Arsenal moved two points clear of Leicester at the top of the Premier League table with a win over Newcastle. The unconvincing Gunners looked set for a point on a soggy Emirates Stadium pitch until defender Laurent Koscielny came to the rescue with a close-range poked winner in the 72nd minute. The Magpies should have come away with at least a point, having been on the front foot for much of the second half. Georginio Wijnaldum went closest but his shot was saved by Petr Cech.
It was not pretty, nor was it particularly effective but it was a win that kept the belief going among Arsenal fans that this might be their season. The Gunners may not deserve the three points, and few would have begrudged the Magpies victory, but the goal encapsulated why Arsenal are top and why the visitors are struggling. Newcastle striker Ayoze Perez covered a lot of ground, helping out his team-mates in midfield to quell the danger posed by the likes of Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. However, the young Spaniard switched off in the 72nd minute, allowing Koscielny to stick out a foot and convert an Olivier Giroud header. The Magpies midfield dominated their counterparts for periods of the match. The wingers did not look up for the battle, with Oxlade-Chamberlain only winning 33.3% of his duels, while Theo Walcott won 36.4% of his – the two lowest figures in the Arsenal side.
Arsenal have won nine successive Premier League games against Newcastle. The Magpies have scored just six goals in their last 16 Premier League away trips. Koscielny has scored three goals against Newcastle, more than he has any other Premier League opponent. Wenger has won 11 of his 12 Premier League meetings with Steve McClaren, losing the other. The Gunners are unbeaten in nine Premier League home games, winning seven and drawing two and now sit 2 points clear at the top of the Premier League with 42 points.