat of a relegation fight, was back in the dug-out after his seven match touchline ban and before a ball had even been kicked he was asked to explain his reasoning behind leaving Hatem Ben Arfa out.
Centre-half Laurent Koscielny gets ahead of Sissoko to open the scoring in the first-half
Ben Arfa, the name being chanted on early on by Newcastle fans, was left on Tyneside not because of injury but because the team was “picked on merit”.
The Newcastle boss could have done without such a decision backfiring on him, given how many fans have already made up their mind they want him out.
In fairness, Newcastle would have been ahead had Moussa Sissoko's aim been better in the 21st minute. After cleverly beating Per Mertesacker, Sissoko was faced with the goal in front of him but his curl went flying over the bar.
That arrived during a decent little spell for Newcastle, who had survived a couple of earlier scares to suggest the return of Sissoko and Loic Remy to the starting line-up might bring more attacking threat.
It did not, though, last long enough. Despite plenty of movement from the two Frenchmen during the first half which gave the Arsenal defence enough to think about, it was a lapse at the other end which cost Newcastle.
After Sissoko had pulled down Giroud unnecessarily deep in the Newcastle half, Santi Cazorla's dangerous free-kick was floated towards the back post at speed. Sissoko, again, lost his marker and Koscielny slid into finish from close range.
The best of the first half chances after that fell to Arsenal, although Newcastle could quite easily have been level if either of the distance drives from Mathieu Debuchy and Cheik Tiote had forced Wojciech Szczesny in to greater action.
Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote (right) and Mike Williamson (hidden) battle for the ball in the air with Arsenal's Per Mertesacker (left)
The fact neither did find the net, however, proved costly. Arsenal found an extra gear and Newcastle struggled to deal with them. Had it not been for Krul, the half-time deficit could have been greater than two.
Newcastle's Dutch keeper had already done well to stop Lukas Podolski from scoring when he was sent clean through by a clever Cazorla pass. He then somehow prevented a close-range header from the German forward moments later.
But the second did arrive three minutes before the break. When a ball in to the corner caught out the Newcastle defence, Giroud was played onside by right-back Mathieu Debuchy.
Giroud cut inside and had just the goalkeeper to beat but Krul made two point blank saves from the front-man. Unfortunately for the goalkeeper, the second rebounded perfectly for Ozil to tap over the line, despite him standing in an offside position.
There would even have been a third had Krul not flung himself to his right to deny Cazorla, whose movement had got him in behind a static backline.
There could have been few complaints had that gone in and Newcastle fans started to direct their frustrations on the night towards the boss.
That did not stop him from entering his technical area, however. Yet he could do nothing either in the dressing room or the dug-out to address the situation as Arsenal controlled the second half too, barring the occasional glimpse of Szczesny's goal. The best of which saw the Polish No 1 deny Yoan Gouffran when he was sent through on goal by Remy's nice pass.
Normal service was resumed 24 minutes before the end. When Arsenal worked their way down the left, Ozil's perfect centre was met by the head of the onrushing Giroud, who had got between Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini, and Krul was beaten.
Alan Pardew applauds the travelling fans on his return to the dug-out last night
After that, the Emirates slowly emptied, with Arsenal celebrating another step towards sealing that fourth and final Champions League spot.
Even the disgruntled Newcastle fans' interest waned as the latest sorry tale to a depressing end to the season continued.
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