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Bayern Munich 5 Arsenal 1

Arsenal’s Champions League hopes lie in tatters at the last-16 stage yet again following a first-leg battering at Bayern Munich. The Gunners, who have been eliminated in the first knockout round of the competition in each of the last six seasons, twice by Bayern, not only conceded five goals but over 75% possession in Germany. Their challenge lasted until the break thanks to Alexis Sanchez, who followed up his own missed penalty to equalise after Arjen Robben’s superbly-struck 25-yard opener. But after Arsenal lost Laurent Koscielny to injury early in the second half, Bayern ran riot during a 10-minute period in which Robert Lewandowski headed home before Thiago Alcantara scored twice. Substitute Thomas Muller rubbed salt in the wounds with a late fifth.

It leaves Arsenal with a near impossible task in the second leg and heaps more pressure on manager Arsene Wenger, who now only has the FA Cup as a realistic source of silverware in what will go down as another failed season. There must have been a feeling of deflated dread for Arsenal when they were drawn to face Bayern in the first knockout round of this season’s Champions League. For the first time in five seasons, the Gunners claimed top spot in their group (ahead of PSG, who made this achievement even more impressive with their demolition of Barcelona on Tuesday) but nonetheless they were drawn against the Germans – their last-16 conquerors in both 2012-13 and 2013-14. Their fears were fully realised on a chastening night in Munich, which further highlighted just how far behind Europe’s leading lights they have fallen and how little progress has been made since their visit here last season, which also ended in a 5-1 hammering.

The optimism Arsenal had accrued from their encouraging pre-break efforts were dashed in a 15-minute period early in the second half, that began with Koscielny – their best defender – limping from the field and ended with Thiago putting the tie beyond them. Four minutes after Gabriel had replaced his captain at the back, Bayern reclaimed the lead as Lewandowski rose high above compatriot Shkodran Mustafi to meet Philipp Lahm’s excellent cross and head home his 31st goal in 34 games for club and country this season. The Pole then turned provider for Thiago, backheeling the ball into his path for a simple finish before the Spaniard quickly added his second courtesy of a shot that deflected in off Xhaka’s boot. Only some lax finishing, the woodwork (from a deflected Lewandowski shot) and a superb David Ospina save to tip over Javi Martinez’s header from a corner prevented further goals before late substitute Muller scored with essentially his first contribution, collecting from Thiago before sidefooting home. Muller’s late goal surely represented the final nail in the Gunners’ coffin and leaves Wenger now facing an uncomfortable, undesirable truth – that his side’s season boils down to an FA Cup game on a plastic pitch in Sutton.

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Arsenal 2 Hull City 0

Alexis Sanchez scored twice as title-chasing Arsenal beat relegation-threatened Hull in controversial circumstances in the Premier League. The hosts had been on top when the ball came off forward Sanchez’s hand and ended up in the net on 34 minutes. He added a penalty in injury-time which was awarded after Sam Clucas was sent off for handball from Lucas Perez’s header. In between, Hector Bellerin and Sanchez both failed to hit the target and Mesut Ozil volleyed over the crossbar for Arsenal. Striker Oumar Niasse had Hull’s best chances – his header and low strike forced Petr Cech into sharp saves – while Adama Diomande nodded over late on.

Arsenal had been pressing for the opener before Sanchez’s intervention. The visitors failed to clear Kieran Gibbs’ low shot and as the ball ricocheted off goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic on the ground it bounced off the Chilean’s hand and into the net. On this occasion, Sanchez did not look like he purposefully pushed the ball into the net and he had little time to move out of the way after the ball came off Jakupovic. After consultation with his assistant, referee Mark Clattenburg awarded the goal, but prior to that in the first half, Theo Walcott had a shot blocked by the hand of Clucas inside the area, for which no penalty was given. After the game, Hull defender Andrew Robertson told Sky Sports that Clattenburg had apologised to the Hull players after half-time. Robertson added: “The ref told us he didn’t give it because he wasn’t 100% sure. Not many referees can admit they’re wrong, so it’s good when he does, though it doesn’t make things better.”

Chasing the game in the second half, Hull’s Lazar Markovic was running onto a long punt forward deep in the Arsenal half. The Serb was barged down by Gibbs, who was the last defender, and had the on-loan Liverpool man not been infringed, he would have had a clear run through on goal from 30 yards. Clattenburg spotted the incident and presented a yellow card. Gibbs said after the game: “I took a chance with the challenge on Markovic. The ref said the ball was going away from goal.” When asked if Gibbs should have been sent off, Hull boss Marco Silva said: “Yes. It is true. Markovic go to the goal.” With Hull pushing for an equaliser, they were hit on the counter by the home side. Jakupovic came sprinting off his line as Sanchez went round him and picked out Perez at the back post, but the Spaniard’s goal-bound header was kept out by Clucas’ arm on the line. Clucas was given a red card for the incident. Sanchez stepped up to take the penalty, drilling a low finish into the net, which was his seventh goal against Hull in just four games. It was also his 17th top-flight strike this season, making him the league’s leading marksman.

Arsenal had lost back-to-back league games against Watford and Chelsea to leave their title challenge in disarray. But the win moves them up to third in the table, nine points behind leaders Chelsea. For Hull, it was an unlucky defeat, having come close to scoring in both halves, but they have now failed to find the net in 12 of their 25 games – more than any other side. Despite the defeat, Tigers supporters will be buoyed by the impact made by new manager Silva as his side look well-equipped for a battle to stay in the top-flight, yet they remain in the relegation zone by a single point. Arsenal travel to Bayern Munich for the Champions League last-16 first leg fixture on Wednesday (kick-off 19:45 GMT), while Hull host Burnley in the Premier League next Saturday.

