Thomas Vermaelen scored a dramatic winner to give Arsenal a 2-1 victory over Newcastle at the Emirates and move within a point of Tottenham in the battle for an automatic Champions League spot.

After Hatem Ben Arfa had given the visitors a surprise lead, Arsenal responded well with an almost-immediate equalizer through Robin Van Persie, but, although they dominated the game, the Gunners looked like they would be left frustrated in their search for a winner. Then,in the last minute of injury time, Vermaelen popped-up to finish from close range and continue Arsenal's excellent recent form.

The hosts began the contest looking like a side who had won three games on the bounce. And Robin van Persie came close to adding to his 25 league goals so far this campaign within the first couple of minutes.

Theo Walcott played an ideal ball into the gap between goalkeeper and defenders that Van Persie looked certain to get on the end of. Almost inexplicably, though, RVP was unable to make contact.

Despite Arsenal's early endeavors, it was Newcastle who grabbed the opening goal of the game. Vermaelen needlessly conceded possession inside his own half, before the ball eventually found its way to Ben Arfa down the right of the area. Another defensive lapse, this time from Kieran Gibbs, allowed the Frenchman to turn inside far too easily, before unleashing a low left-footed drive that beat Wojciech Szczesny at his near post.

Newcastle's joy was short-lived, though, as Arsenal got back on level terms within a minute of going behind. Walcott crossed in from the right and Mike Williamson inexcusably allowed Van Persie to turn far too easily before dispatching a low finish past Krul.

Arsenal continued to push Newcastle back with their neat possession play, but Newcastle were able to hold firm as the home side's play began to lose impetus with the first-half winding down.

Van Persie had a great opportunity to put his side in front early in the second period when Mikel Arteta's curled pass into the area found the usually clinical marksman right in front of goal. On his weaker right foot, though, the Dutch striker could only direct a tame shot straight at Krul.

Arsenal were to have an even better chance to take the lead in the 67th minute through Tomas Rosicky. After some impressive trickery Walcott laid the ball on a plate for the Czech midfielder, but somehow Rosicky skewed his shot into the turf and out for a throw-in,

The chances kept coming for Arsenal yet they continued to be spurned. The best of them late-on fell to substitute Gervinho, who scuffed his left-footed shot wide of the post from just a few meters out.

But just when it seemed that a winner would never come, the ball arrived to Vermaelen at the back post, who finished right-footed from close range.

A2-1N by footyroom