Vermaelen seals dramatic Arsenal win

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Arsenal closed the gap on third place Tottenham after beating Newcastle in dramatic fashion at the Emirates Stadium.

Hatem Ben Arfa had given Newcastle the lead inside the first quarter of an hour, but Arsenal were level thanks to Robin van Persie less than a minute later.

The visitors, however, failed to show any signs of attacking quality in the second-half, with the Gunners completely dominating proceedings, but it seemed like it would not be their day.

However, Thomas Vermaelen was on hand to scramble home in the 95th minute to hand the Arsenal a valuable three points and consolidate their place in the top four of the Premier League.

Alan Pardew elected not to partner Demba Ba with compatriot Papiss Demba Cisse upfront, but instead tasked Ben Arfa with playing off the lone frontman.

This move soon paid dividends when, on 14 minutes, the France international gave the Magpies the lead on the first occasion they really attacked with purpose.

Cheick Tiote cut out a loose pass from Thomas Vermaelen, which eventually found its way to Ben Arfa, who cut inside full-back Kieran Gibbs and fired off a shot into the bottom corner past Wojciech Szczesny's left hand.

Arsenal, though, replied instantly when Theo Walcott charged down the right from the restart and provided the pass for Van Persie, who turned Mike Williamson inside out and lifted the ball over Tim Krul.

The remainder of the first half passed with little incident, but the Gunners really began to turn the screw in the second period.

Firstly, a cross from Mikel Arteta found Van Persie on the penalty spot, but the Dutchman could shoot only straight at Krul in the Newcastle goal.

The next clear cut chance fell to Van Persie once more, but he was denied by Krul's foot, before Tomas Rosicky fired horribly wide after a cutback from Walcott.

Krul's footwork again saved the Toon - and again to prevent Van Persie adding a 33rd goal of the season - before Gervinho squandered at the back post with only seven minutes remaining.

The Dutch goalkeeper then really excelled with a fine stop from a Vermaelen header, but was unable to stop Arsenal gaining a deserved three points with seconds remaining.

Alex Song picked up the ball from inside his own half, and swept the ball out wide to the impressive Walcott who in turn crossed into the Newcastle box.

Van Persie beat the defence to the first header, which left Vermaelen - who had surged almost the length of the field - to prod home with the goal at his mercy.

The Gunners are now three points clear of fifth placed Chelsea after a fifth league win in a row.

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