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Chelsea 3 Arsenal 1

Chelsea tightened their grip on the Premier League title race and delivered a blow to Arsenal’s aspiraions with a convincing victory at Stamford Bridge. Manager Arsene Wenger, watching from the stands as he served the third of a four-match touchline ban, was hoping Arsenal could respond to Tuesday’s shock home defeat by Watford – but Chelsea exerted their authority to leave the Gunners 12 points behind the leaders. Marcos Alonso gave Chelsea the lead after 13 minutes, heading home after Diego Costa’s header came back off the bar. Arsenal were unhappy with Alonso’s challenge on Hector Bellerin that saw the defender take a heavy blow to the head which forced his substitution, but referee Martin Atkinson saw nothing wrong. Eden Hazard made the decisive contribution with a magnificent solo goal eight minutes after half-time, leaving a trail of Arsenal players in his wake in a run from the halfway line before beating Petr Cech.

The goalkeeper’s poor clearance gifted substitute Cesc Fabregas Chelsea’s third, five minutes from time, and Olivier Giroud’s late goal barely counted as consolation for Arsenal. The visitors had chances but saw Thibaut Courtois save well from Gabriel, Mesut Ozil and Danny Welbeck. Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premier League was 12 points at the conclusion of this victory – and to underscore the scale of their improvement, it is worth going back to the first meeting between these clubs at Arsenal in September. Their 3-0 loss to the Gunners left Chelsea in eighth place and eight points behind then-leaders Manchester City after six games. This proved to be a watershed moment for the Blues and manager Antonio Conte. In the intervening 18 games after Conte switched to his preferred three-man central defensive system, they have won 16 league games, lost at Spurs and drawn at Liverpool. It has been a powerhouse run that has effectively brought a 20-point swing in the title race. Chelsea once more looked the model of efficiency, although they conceded more chances than Conte would have liked, with N’Golo Kante a tireless midfield influence.

The Italian wanted to make amends for that heavy loss at Emirates Stadium and he had the players and system to do it in style. And when they have individuals who can produce game-defining moments like Hazard, it is almost impossible to see any way they will leave the door far enough ajar for any of their pursuers to squeeze through. Conte’s celebration after Hazard’s goal showed how much the win meant to him. Arsenal’s loss here at Stamford Bridge caps a dreadful week for the Gunners and manager Wenger – watching from the stands as their title hopes were surely snuffed out for another year. First they were knocked off course by that defeat by Watford and here they were beaten by a Chelsea side that looked like everything Arsenal did not. Strong, streetwise, ruthless and confident. Wenger’s side were limp in the opening phases, not even getting a touch in the Chelsea penalty area for 35 minutes and when chances did come along they were squandered. Wenger can make all the usual positive noises but this was, ultimately, an emphatic beating and barring a dramatic and unforeseen turn of events, the wait for their first title since the year of “The Invincibles” in 2003-04 will go on. A single banner saying “Enough Is Enough. Time To Go” was held aloft in the Arsenal end – but it was almost a token gesture of defiance, rather like Giroud’s late goal.

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Southampton 0 Arsenal 5

Theo Walcott struck a hat-trick and Danny Welbeck marked his first start since May 2016 with two goals and an outstanding individual performance as Arsenal thrashed Southampton to reach the FA Cup fifth round. In a tie played out between two much-changed line-ups, Arsenal ruthlessly outclassed Southampton as Claude Puel’s side came crashing down to earth after reaching the EFL Cup final with victory at Liverpool on Wednesday. Welback, back in the starting line-up after that lengthy absence following knee surgery, put Arsenal in control with two cool finishes inside the first 22 minutes then set up Arsenal’s third for Walcott before half-time. The Gunners, with manager Arsene Wenger watching from the stands as he starts a four-match touchline ban, heaped further misery on Southampton after the break, sending on Alexis Sanchez as substitute to create two comfortable finishes for Saints product Walcott.

This was Welbeck’s first start since May 2016 but there was not the slightest sign of rustiness as he settled to his task as if he had never been away. Welbeck’s end product has occasionally drawn criticism but it was as smooth as silk here, taking Lucas Perez’s pass to loft a clever finish over Southampton’s stand-in keeper Harry Lewis for his first, drawing Wenger out of his seat in the stand in delight. He was at it again seven minutes later, bringing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s floated pass under his spell before showing composure once more to beat Lewis. Welbeck then showed his awareness and value as a team player to cross for Walcott to react before any Southampton defender for a simple close-range strike for Arsenal’s third. Welbeck is due a run of good fortune with injuries and he demonstrated here that he brings tireless effort and work-rate to Arsenal’s team as well as a goal threat. If he can finally put a run of games together after his long absence, he will be a key asset for Wenger. Wenger wisely withdrew him after 64 minutes with the game safe, to a fully deserved standing ovation from the travelling fans. There was a mood of celebration around St Mary’s as supporters arrived for this FA Cup fourth-round tie – and rightly so after the outstanding victory over two legs against Liverpool sent them into the EFL Cup final against Manchester United at Wembley on 26 February.

Saints’ boss Puel pointed clearly to his priorities with 10 changes from the team that won at Anfield, only defender Jack Stephens keeping his place in the starting line-up. And how it showed as Southampton played like strangers to be ripped apart by Arsenal. The party mood was deflated but Saints fans were in forgiving mood, with even the smattering of boos at half-time and at the end sounding very half-hearted, as if this team selection and Anfield hangover was to be expected. Wenger watched this emphatic Arsenal display from the comfort of a seat in the stand at St Mary’s. He was serving the first game in a four-match touchline suspension after accepting a Football Association charge of misconduct for verbally abusing and pushing fourth official Anthony Taylor in the win against Burnley at Emirates Stadium.

