Arsene Wenger’s side staggered past the line, courtesy a Laurent Koscielny goal in the second half after an underwhelming performance against Newcastle United on a rainy evening at the Emirates. The win gives the Gunners a two-point lead at the top of the table after contenders Leicester played a goalless draw against a resilient Bournemouth.
Goal scorer Laurent Koscielny, Mathieu Flamini, and Nacho Monreal were brought back into the team for Gabriel, Chambers, and Kieran Gibbs from the team that beat Bournemouth on Monday.
The Gunners started on the front foot with Hector Bellerin finding space on the right-hand side, twice in the first two minutes but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain couldn’t capitalize on one such occasion. Steve McClaren’s side then grew into the game due to Arsenal’s incompetence to probe more openings.
Arsenal saw plenty of possession but could not create anything out of it, except for once when Oxlade-Chamberlain put Giroud through only for Coloccini to timely block an otherwise good attempt by the home side. Newcastle United then grew into confidence but Aleksander Mitrovic could not capitalize off a mistake from Bellerin in our half that saw the Serbian take a lot of time to get a shot away with just one defender to beat.
Here are the Player Ratings: [Player Ratings] Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle: Petr Cech shows his class
Mitrovic’s overhead attempt was saved well by Petr Cech; who also saved a Wijnaldum shot due to a Ramsey error. The teams went 0-0 into half time with more chances falling to the Magpies than the Gunners.
In the second minute of the second half, Wijnaldum was again presented with a beautiful shot at goal, this time with Mitrovic playing him through after Nacho Monreal failed to track back. Petr Cech kept his cool and came out to rush the Dutch attacker into a shot which was magnificently blocked. Newcastle again went close to scoring when Ayoze Perez failed to put the ball into the back of the net off a Sissoko cross. It would really be an understatement to say that Petr Cech kept Arsenal alive in the game; the veteran now has 171 PL clean sheets to his name.
Arsenal then broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute from their sixth corner of the game; delivered by Mesut Ozil, Giroud kept the ball alive with two headers in the box, the second one falling right within the reach of Laurent Koscielny who turned the ball home to give an undeserving lead to the Gunners.
Joel Campbell was brought on for Chamberlain minutes prior to the goal and Theo Walcott made way for Kieran Gibbs minutes after it. This was a move made by Arsene Wenger to shut out the game. And Giroud made way for Chambers in the last couple of minutes.
Aaron Ramsey found himself with two glorious chances to score in the dying minutes of the game but the Wales International drew a good save from Elliott before shooting wide for the latter.
Overall, it was a pretty disappointing performance by the Gunners against a team that has been struggling in the relegation zone. But ultimately, it wins like these that affirm our intentions towards the title. Until next time.