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Arsenal 0 Swansea 1

Lazy, lackadaisical, unimpressive, toothless and uninspired – all describes last night’s performance by Arsenal as they missed the opportunity to move level on points with Manchester City in second place in the Premier League as Swansea snatched a dramatic late win thanks to Bafetimbi Gomis’s header. The Swans’ disciplined six-man midfield frustrated the hosts in a goalless first half. Former Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski made a flurry of saves to deny Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey among others as the Gunners attacked relentlessly after the break.

But with less than five minutes left, substitute Gomis nodded in – as goal-line technology showed Arsenal keeper David Ospina had failed to palm the ball away. That gave Swansea a first league double against Arsenal since the 1981-82 season, after Gomis had also scored the winner when Garry Monk’s side beat the Gunners 2-1 in November. The hosts remain three points behind Manchester City in the Premier League table, albeit with a game in hand. The hosts looked more dangerous after the break as Chile forward Alexis Sanchez skipped clear in the box and shot into the side-netting. However, Arsenal’s first shot on target did not come until the hour mark, though Giroud’s low effort was comfortably held by Fabianski. He made an excellent save moments later to deny Cazorla from 12 yards, before blocking an attempt from Ramsey as the Gunners put Swansea under intense pressure.

A brilliant double save thwarted Sanchez and Theo Walcott and the Poland international’s efforts were then rewarded with a dramatic winner, as Jefferson Montero crossed for Gomis to head in at the back post. At first glance, it seemed Ospina had saved from the France striker but, with the aid of goal-line technology, referee Kevin Friend awarded the goal to seal an improbable victory for Swansea. Arsenal next face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday and host Sunderland on Wednesday.

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Hull City 1 Arsenal 3

Arsenal moved level on points with second-placed Manchester City and heightened Hull’s relegation worries with a superb display at KC Stadium on Monday night. The Gunners also have game in hand as Sanchez, who now has 24 goals this season, banged in 2 goals. Hull are left just one point above the bottom three. The Gunners were sensational in the first half and Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring with a deflected free-kick. Aaron Ramsey netted the second with another deflected strike before setting up Sanchez to beat keeper Steve Harper. Stephen Quinn’s header gave Hull hope, but the defeat sees the Tigers slip to fourth-bottom on goal difference. Hull drop below Leicester and to within a place of the Premier League’s relegation zone ahead of Saturday’s home game against bottom club Burnley, but they will be cheered by the resolve they showed in the second half.

They went into the game buoyed by victories against Crystal Palace and Liverpool, but they could do nothing to prevent a slick Arsenal side dominating the first half. The Gunners enjoyed 83% possession in the first 10 minutes but, for all their ball retention, they looked just as much of a threat on the break. With Santi Cazorla sliding cute passes through and Ramsey causing problems when driving inside from the right, it was no surprise when the visitors took the lead. Sanchez dusted himself down after being fouled on the edge of the box and bent in a free-kick via Michael Dawson’s head. There was also an element of fortune about the second Gunners goal, as Ramsey’s clipped effort looped over Harper after taking a deflection off Robbie Brady. Cazorla’s sublime pass set up the second, but Ramsey’s assist for the third was even better – the Welsh midfielder playing a reverse ball inside the Hull defence and Sanchez had the simple task of rounding Harper and putting the game beyond doubt.

The Gunners had plenty of chances in the second half – either side of Quinn’s header from Ahmed Elmohamady’s deep cross – but they could not take them as they stretched their excellent run of form to just one loss in the last 14. A further boost came in the form of Jack Wilshere, who came off the bench for his first appearance since November.
The England midfielder impressed with a trademark jinking run, and also saw a shot blocked after a late run into the box. The north London side, who have a game in hand on Manchester City, are in control of the race for the runners-up spot behind champions Chelsea and are all but assured of a top-four finish. They also have an FA Cup final against Aston Villa to look forward to on 30 May.

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What Game/Sport Would You Like To Redesign?

What Game/Sport Would You Like to Redesign?

I know the original prompt says just game but I am adding sport to it. Alright, so currently there are only sports that I watch and care for ; football and ice hockey (or soccer & hockey as N.Americans call it). I still have a passing interest in tennis but not enough to sit and watch games being played either recorded or live. I just don’t feel like I have the time or patience to do so.

So football : I’d like to being a change in how substitutes are done. 1) no restrictions on how many substitutes are allowed per game and b) players can have multiple shifts like they have in hockey. I feel that this way top players won’t get too tired or exhausted and can still contribute to the end and critical moments of the game without the fear of being overplayed & exhausted. And also make it mandatory to review contentious goal lines, penalties & penalties in the matches. So many games we have a team being robbed of points or even losing because the referee and/or linesman got the decision wrong or did not see it properly. They are human, bring technology to help them make the right call.