Wenger, who was also fined £25,000, barely had a moment of discomfort as his right-hand man Steve Bould took charge on the touchline. There is no doubt the Gunners’ boss would have preferred to be in his usual position on the touchline – but he was able to sit back and relax as Arsenal cruised into the FA Cup Fifth round. Theo Walcott scored his fifth Arsenal hat-trick and was the first Arsenal player since Nicklas Bendtner against Leyton Orient in March 2011 to score an FA Cup hat-trick. Welbeck scored and assisted in the same game for the first time since September 2014 against Aston Villa. Arsenal won an away game by five clear goals for the first time since August 2009 against Everton (6-1). The Saints recorded their heaviest home FA Cup defeat since February 1910, when they lost 5-0 to Manchester City. This was Southampton’s joint-heaviest defeat at the St Mary’s Stadium, equalling their 6-1 loss to Liverpool in the League Cup last season. Lucas Perez has been involved in eight goals in eight starts for Arsenal in all competitions (five goals, three assists) and assisted Welbeck’s first goal in this game. Southampton have conceded twice or more in eight of their past nine FA Cup matches against top-flight opponents, doing so in each of their past five. Walcott has scored seven goals in his past four away FA Cup matches. Alexis Sanchez has had a hand in 11 goals in 10 FA Cup games for Arsenal (five goals, six assists). Walcott was the first player to score an FA Cup hat-trick against the Saints since Paul Rideout did so for Tranmere in February 2001, in their famous 4-3 victory.

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Arsenal 2 Burnley 1

Alexis Sanchez scored a 98th-minute penalty as 10-man Arsenal recovered from conceding in injury time to claim a thrilling win over Burnley at Emirates Stadium. The Gunners’ title chances appeared to have been derailed as substitute Francis Coquelin fouled Ashley Barnes in the 93rd minute and Andre Gray converted from the spot to level after Shkodran Mustafi’s header had finally broken Burnley’s resistance. But, after Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was sent to the stands for protesting referee Jon Moss’ decision, Ben Mee was then penalised for a high foot on Laurent Koscielny in the Burnley area, and Sanchez deceived Clarets keeper Tom Heaton with a Panenka-style penalty.

The hosts had dominated for most of the game until Granit Xhaka’s second dismissal of the season for a reckless two-footed lunge on Steven Defour, from which Burnley profited, only for Sanchez to claim all three points in impudent fashion. Arsenal’s fifth consecutive league victory at home lifts them above Liverpool and Tottenham, who both dropped points on Saturday, but they remain eight points behind leaders Chelsea, who beat Hull 2-0 on Sunday. The result also means Burnley’s dismal away record this season continues, with Sean Dyche’s side having collected only one point from a possible 30 on the road. Heading into the seven minutes of added time, it appeared Arsenal had done enough to repel Burnley despite going down to 10 men, only for Coquelin to make a rash tackle on Barnes, with Moss showing no hesitation in awarding the penalty. Wenger protested and was sent to the stands but it was a clear trip and Gray converted, despite Petr Cech getting a firm hand on his shot.

Burnley boss Dyche was similarly aggrieved moments later as Moss penalised Mee for a high foot on Koscielny, who appeared to be offside when the free-kick was flighted in to the back post, but once that was missed, a penalty was a fair result for the challenge. Sanchez, who had earlier curled two efforts narrowly over either side of the interval, had one last moment of panache left, coolly chipping his effort straight down the middle as Heaton dived to his right, securing a vital win. An entertaining, if slightly routine, game had its complexion changed on 65 minutes when Xhaka’s needless challenge on Defour saw him sent off by referee Moss after consultation with the linesman. The 24-year-old’s dismissal was his fifth in the league since the start of last season – more than any other player in Europe’s top five divisions – and his second of this campaign, having also been sent off by Moss against Swansea in October. His ninth red card in three seasons could have an adverse effect on Arsenal’s title hopes with the midfielder now banned for the next four matches, including a crucial Premier League match at Chelsea on 4 February. Prior to his reckless tackle, Xhaka displayed his impressive range of passing, releasing the likes of Mesut Ozil and Sanchez from deep and showing why he will be missed.

Xhaka’s red also sparked an ill-disciplined end to the game for Arsenal, with Mustafi booked for dissent and Wenger also sent off for a futile protest against Burnley’s penalty, for which he later apologised. “I didn’t see any penalty from outside but I should have shut up and I apologise, even if I was frustrated,” said the Arsenal boss once tensions had cooled. Sanchez’s late winner provided a sickening end note for Dyche – who was taking charge of his 200th Burnley game – after he had appeared to get his tactics just right for long periods of the game. Despite not electing to use a five-man midfield to try and match Arsenal, his side were disciplined in staying behind the ball to force the hosts into attempting increasingly elaborate ways of opening them up, while the pace of Gray kept Mustafi and Koscielny honest on the break. The nature of Arsenal’s opener will therefore irk Dyche, as Mustafi was easily able to free himself of the Burnley defence’s attention to apply a simple finish to Ozil’s corner, with no-one stationed on the back post. With Arsenal down to 10 men, Dyche sent on Joey Barton and Sam Vokes and though Cech was rarely called into action, they applied enough pressure to induce a mistake as Gray scored the equaliser Burnley perhaps deserved.

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Swansea 0 Arsenal 4

Arsenal returned to the top four with a handsome victory at Swansea City, consigning Paul Clement to a demoralising defeat in his first Premier League game in charge of the hosts. Having initially been frustrated by their opponents, the Gunners led at half-time thanks to Olivier Giroud’s powerful, close-range finish. Alex Iwobi’s strike looped in via a big deflection off Jack Cork to double their advantage, and Kyle Naughton scored a second Swansea own goal when he turned another Iwobi shot into his own net. Alexis Sanchez completed the rout to lift Arsenal up to third in the table, while Hull’s win over Bournemouth means Swansea return to the bottom of the table. Despite some encouraging signs early in the game, this was a stark reminder to former Bayern Munich assistant manager Clement of the enormous task he faces to steer the Swans to safety.

