Thomas Vermaelen scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time as Arsenal beat Newcastle 2-1 to secure its sixth come-from-behind win of the English Premier League soccer season.
Vermaelen netted at the far post after running the length of the pitch at the Emirates Stadium in north London last night to extend Arsenal’s winning streak to five league games and lift it to within one point of third-place Tottenham.
“We showed the mentality of fighters,” Vermaelen told Sky Sports. “In the second half we were pushing and pushing. We knew we had to be patient and in the end we will score a goal.”
Hatem Ben Arfa’s 14th-minute strike put Newcastle ahead before Robin van Persie tied it 55 seconds later with his 26th league goal of the season. Vermaelen’s winner made Arsenal the first team to rally for four straight Premier League wins after also coming from behind against Sunderland, Spurs and Liverpool.
While Arsenal stays in fourth place with 52 points, the Gunners now trail Spurs by a single point having been 12 behind their north London rivals at the start of February. Third place gains automatic qualification to next season’s Champions League.
“Tottenham have got to be watching over their shoulders now,” Arsenal winger Theo Walcott told Sky Sports. “It’s been an up and down season, but it’s the way you finish, and that’s the most important thing.”
Manchester United replaced Manchester City at the top two days ago as it beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 and its cross-town rival lost at Swansea. United has 67 points to City’s 66.
Newcastle remains in sixth place with 44 points. Seventh-place Liverpool hosts ninth-place Everton tonight with two points separating the Merseyside rivals.
Arsenal Trails Again
Ben Arfa put Newcastle ahead when he cut in from the right before beating Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny at his near post with a left-foot shot.
Van Persie tied it within a minute, drilling a low shot into the corner to take his tally to 44 goals in his past 45 Premier League games. The strike also gave Van Persie the single-season record for Premier League goals by a Dutchman, surpassing Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 25 goals in 2002-03.
Tomas Rosicky miscued his shot midway through the second half and Van Persie and Gervinho had chances to put Arsenal ahead in the last 12 minutes, though both shot wide. Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul then acrobatically tipped Vermaelen’s goal-bound header over the crossbar in the 90th minute.
Vermaelen got the winning goal five minutes later, sweeping in from close range after Newcastle failed to clear Walcott’s cross from the right.
“It needed something special to beat them,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told Sky Sports. “And what beat them was our relentless effort just to win the game. We just did not stop.”