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Birthday boy Santi, Giroud gun down Magpies

CAZORLA-NEWCASTLELONDON, December 13- Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla each scored twice as Arsenal beat Newcastle United 4-1 in the Premier League on Saturday to ease the pressure on long-serving manager Arsene Wenger.

Wenger was verbally abused by a small group of fans following Arsenal’s 3-2 loss at Stoke City last weekend, but he was serenaded by the home support after his side put Newcastle to the sword at the Emirates Stadium.

Newcastle were second-best from the first whistle and could have no complaints about the scoreline, which left them in seventh place in the table, three points behind sixth-place Arsenal.

Arsenal’s injury woes have mounted to such an extent that right-back Mathieu Debuchy was pressed into an emergency centre-back role against Alan Pardew’s previously in-form side.

While Pardew crowned his fourth anniversary at St James’ Park with an impressive 2-1 win over Chelsea last weekend, Wenger had begun to feel the heat from elements of Arsenal’s fanbase.

But Arsenal almost handed their under-fire manager an ideal start via Per Mertesacker.

The German defender saw his eighth-minute header from Cazorla’s corner rattle the crossbar and bounce to safety.

But it was not long before Arsenal drew first blood, as Giroud pounced in the 15th minute.

The Frenchman sprayed a pass wide to Alexis Sanchez and then galloped into the box, getting a run on Daryl Janmaat in the process, to head home the Chilean’s subsequent cross.

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Barely two minutes later, the home fans were on their feet when Danny Welbeck found the bottom corner, only for referee Lee Mason to penalise the England striker for tripping Janmaat in the build-up.

– Giroud’s exquisite finish –

It was all Arsenal, and Welbeck came close to adding a second goal when he saw his volley from Sanchez’s scooped pass fly just wide.

However, for all Arsenal’s dominance, it took a fine double save from goalkeeper Wojciech Szczensy to thwart Yoan Gouffran and Papiss Cisse in the 33rd minute.

That was a warning sign for Arsenal, who were entitled to feel aggrieved after Mason awarded a free-kick rather than a penalty after Paul Dummett tripped Sanchez on the edge of his own area just before the interval.

Sanchez was proving a real nuisance for Newcastle and it was no surprise to see him carve out Cazorla’s 54th-minute goal.

The former Barcelona forward played a pass into the box from the left and Cazorla eluded Fabricio Coloccini’s sprawling challenge before elegantly chipping Jak Alnwick to crown his 30th birthday in style.

Four minutes, later Arsenal extended their lead through Giroud, who produced an exquisite finish with the outside of his foot to steer Hector Bellerin’s low cross into the roof of the net at the near post.

Arsenal were cruising, but clean sheets have been a rarity this season for Wenger’s men and this game was to prove no exception.

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Jack Colback’s free-kick from the left allowed Ayoze Perez to glance a header past Szczesny and throw the visitors a 63rd-minute lifeline.

But Arsenal quickly regained control, and after Kieran Gibbs had fired into the side-netting, Cazorla made it 4-1 with a classy chipped penalty following a foul on Welbeck by Dummett.

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