By contrast, the ruthless nature of Arsenal’s display – particularly in an extremely one-sided second half – will surely give Arsene Wenger renewed hope of mounting a serious title challenge. The Gunners’ bid for a first title since 2004 had stuttered lately, largely due to an away record of one point from their past three Premier League matches on the road. Although they started slowly against the high-pressing Swans, the visitors settled thanks to a goal from an increasingly reliable source. Giroud started this game with 12 goals from his past 17 shots on target, and the France striker was clinical with his first effort on this occasion, seizing on Mesut Ozil’s blocked header and firing the ball into the roof of the net from six yards. Arsenal took control from that point and a period of concerted pressure early in the second half saw the floodgates open.

There was an element of luck about the second and third goals, but they were no more than the Gunners deserved for their dominance of possession and inventive use of it around the Swansea penalty area. The irrepressible Sanchez finally got in on the act after 73 minutes, volleying in from close range to score his 21st goal in 32 Premier League appearances. Arsenal have scored 27 goals away from home in the Premier League this season, at least five more than any other side. The Gunners have scored four or more goals in four away Premier League games this season, their most in a single campaign since 2002-03. Giroud has scored in each of his past nine starts, netting 11 goals in total. Sanchez has been involved in more goals (21) than any other Premier League player this season (14 goals, seven assists).

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Preston North End 1 Arsenal 2

Arsenal progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup as Oliver Giroud’s late goal saw off a spirited Preston at Deepdale. The Gunners had fallen behind to their Championship opponents when Callum Robinson took advantage of poor defending to finish from close range. Robinson then had a goal disallowed before Aaron Ramsey equalised early in the second half with a powerful drive. Giroud then sealed victory with his fourth goal in as many games. Wenger has now overseen 21 wins in the 21 FA Cup third-round games he has been in charge of at Arsenal, but it was far from a comfortable win after a disappointing first-half display in which Preston were unfortunate not to lead by more than one goal. Just four days ago, Arsene Wenger’s side produced a shambolic opening 45 minutes at Bournemouth that left them trailing 2-0 at half-time.

They managed to turn things around in the second half to rescue a 3-3 draw, but for Arsenal fans there will have been a worrying sense of deja vu during the early stages of the first half on Saturday. Preston, 11th in the Championship, have scored in every game they have played since 19 November and immediately had the Gunners defence on the back foot. Aiden McGeady’s creativity proved particularly troublesome for the visitors and the former Everton man played a pivotal role in Preston’s opener. He beat Ramsey with a clever spin before his pass between Nacho Monreal and Gabriel ricocheted into Robinson’s path and the forward fired home. The rest of the key chances in the first half fell Preston’s way, as David Ospina saved well from Ben Pearson before Robinson had a goal disallowed. But to Arsenal’s credit, they improved after the break. Ramsey’s strike came out of nothing as he drove in from the edge of the area and they were more successful at containing Preston’s attacks.

It looked like the tie was heading for a replay at Emirates Stadium but Giroud, who scored a 90th-minute equaliser against Bournemouth, left it late again and his deflected finish from Lucas Perez’s clever backheel in the final minute ended Preston’s resistance. Giroud’s long-term future at Arsenal had seemed uncertain as he started the campaign on the bench and had to wait until November to make his first start. However, the France striker has enjoyed a fine run of form since 26 December. He has scored four goals, including the winner against West Brom, the ‘scorpion’ goal against Crystal Palace and the dramatic Bournemouth equaliser. Against Preston he was made Arsenal captain for the first time – perhaps as reward for his recent resurgence – and the 30-year-old could prove crucial in their bid to end the season with silverware. Arsenal have progressed past the third round of the FA Cup in each of the past 21 seasons, the longest current run in the competition. Indeed, Arsene Wenger has never lost at this stage, with Arsenal last being eliminated by Sheffield United in 1996.

Olivier Giroud has scored in each of his past eight starts for Arsenal in all competitions, netting 10 goals in total. Despite having the same number of attempts as Arsenal in the first half (eight), Preston failed to muster a single shot after half-time. Arsenal have lost just one of their past 37 FA Cup ties against lower league opposition (0-1 v Blackburn in February 2013). Four of Aaron Ramsey’s five FA Cup goals have come in a third-round tie, with the other coming in the 2014 final. Preston have lost 15 of their past 16 FA Cup games against top-flight sides, with a solitary win coming at Derby in January 2008 (4-1).

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Bournemouth 3 Arsenal 3

Arsenal completed a dramatic comeback at Bournemouth as they rescued a point in injury time having fallen 3-0 behind. The Gunners looked destined for a third away league defeat in a row before a late rally that began with a diving Alexis Sanchez header and gathered momentum when a stunning Lucas Perez left-footed volley reduced the gap to a single goal. Bournemouth went down to 10 men when Simon Francis was sent off for a challenge on Aaron Ramsey and Arsenal capitalised as Olivier Giroud headed a 92nd-minute equaliser. The home side had overwhelmed the Gunners early on and taken the lead when Charlie Daniels cut inside Hector Bellerin and stroked a shot past on-rushing keeper Petr Cech.

Callum Wilson scored a penalty to extend Bournemouth’s lead and Ryan Fraser sent a shot through Cech’s legs for the Cherries’ third before the hour mark. But the hosts buckled under Arsenal’s late pressure as Arsene Wenger’s side moved eight points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea, who play Tottenham on Wednesday. Arsenal had produced a feeble display for 70 minutes and were second best in the face of Bournemouth’s energy and desire but that all changed when Sanchez headed in at the far post following Giroud’s flick-on. The momentum of the match changed and five minutes later Giroud clipped a lovely ball to substitute Perez and he sent an angled volley inside the far post. Francis’ sending-off helped Arsenal, although Cherries boss Eddie Howe felt it was a “harsh” decision by referee Michael Oliver. Giroud headed in from a Granit Xhaka cross as Bournemouth failed in their desperate attempts to hang on during six minutes of added time.

