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Arsenal inflict repeat defeat on Newcastle

Source:AFP.com Author:Robin Millard Date:03/25/14 Click:

LONDON (AFP) - History repeated itself at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday as hosts Arsenal beat Newcastle United 3-0 for the second time in four days to go top of the English Premier League.

The Magpies were beaten in the FA Cup fourth round thanks to two goals from Togo striker Adebayor goals and a late own goal by Nicky Butt.

And Adebayor got the repeat performance going, heading in Mathieu Flamini's cross in the 40th minute before the France midfielder blasted in a superb long-range shot in the 72nd.

Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas struck the third eight minutes later to complete the rout.

Kevin Keegan's return as Newcastle boss sparked wild celebrations on Tyneside, but three games in, the buzz has somewhat disappeared after two defeats and zero goals scored.

Arsenal overtook Manchester United at the top of the league, three points clear ahead of the Red Devils hosting Portsmouth on Wednesday. Newcastle are 14th, seven points off the relegation zone.

Gunners manager Arsene Wenger said: "They were three great goals but Newcastle worked very hard. They had great spirit but fortunately we look good defensively at the moment.

"It was a hard-won victory. We needed time and patience to kill them off. They started strongly but we controlled it more in the second half."

Keegan said: "It's a tough place to come. I think we've got a genuine bunch of players here who gave it everything they've got.

"We didn't quite have enough quality at times, but that's something that I think the players have got, it just didn't come up.

"We don't have to play Arsenal every week twice -- and that's probably a good thing."

Former Leeds manager Dennis Wise was in the stands to watch his first match as Newcastle's new director of football, part of a back-room shake-up. On this showing, he has plenty of work to do.

Arsenal had the better of the opening exchanges and were the more creative, though Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given went untested.

In the 17th minute, Gunners midfielder Abou Diaby sent a superb cross-field pass to Alexander Hleb, and the Belarus midfielder returned the ball with a cross into the penalty box, which Diaby headed over the crossbar.

Given then showed extraordinary cool in front of goal 11 minutes later, backheeling Steven Taylor's backpass out for a corner when under pressure from Adebayor.

The Gunners were keeping the Magpies under constant pressure, cutting through the visitors' defence, but failing to finish off their chances.

In the 38th minute, Flamini, breaking down the right, whipped in a cross for Adebayor, but he blasted his first-time volley over the bar.

But two minutes later, the same combination finally unlocked the Magpies' defence.

After a swift interchange of passes near the half-way line, Flamini burst down the right and sent a splendid cross into the box. Adebayor shrugged off marker Stephen Carr to head in from six yards out as Arsenal cranked up the pressure.

Newcastle looked more determined to attack following the interval, with England striker Michael Owen's runs testing the Gunners' defence.

But Diaby missed another good opportunity for the hosts, twisting and turning Butt on the edge of the penalty box before firing a rising shot wide.

Keegan brought on Joey Barton, the talented but wayward midfielder making his first appearance since spending a week behind bars on remand over New Year following an early-hours incident in his native Liverpool.

Flamini testing Given with a low curling shot, before Wenger threw on Nicklas Bendtner for Eduardo.

It was the Denmark striker's first appearance in attack with Adebayor since the latter left him bloodied in the 5-1 defeat to north London rivals Tottenham a week ago.

For Arsenal's third goal, Bendtner took down a long ball on the edge of the box and laid it off for Fabregas, who scored with an assured finish. Newcastle had late chances to score a consolation goal, but missed the lot.

Damien Duff fired wide, Gunners goalkeeper Manuel Almunia got a hand to a Butt free kick which hit the bar, and then smothered a last-ditch shot from substitute Shola Ameobi.

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