Arsenal closed in on another shot at UEFA 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 English Premier League following another lacklustre display - 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 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 moved 3-0 ahead on 66 minutes when Ozil's inch-perfect cross was headed in by Olivier Giroud.
Arsenal 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.