Arsenal have been accused of lacking the character to maintain a title challenge in recent seasons and they did little to change that perception before Sanchez’s goal. They were continually second best to the home side and frustrations rose to the surface in the first half. Sanchez and Ramsey exchanged angry words at 2-0 down, while Giroud showed his annoyance when Shkodran Mustafi failed to find him with a pass that went harmlessly out of play. That they regrouped in such thrilling manner was doubtless a relief but not one that entirely satisfied goalscorer Giroud. Even with the Arsenal comeback under way, Howe’s men had a chance to go 4-2 up when Dan Gosling turned superbly in the visitors’ area only to shoot well wide of Cech’s goal. A point keeps the Cherries ninth in the table.

Arsenal came back to draw a Premier League game from three goals down for the first time. Only Hull (nine) have conceded more Premier League penalties than Arsenal this season (six, level with Southampton). Charlie Daniels has provided more assists than any other Premier League defender since the start of last season (eight). Sanchez’s goal was Arsenal’s first shot on target in the match, in the 70th minute. Sanchez has now matched his Premier League goal tally from last season (13 in 20 games this season, compared with 13 in 30 games last season).

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Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 0

Olivier Giroud’s incredible scorpion kick set Arsenal on the way to a victory over Crystal Palace which moved them up to third in the Premier League. With a cross from Alexis Sanchez delivered behind him, Frenchman Giroud elastically reached the ball with his left foot, looping it over his head and in off the underside of the bar. An Alex Iwobi header gave Arsenal a scrappy second before Palace briefly rallied to force saves from home goalkeeper Petr Cech. The win moves the Gunners back to within nine points of leaders Chelsea, while Palace stay 17th, two points above the relegation zone. The visitors have won only once in 13 league games, with manager Sam Allardyce awaiting his first victory since taking over from Alan Pardew.

Giroud marked his return to the Arsenal starting line-up on Boxing Day by scoring the only goal in the win over West Bromwich Albion, and followed up here by pulling off one of the most memorable moments of this or any other season. Indeed, it was made all the more remarkable for its echoes of a similarly breathtaking goal scored by Manchester United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the defeat of Sunderland on Monday. If anything, Giroud’s was even more impressive, an acrobatic finish to a head-high cross delivered from the left by Sanchez at the end of a pacy Arsenal counter-attack. As the ball arrived, a sprinting Giroud turned to stick out his left foot, flicked the ball over his head and saw it arc over the leap of Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, off the woodwork and into the net.

Arsenal lost ground in the title race with defeats by Everton and Manchester City, and began this game in fifth place following Tottenham’s win at Watford. Giroud’s goal was the highlight of an otherwise lacklustre first half in which the only other moment of note was the Frenchman missing his kick attempting to meet a cross inside the six-yard box. Still, the Gunners’ threat was always apparent, particularly in the shape of the forward running of full-backs Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal, who tormented the Palace defence throughout. Monreal was involved in the second goal, providing a cross that was not dealt with, Iwobi heading in despite the efforts of Palace defender Joel Ward on the line. Olivier Giroud has scored eight goals in his past six starts for Arsenal in all competitions.

Sam Allardyce has never won at Arsenal as a manager in all competitions, drawing four and losing 12 of his 16 visits. Since joining the club, Alexis Sanchez has had a hand in 88 goals for Arsenal in all competitions (56 goals, 32 assists) – 26 more than any other Gunner. Arsenal have won 130 of their 200 Premier League games at the Emirates under Arsene Wenger (65%) – they won 72% of their league games at Highbury under the Frenchman (134/186). The Gunners have kept consecutive Premier League clean sheets at home for the first time this season, last doing so in their final three games of 2015-16.

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Arsenal 3 Stoke City 1

Arsenal moved top of the Premier League as they came from behind to beat Stoke at Emirates Stadium. The visitors took the lead through Charlie Adam’s penalty after Granit Xhaka elbowed Joe Allen. Theo Walcott turned in substitute Hector Bellerin’s cross just before half-time for his 100th club goal. Mesut Ozil headed over goalkeeper Lee Grant to give Arsenal the lead before substitute Alex Iwobi side-footed home the third. The Gunners leapfrog Chelsea on goals scored, with Antonio Conte’s side facing West Brom at Stamford Bridge on Sunday at 12:00 GMT.

Arsenal came into the game in great form after putting five past West Ham last Saturday and scoring four in Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday. Unbeaten in the league since an opening-day home defeat by Liverpool, that record looked in danger when Xhaka caught and cut Welshman Allen with his elbow, prompting referee Lee Mason to award the penalty from which Stoke scored. He did not show the Swiss a yellow card. The Gunners had already lost Shkodran Mustafi to injury, with the German later ruled out for at least three weeks. His replacement, Bellerin, had a superb game. The Spain right-back frequently drove forward and it was from his low cross that Walcott glanced the equaliser. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain chipped a wonderful pass over the Stoke defence for Ozil to head his ninth league goal of the season, with Potters right-back Erik Pieters still running back having had to leave the pitch following treatment.

Iwobi, who scored in Basel, ensured Arsenal moved top ahead of Chelsea, having scored four more goals than the Blues. They are level on 34 points with a goal difference of +21. Will Arsenal have the mental and physical stamina to still be in that position come the end of the season? Stoke were also in excellent form, winning five of their previous nine games and losing just one. They had only conceded five times in that run but history was not in their favour, having lost their past 14 visits to Arsenal and not winning there since August 1981. Marc Muniesa went close with an early 30-yard volley before Adam sent Petr Cech the wrong way to mark his 31st birthday with his first goal of the season. Twice Stoke came close to scoring only for Arsenal to score almost immediately afterwards. Marko Arnautovic threatened to make it 2-0 after an excellent run in the Gunners’ box but was crowded out just before Walcott’s equaliser. Mark Hughes’ side increasingly found themselves on the back foot in the second half but came close to an equaliser when Peter Crouch was brought on for a corner and immediately headed down to force a smart, low save from Cech. Within two minutes Iwobi made it 3-1 to put the game to bed.

