Tue, Oct 18, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Skipper inspires Gunners, Magpies remain unbeaten


Tottenham Hotspur’s Jermain Defoe, left, shoots past Newcastle United’s Cheik Tiote, center, in their Premier League match in Newcastle, England, on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Captain Robin van Persie struck twice to inspire Arsenal to a much-needed 2-1 victory over Sunderland and Newcastle United scored late to maintain their unbeaten Premier League record in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Newcastle twice came from behind, Shola Ameobi netting their second goal in the 86th minute, to remain the only club apart from leaders Manchester City and champions Manchester United yet to lose in the league this season.

Spurs midfielder Rafael van der Vaart’s 40th-minute penalty was canceled out by Demba Ba’s strike shortly after the break, before substitute Jermain Defoe tipped the game in the visitors’ favor midway through the second half.

However, Newcastle showed their good start was no fluke when Ameobi fired an unstoppable shot in from a tight angle to rescue a point that kept his club fourth.

“We are feeling confident and we played very well today against one of the top teams,” Newcastle manager Alan Pardew told Sky Sports after a game that only really came to life in the second half. “We are in a great period ... We are going to be a dangerous side against the top teams, as well as everybody else.”

The point kept Spurs sixth in the table and manager Harry Redknapp was disappointed not to have taken all three after the introduction of Defoe gave his side new verve.

“Jermain came on and scored the goal, and I felt at that stage we could go and nick another goal,” he said.

Tottenham’s north London rivals, Arsenal, had a better day against opponents from the northeast as they went ahead against visiting Sunderland with less than 30 seconds on the clock.

Gervinho surged down the left and crossed for the inspirational van Persie to shoot into the bottom corner and the hosts dominated the early stages with a confidence they have rarely shown during a miserable start to the season, but they let Sunderland into the game when Mikel Arteta conceded a free-kick which Seb Larsson struck beautifully over the wall to equalize against his former club on 31 minutes.

Arsenal had goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to thank when his point-blank save denied an unmarked Lee Cattermole shortly before halftime and they had to wait until eight minutes from time for van Persie to snatch the victory.

The Dutchman more than matched the quality of Larsson’s free-kick with one of his own that curled over the wall to lift Arsenal up to 10th in the league with only their third victory in eight games.

“We had a good start for 25 minutes, but as soon as Sunderland equalized the confidence started to wobble a bit,” Wenger said. “The second half was all us ... but we needed something special from Robin van Persie to make the difference ... When you need something special in game, that’s where you see great players and that’s what you saw today. What matters for us at the moment is the three points. [Confidence] comes back with points. The spirit is great in the team.”

Van Persie had also hit the post in the 12th minute and he was lively throughout after he reassured fans in his program notes that he was committed to the club, despite an impending house sale.

Defeat left Sunderland just above the relegation zone in 17th and turned up the heat on manager Steve Bruce.

“We’ll stick with it and we’ll turn it around,” Bruce said. “We’ve had a disappointing start, we can’t disguise that.”

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