Arsenal 1 Newcastle United 0
Özil 23

A Mesut Özil moment of brilliance was the difference between Arsenal and Newcastle United at the Emirates stadium, although with their superior possession and passing game, the Gunners should have had much more than the German’s solitary stunning first half volley. On the back foot and under the cosh for the majority of the match, Newcastle stirred for the final ten plus minutes of this game and almost grabbed an equaliser, as the hitherto sound Arsenal back four looked anything but composed and comfortable. Careless loss of possession, combined with a resurgent Magpies tested the nerves of the Emirates stadium faithful, but Petr Cech held firm. At the final whistle it was the Gunners who had grabbed the win, their first in the Premier League in December.

Alexandre Lacazette came in for Olivier Giroud, in the only change from the side which drew blanks at West Ham in midweek, with Jack Wilshere starting his second consecutive Premier League fixture of the season.

Arsenal started brightly and saw good combinations of play between Hector Bellerin and Alexis Sanchez, with quick passing neat touch football but found a resolute Newcastle in determined mood to keep them at bay. Lacazette had an early chance which should have found the target and new left back Ainsley Maitland-Niles saw a strong run and shot whistle just past Rob Elliot’s upright.

The lack of final shot was grating on the frayed nerves of the Emirates crowd, but these were soothed midway through the first half. Alex Iwobi played in Alexis, and his on target shot was blocked. With the ball still in the air, Özil had his eye firmly fixed on it’s path and caught it on the volley to strike past Elliot for a stunning opener. The visitors were stunned and began to retreat into their shell, as the Gunners looked to add to their lead.

That didn’t happen as the teams went in at 1-0 to the Arsenal at the break. The visitors knew they had to try to rekindle the play which saw their captain Jamaal Lascelles force Petr Cech into a save, rising unmarked to head a free-kick on target early on, but it was Arsenal who continued to dominate. Wilshere is a joy to watch when in full flight and his shot from Giroud’s knock back went straight to the grateful Elliot. Either side of the Magpies keeper and it’d been the Gunners’ second.

Rafa Benitez has seen an alarming decline in his side’s fortunes, and a tenth straight Premier League defeat looked like being averted when Dwight Gayle was introduced. He re-energised the visitors as Ayoze Perez twice went close. The Gunners seemed to have lost their poise, as passes went missing and Granit Xhaka in particular almost cost his side. Nacho Monreal was given the aerial run around, but Cech was not to be beaten. Francis Coqulein came on to shore up the defence, with Danny Welbeck adding to the strike force as Arsenal held out for a famous scoreline win.

Next up in the Premier League sees the arrival of Liverpool. Arsene Wenger will be looking for payback from the Merseyside mailing the Gunners received in the fixture reverse.