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FC Basel 1 Arsenal 4

Arsenal finished top of Champions League Group A thanks to a Lucas Perez hat-trick in Basel and Paris St-Germain’s draw with Ludogorets Razgrad. PSG would have sealed top spot with victory, with anything less allowing in the Gunners, who took control through two Perez tap-ins. Perez drove in his third from the edge of the box and Alex Iwobi rolled in a fourth before Seydou Doumbia cut through for a Basel consolation. A 2-2 draw in Paris left Arsenal top of a group for the first time since 2011-12. Arsene Wenger’s side failed to make it past the last 16 that year, and have fallen at the first knockout stage in each of the past six seasons. Aside from breaking their run of second-placed group finishes, the Gunners have also gone through a group stage unbeaten for the first time since they reached the final in 2005-06.

A 2-2 draw at home against PSG in November looked to have consigned Arsenal to second place and, in theory, a harder assignment in the last 16. Their only hope of topping the group was help from Bulgarians Ludogorets, who twice led in Paris and, despite Angel di Maria’s late equaliser, held on to seal a place in the Europa League. As a result, Arsenal know they will avoid Barcelona and Monaco, who have knocked them out in the past two seasons respectively, as well as Atletico Madrid and Napoli in Monday’s draw. However, they will face one of:

  • Bayern Munich, their conquerors in 2013 and 2014
  • One of Borussia Dortmund or Real Madrid
  • Benfica
  • Bayer Leverkusen
  • One of Porto or FC Copenhagen
  • One of Juventus, Seville or Lyon

Spaniard Perez has struggled to make an impression since a £17m move from Deportivo La Coruna in August, making just one Premier League start and only finding the net with a double against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. Here he was twice in the right place at the right time, an empty net at his mercy first after Kieran Gibbs rolled the ball across goal, then when a Gibbs shot was parried, both strikes coming at the end of flowing passing moves. Perez completed his hat-trick soon after half-time, surging towards the Basel goal and angling a finish past a weak attempt at a save from home goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik. Arsenal were incisive and consistently dangerous on a freezing and misty night in Switzerland, with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil constantly linking – Sanchez’s delightful pass finding Ozil, who fed Iwobi from the left for the fourth.

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West Ham United 1 Arsenal 5

Alexis Sanchez’s fine hat-trick secured an emphatic victory over West Ham at London Stadium as Arsenal moved up to second in the Premier League table. Mesut Ozil opened the scoring with Arsenal’s first shot on target after Angelo Ogbonna’s mistake and Sanchez’s cut-back set up a simple finish. The Hammers threatened to equalise after the break before Sanchez turned, drove into the box and finished brilliantly past Darren Randolph. The Chilean added a second eight minutes later with a low strike into the corner, before Andy Carroll came on for a first appearance since 18 August and stooped to nod in the rebound from a Dimitri Payet free-kick that hit the bar. However, any faint hopes of a comeback were extinguished by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s excellent finish from range and Sanchez’s masterful dinked chip over the keeper.

The heavy defeat leaves Slaven Bilic’s side one point above the relegation zone after Sunderland beat Leicester 2-1 earlier on Saturday. Arsenal trail leaders Chelsea by three points but will slip to third if Liverpool win at Bournemouth on Sunday. Arsene Wenger’s side are now unbeaten in 13 league games, and their last away defeat was in February. There was a 10-minute second-half spell during which many Arsenal fans might have recognised the familiar beginnings of a slump to draw or defeat despite having dominated for much of the game. But Sanchez provided the match’s key moment when he killed Shkodran Mustafi’s booming pass from deep, turned past Anthony Makuanu and found the far angle of the net with brilliant ease with just under 20 minutes to play. Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny had been forced to clear a Manuel Lanzini cross bound for Ashley Fletcher from right underneath his own crossbar, West Ham’s record signing Andre Ayew had just come on, and Carroll – who scored a hat-trick against Arsenal in a 3-3 draw in April – was being readied for action. However, it was Sanchez’s force that proved the most compelling. Each of his three goals were superbly taken but it was the final, hat-trick goal that will live longest in the memory.

Played through by Oxlade-Chamberlain, he feigned a dummy shot to fool already defeated Hammers keeper Randolph before delicately lifting the ball into the net for what must be one of the goals of the season so far. There were 14 minutes and 29 seconds between the first and third goals of Alexis Sanchez’s hat-trick. Sanchez has been directly involved in six of Arsenal’s past eight Premier League goals (five goals, one assist). His tally for the season is 13 goals and nine assists from 19 matches in all competitions. No player has received more yellow cards this Premier League season than Winston Reid, with six. Ozil has equalled his Premier League goal tally of last season with eight goals.

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Arsenal 0 Southampton 2

Southampton progressed to the semi-finals of the EFL Cup for the first time since 1987 thanks to a convincing victory over a below-par and under-strength Arsenal. Goals from Jordy Clasie – his first for the club – and Ryan Bertrand secured victory for a Southampton side which inflicted a first defeat on the Gunners since the opening day of the season. Manager Arsene Wenger, who has never won this competition during his 20-year reign in north London, had made 10 changes to the Arsenal team which beat Bournemouth 3-1 in the Premier League on Sunday and paid the price. In Aaron Ramsey, Alex Iwobi and Mohamed Elneny, the Gunners had Premier League regulars in their starting line-up – but without Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil, they lacked guile and bite.

Southampton, who had only won once in their last 23 visits to Arsenal, deserved the victory and will play Liverpool in the two-legged semi-finals, with the first leg at St Mary’s in the week commencing 9 January. During his tenure as Arsenal manager, Wenger has regularly used this tournament to give games to those on the fringes of the first team. That perhaps explains why they have won only one of their last six quarter-finals in the competition. The majority of Wednesday’s starting line-up had defeated Nottingham Forest and Reading this season, but Southampton were a different prospect – a Premier League side with a game plan and nous. Arsenal’s £17m summer signing Lucas Perez started for the first time since the 2-0 win over Reading on 25 October, but was a peripheral figure as he and his team-mates lacked energy and urgency, especially in the first half.

