Arsenal pile pressure on Pardew
10:03pm Monday 28th April 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Arsenal closed in on another shot at Champions League qualification with a 3-0 win over Newcastle to inflict a sixth straight defeat on under-pressure manager Alan Pardew, who returned to the dugout following a lengthy touchline ban.
The Gunners are now four points ahead of Everton in the race to secure a top-four finish, with just two matches remaining, as club-record signing Mesut Ozil delivered an inspired display, scoring one and creating another.
Newcastle, though, continue their slide down the Barclays Premier League following another lacklustre performance - which left the 2,000-strong travelling support venting their anger on Pardew, whose long-term future is in doubt.
Arsenal showed the greater intent during the opening stages, with an angled drive from Ozil bouncing just wide before Laurent Koscielny stabbed in a deep free-kick from Santi Cazorla on 26 minutes.
Newcastle briefly rallied, but were soon chasing the game again and fell further behind three minutes before half-time when Ozil swept home after Olivier Giroud twice had shots blocked by busy keeper Tim Krul.
The visitors, who last won on March 22, had a great chance to reduce the arrears just before the hour when Yoan Gouffran sprinted clear, but Wojciech Szczesny was out quickly to save.
Arsenal rounded off the victory when Ozil's inch-perfect cross was headed in by Giroud.
The massed ranks of the Toon Army had endured enough and turned on their manager, whose relationship with the hardiest of supporters is now strained at best.
Arsenal, though, look all set to finish in the Champions League places again as they chase a place at Europe's top table for a remarkable 17 straight campaigns ahead of their FA Cup final date with Hull at Wembley.
Pardew was back on the touchline after his seven-game touchline ban for headbutting Hull's David Meyler in March came to an end, but it did little to lift his side as Arsenal started brightly.
Ozil was at the centre of things, and saw his angled drive bounce into the ground and fly just wide of Krul's right-hand post.
Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko, just back from an injury lay-off, burst clear on 20 minutes and towards the Arsenal penalty area, only to send a poor chipped effort horribly wide.
Sissoko was then somewhat fortunate to only be shown a yellow card by referee Neil Swarbrick for pulling back Giroud as he burst clear just inside the Newcastle half.
Justice was served, however, when Santi Cazorla floated in a deep free-kick which bounced through to the six-yard box, where Koscielny stabbed it past Krul to put Arsenal ahead on 26 minutes.
The France defender picked up a caution for his celebrations, kicking the ball high into the Clock End.
It was almost 2-0 soon after as another good dead-ball delivery from Cazorla was headed goalwards by Lukas Podolski, which Krul turned away at point-blank range.
Newcastle briefly threatened to rally when Cheick Tiote drilled a 25-yard effort goalwards, which Szczesny held.
It was only a brief respite, though, as Arsenal took control of the match with a second just before half-time.
Giroud timed his run to beat a high Newcastle offside trap and raced into the penalty area.
Krul was out quickly and twice made a good save, before the ball bobbled out to Ozil at the far post, who gratefully tapped it in.
Things could have been worse for the Magpies when Krul beat away an angled drive from Cazorla following lovely footwork from the diminutive Spaniard at the edge of the Newcastle penalty area.
It as 3-0 and game over on 66 minutes.
Again Ozil was the architect, collecting a pass from Ramsey to ghost down the left side and chip over the perfect cross for Giroud to head home his 15th league goal of the season.
The Newcastle fans again vented their frustrations on Pardew, whose relationship with the Toon Army may well have now reached tipping point - many holding banners against the man who not so long ago had taken the club into a fifth-place finish and Europa League.
Arsenal fans, though, were left to reflect on their continued faith in Arsene Wenger who, despite a period of intense scrutiny earlier in the season, could well oversee the most successful campaign in a decade.