Arsenal 1 Newcastle United 0
( Koscielny 72 )

Laurent Koscielny struck late in the second half to spare Arsenal’s blushes against a well drilled Newcastle United at the Emirates stadium, when the visitors looked to have done enough to claim a point. However, Koscielny’s third Premier League goal of the season proved to be enough to give Arsenal all three points in a game which on the evidence here proved well short of their famed passing game. To play below yourself and win is a mark of champions, but the Gunners did just enough to ensure that this off day didn’t affect their title ambitions too badly.

Arsene Wenger made three changes from the side which beat Bournemouth and having scored his first ever Arsenal goal, Gabriel was rewarded with a spot on the bench with Laurent Koscielny returning to partner Per Mertersacker in defence.

Arsenal started brightly with Hector Bellerin’s right sided forays spreading panic in the visitors defence. Daryl Janmaat cleared from one such attack and when Ayoze Perez slipped to allow Bellerin free access, the Gunners’ defender’s cross was good, but that wouldn’t be how you could describe Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s effort on goal which flew wide of target.

Amid incessant North London drizzle, Arsenal’s early bright inventive play seemed to disappear as Newcastle began to find their feet.

Georginio Wijnaldum worked a good header which required the attentions of Petr Cech and again the Arsenal ‘keeper stayed alert to Jack Colback’s follow up.

Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott switched wings and the former was getting more joy from the left. The England attacker created a strong run bypassing the attentions of those defenders wearing black and white stripes to set up Olivier Giroud. The France striker hit low and hard, but saw his effort deflected for a corner.

The visitors found their game of strength and containment was frustrating the Gunners. Moussa Sissoko and Chacel Mbemba were proving to be a handful, as was Wijnaldum.

Two minutes before the break, the Dutch midfielder was again denied by Cech as the Arsenal defence backed off, with Alexsander Mitrovic seeing his overhead kick saved by Cech as Newcastle finished the half on the front foot, with Cech also denying Wijnaldum again.

That would continue shortly after the restart when the visitors should’ve taken the lead. On the break, Wijnaldum found himself one on one with Cech, however the Arsenal keeper used all his agility and know how to spread himself to keep the scores at 0-0. Then Mitrovic snapped his shot over the bar after Sissoko’s cross was perfectly laid back to find the Serbian striker.

Moments later, Monreal fed Giroud and his flicked chance should’ve been taken, but Rob Elliot’s goal remained intact.

Arsenal had to respond from an unfamiliar sight of too many misplaced passes and loss of defensive concentration which was energising their visitors .

Koscielny took it upon himself to run from deep and find Giroud. His effort was off target but at least it symbolised positive intent from the home side.

Back game the Magpies with Sissoko being allowed to cross unchallenged for Mbemba to powerfully head over Cech’s bar.

Wenger cut a frustrated figure on the touchline and especially with Newcastle’s apparent time wasting tactics. He replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain with Joel Campbell after 68 minutes, and the Costa Rican made his presence felt instantaneously charging around in his now familiar energetic style. The game needed that influx of energy, determination and in his current form, Campbell was just what Arsenal needed.

There was belief when Özil swung over a corner 18 minutes before time. Giroud made a menace of himself and although his jump didn’t connect with the ball, Paul Dummett rose and thought his header had cleared the danger, but Giroud rose for a second time to head the ball. This time, the ball fell to Koscielny close in and he cooly struck on the volley past Elliot for the games’ opener.

There was relief all all around the Emirates stadium now as the Gunners went searching for a second goal. Monreal and Ramsey combined on the left for a cross which Walcott could only hit over the target.

Newcastle responded with Mitrovic heading over Cech’s goal and Wijnaldum heading over from substitute Florian Thauvin’s cross.

More good work from Campbell, let Ramsey in, but he saw his effort denied by an excellent Elliot save at his near post.

Another Arsenal break and Ramsey found Özil. He raced away on the left then returned the ball to Ramsey. The Arsenal number 16 took two touches to beat two defenders before striking a well hot shot just wide of Elliot’s upright.

The move deserved a goal, and gave a glimpse of the football Arsenal usually play. The trick of not performing at your absolute best, yet still winning all three points however will no doubt suit Wenger’s side in crucial games to come. This win takes Arsenal two points clear at the Premier League summit.