Before the match, Wenger had said he hoped the victory over Bournemouth, which came following three successive league draws, would make his team more relaxed. But while the Gunners marginally improved after the break – the introduction of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain adding pace – they rarely threatened. A long-distance strike from Ramsey and a second-half chance, which fell to Oxlade-Chamberlain, was as good as it got for them. Carl Jenkinson lost possession in his own half and the visitors pounced, with Steven Davis and Sofiane Boufal combining to set up Bertrand for a first-time shot from the edge of the box. Southampton could have scored a third, with Boufal and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg going close, but so comfortable were the visitors that they never seemed in need of another goal.

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Arsenal 3 Bournemouth 1

Arsenal ended a run of three successive draws as Alexis Sanchez scored twice and Theo Walcott once to secure victory over Bournemouth. The pressure was on the Gunners after rivals Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City won on Saturday, and they were gifted the lead when Steve Cook’s poor backpass allowed Sanchez to calmly side-foot past Adam Federici. But Callum Wilson equalised with a penalty after referee Mike Jones judged the striker was fouled by Nacho Monreal and, against a rattled home side, Bournemouth missed two good chances when an unmarked Adam Smith headed over before Brad Smith had an angled shot saved.

Arsenal almost restored their lead when a Sanchez strike came off the crossbar but Walcott did score when he headed in a Monreal cross. Monreal escaped conceding another penalty when a Simon Francis pass struck him on the arm in the area before keeper Petr Cech made a crucial save from Benik Afobe. Sanchez made sure of the win when he slotted in an Olivier Giroud cross, moving the Gunners three points behind top-flight leaders Chelsea and two shy of Liverpool and City. Walcott’s second child was born on Friday, and he marked the occasion with his sixth league goal of the campaign, already one more than he managed in the whole of last season. The winger’s tally is his best in the top flight since 2012-13, when he scored 14, and he helped provide a much-needed win for Arsene Wenger’s side as they extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 19 games. Arsenal had struggled to produce their best and most fluent football in some recent high-profile games, having drawn with Tottenham, Manchester United and Paris St-Germain in their past three outings, and, at times, looked less than secure against the Cherries.

However, even though the Gunners – with 51.8% of the ball – did not dominate possession as much as they are used to, they did show signs of a return to form, especially in the second half. Sanchez’s work-rate and threat in front of goal are key to their prospects. He ended a run of four Arsenal games without a goal as he took his league tally to eight for the season. “We started to click again, even though it was in patches,” said Walcott. The scoreline did not reflect Bournemouth’s efforts and, not only will they be left to rue referee Jones’ decision not to give a penalty for Monreal’s handball, they will also regret some of their missed chances. They took the game to the Gunners and the result might have been different had Smith done better than heading high from 10 yards after Nathan Ake nodded a free-kick back across goal. Smith also appeared to make the wrong decision when he chose to have an angled shot, which was saved by Cech, rather than square the ball for Wilson.

Cech also denied Afobe late on as the visitors matched the Gunners in terms of shots on target, with both registering three apiece. “We are disappointed,” said Cherries boss Eddie Howe, who was without on-loan Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, as he was ineligible to play against his parent club. “We came here to win and leave with our heads held high.” Callum Wilson’s goal was Bournemouth’s first against Arsenal in any competition. The Gunners have conceded a penalty in consecutive home games for the first time in the Premier League. Arsenal have had seven shots on target in their past four games in all competitions, and have scored seven goals. Only Crystal Palace (eight) have scored more headed goals than Arsenal (six) in the Premier League this season. Olivier Giroud has been involved in more goals from the bench than any other Premier League player this season (three goals, one assist).

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Arsenal 2 PSG 2

Arsenal face a struggle to finish top of their Champions League group after they were held to a draw by Paris St-Germain at Emirates Stadium. The Gunners were seeking the win that would put them in pole position in Group A after years of finishing second and six consecutive eliminations in the last 16 in the knockout phase. And it looked like Arsenal were on their way despite going behind early on to Edinson Cavani’s sliding finish from Blaise Matuidi’s cross. Olivier Giroud scored from a penalty just before half-time after Grzegorz Krychowiak fouled Alexis Sanchez. And Arsenal were ahead on the hour when a penalty-box rebound struck Marco Verratti and flew in.

PSG were always dangerous and Lucas’ header, which took a touch off Alex Iwobi, gave them a fully-deserved equaliser 13 minutes from time. Cavani then missed two good chances and although Arsenal and PSG are level on points, the French champions have the advantage on head-to-head away goals with one round of games left after a 1-1 draw between the teams in Paris earlier in the group. Arsenal’s inability to top their Champions League group has cost them dearly as they have failed to get past the last 16 in the past six years – and they now face the same fate again. The odds now seem stacked in favour of Unai Emery’s side, but the side that finishes top could yet end up facing the likes of Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. PSG face Ludogorets at home in their final game, the team Arsenal beat 6-0 at Emirates Stadium, while Wenger’s side travel to Basel.

There is still an opportunity for late twists but it is starting to look like second again after this enthralling draw. They will be entering familiar territory after reaching the last 16 every season in the Champions League’s current format, which has been in existence since 2003-04. Arsenal have suffered in finishing second. Those exits at the last-16 stage in the past six seasons have included two losses to Barcelona, two to Bayern Munich and one each to AC Milan and Monaco. Arsenal may not have been at their best here but they once again showed the resilience that manager Arsene Wenger believes is starting to become their trademark. Arsenal were outplayed until they got a penalty in first-half injury time and while they hardly sparkled in the second half they at least dug deep to earn a point that could yet prove vital.

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Manchester United 1 Arsenal 1

Olivier Giroud’s 89th-minute equaliser earned Arsenal a point and denied Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United a victory they deserved at Old Trafford. Juan Mata looked to have put United on course for three points with a sweeping left-foot finish from Ander Herrera’s cut-back after 68 minutes. Arsenal had not had an effort on goal but secured the draw that leaves them six points ahead of United when substitute Giroud rose at the far post to head home Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross. United had controlled a game that was ordinary for long periods, with Arsenal keeper Petr Cech making important interventions and Mourinho left furious that they were denied a first-half penalty by referee Andre Marriner when Nacho Monreal hauled down Antonio Valencia.

Mourinho cut a dejected figure at the final whistle as this result means he has now faced Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal in the league this season and not recorded a win. This is the latest chapter in what is turning into a season of frustration for both Mourinho and Manchester United as they struggle to pick up the momentum required to challenge their rivals at the top of the Premier League. So much of this display will have left Mourinho feeling satisfied. Manchester United looked in control, restricted Arsenal to a single opportunity and were full value for their lead until Giroud struck with a minute of normal time left. Mourinho has still to taste defeat against Wenger in 12 Premier League games – but this will carry the pain of a loss as Arsenal earned an Old Trafford draw their performance did not merit. Wenger has not won at Old Trafford in the Premier League since September 2006 and has experienced a lot of pain here since – but he will happily grasp this point with both hands after a desperately disappointing Arsenal display.

The Gunners barely raised a gallop and one early Alexis Sanchez header apart, Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea was unemployed until Giroud’s header flew past him. Arsenal were grateful for the reassuring presence of goalkeeper Cech, who was faultless, and also to referee Marriner for waving away those first-half penalty appeals. If Wenger is looking for positives, he will point to the fact that Arsenal stuck at it to open the door for that late equaliser – allowing them to take a point from a place that has brought them much misery in recent years. Wenger will know, however, that Arsenal will need to be bolder and perform better against their rivals than this – but on this occasion he will take this draw and move on.

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Arsenal 1 Tottenham Hotspurs 1

Harry Kane marked his return from injury with the equaliser that kept Tottenham as the only unbeaten team in the Premier League after a north London derby draw at Arsenal. The England striker, sidelined since 18 September with an ankle injury, scored from the penalty spot early in the second half after Kevin Wimmer’s own goal three minutes before the interval gave Arsenal the advantage. The Gunners knew victory would put them top of the table, and Theo Walcott almost put them ahead, crashing a shot against the post, before Wimmer glanced Mesut Ozil’s free-kick past Hugo Lloris. Spurs responded well with Kane’s spot-kick after Laurent Koscielny tangled with Mousa Dembele. They then threatened to take all three points, Christian Eriksen forcing a fine save from Petr Cech before his angled free-kick bounced back off the post in the closing minutes.

Arsenal could have gone top of the Premier League with victory here – moving ahead of Chelsea and Manchester City – and all the omens seemed good for them. The Gunners were in prime form – they remain unbeaten since the opening day of the season – and faced a Spurs side in reduced circumstances, without a win in six games and missing the influence of injured defender Toby Alderweireld and midfielder Dele Alli. With Kane also returning after a seven-week absence, Arsenal would have entered this north London derby high on optimism – yet had to settle for a draw. Arsenal were pushed on to the back foot for the first 20 minutes but then exerted their authority to lead by half-time, only to be knocked off track by the concession of that cheap penalty. The Gunners still showed plenty of grit but in the end they did not possess enough guile to unlock a resolute Spurs defence, who held out in relative comfort for a point.

Arsenal v Spurs is now the highest scoring fixture in Premier League history with 139 goals. Mauricio Pochettino is the first ever Tottenham manager to remain unbeaten in his first five top-flight north London derbies. Harry Kane is now Tottenham’s joint-top scorer in Premier League games against Arsenal with five goals (level with Gareth Bale). Tottenham have stayed unbeaten in their opening 11 top-flight games for the first time since 1960-61 – which is when they last won the title. Laurent Koscielny conceded twice as many fouls in this game (4) as he had in his previous nine Premier League games this season combined (2).

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Sunderland 1 Arsenal 4

Arsenal increased the pressure on Sunderland manager David Moyes with a comfortable victory over a Black Cats side who remain bottom of the table and without a Premier League win this season. Alexis Sanchez put the Gunners ahead when he got in front of defender Lamine Kone to head in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross. The dominant visitors had a strong penalty appeal turned down after Sanchez looked to have been brought down before Jermain Defoe equalised from the spot after keeper Petr Cech had fouled Duncan Watmore. However, Arsenal reasserted their authority and lead with three goals in six minutes and 20 seconds. Olivier Giroud came off the bench to guide in a shot and then headed in a Mesut Ozil corner, while Sanchez’s close range effort was the signal for the home fans to start streaming out of the Stadium of Light.

The win moved Arsenal top of the Premier League – but whether they stay there depends on how Manchester City and Liverpool fare in their later games. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wanted a win in the early Saturday game to put pressure on his side’s rivals and his players duly delivered. The Gunners were missing the in-form Theo Walcott, but Oxlade-Chamberlain, who scored twice in the midweek EFL Cup win over Reading, competently filled the void. He provided the cross for Sanchez, starting up front instead of Giroud, to head in the opener and the England midfielder has now been involved in seven goals in his past eight games in all competitions, with four goals and three assists. Ozil had a chip saved when clean through and the Gunners were punished for failing to turn their dominance into further goals when Defoe equalised. However, Arsenal regrouped and recovered with a late burst of goals and are unbeaten in 14 matches.

Arsenal were still smarting from referee Martin Atkinson not awarding them a penalty for Kone appearing to pull back Sanchez when Defoe gave Sunderland hope. Wenger sent on Giroud, who was playing his first league game since 24 September following a toe injury, and he scored with his first two touches of the game. “I have been lucky today, I had great assists from my team-mates,” said France striker Giroud, who has scored seven goals in his last seven appearances against Sunderland in all competitions. “It is a big time for me coming back from a tough injury and I’m very happy to be back on the pitch.” Arsenal have lost just one of their past 20 top-flight games (12 wins and seven draws) Alexis Sanchez has been directly involved in eight goals in his past eight Premier League appearances (five goals, three assists).