Right, now onto hockey :  fighting – get rid of it. Seriously how is this nonsense still tolerated in a classy sport like hockey? It is ridiculous! Also bad hits that can cause serious damage to a player who gets badly injured and even have terrible concussions which can end his career way too early. Make it safer for the talents to shine. Also increase the size of the ice rink and add a player or two. I could be more fun. I would also make the goal size bigger but I might be hunted down by Mounties and thrown in a jail to rot for the rest of my life.

So that’s my two cents worth of opinions on the two sports that I love.

Prompt from The Learning Network from The New York Times

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Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0

Chelsea ended Arsenal’s eight-match winning run as the two London rivals fought out an at times dull 0-0 draw at the Emirates last night. Chelsea took another step towards clinching the Premier League title after the goalless draw ensured they remain 10 points clear at the top of the league. Jose Mourhino’s side will clinch the title if they follow victory at revitalised Leicester City on Wednesday with three points against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge next Sunday. Arsenal’s fans vented their frustration with chants of “boring boring Chelsea” at the final whistle after the Gunners failed to make the most of their second-half chances.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will have been as frustrated as his team’s fans, having now gone 13 games without a win against his old adversary Mourinho. The Gunners had plenty of possession but could not find the inspiration to alter that grim statistic. Chelsea mounted a defensive rearguard action after the break with Per Mertesacker and substitute Danny Welbeck missing from the rare opportunities that fell Arsenal’s way. Chelsea would feel that they should have won one of the 3 penalty appeals but referee Oliver did not penalise Hector Bellerin when Oscar fell under his challenge and the same player was involved again when he was cleaned out by Arsenal keeper David Ospina as they challenged for Fabregas’s pass.The third claim came when Fabregas fell theatrically to the floor after coming into contact with Santi Cazorla. The only outcome, much to the delight of Arsenal’s fans, was their former idol being shown a yellow card for diving.

Amid this chaos, chances were at a premium but Ospina came to Arsenal’s rescue with a fine low save from Ramires after he ran on to Willian’s pass. Arsenal had a rare opening when Courtois could only half-clear a free-kick but the loose ball did not fall to the ideal person, giant defender Mertesacker screwing a finish well wide. Welbeck then scuffed a clear chance in front of goal in stoppage time as Arsenal did most of the second half pressing – and Chelsea held out to leave their supporters celebrating a vital point.

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Arsenal 2 Reading 1

Holders Arsenal reached a record 19th FA Cup final after two goals from Alexis Sanchez sealed victory over Reading in extra-time. Sanchez gave the Premier League side a 39th-minute lead from close range before Garath McCleary volleyed home an equaliser shortly after the break. Reading needed the post and keeper Adam Federici to keep the scores level as the game required an extra 30 minutes to decide the outcome. The Australian keeper was at fault as Sanchez’s effort spilled through his grasp and rolled in and although Reading pushed for an equaliser Arsenal held on.

The Gunners will now face the winners of Sunday’s other semi-final between Aston Villa and Liverpool as they look to lift a record 12th FA Cup. Sanchez has 22 goals this season since his summer arrival from Barcelona and, with 36 places separating these two sides, he was the difference at a sunny Wembley. The first half went to form with Arsenal dominating their Championship opposition and enjoying 74% possession. Per Mertesacker had seen his early header from Mesut Ozil’s corner well saved by Federici, low to his left, and at the other end Jordan Obita’s fierce half-volley from 25 yards was straight at Wojciech Szczesny. Reading forward Jamie Mackie was unlucky to have been ruled offside when clean through before Arsenal scored the opener. Ozil unlocked the Royals’ defence with a wonderful pass to Sanchez, who, after controlling and turning inside, prodded past Federici from close range. Reading levelled nine minutes after the break with McCleary volleying home Pavel Pogrebnyak’s cross from six yards. Although Szczesny got to the ball, goal-line technology confirmed it had crossed the line

Federici, who would later leave the pitch in tears, produced a wonderful one-handed save to claw out Gabriel’s header as Arsenal looked to get themselves back in front against a Reading side who were growing in confidence. Szczesny nearly made a mess of Nathaniel Chalobah’s shot from distance, palming it away to safety, while Aaron Ramsey missed a glorious chance to put the Gunners ahead by striking the post from within the six-yard box with only a man on the line to beat. Ramsey’s low shot from 25 yards was saved by Federici, who was lucky to see it rebound off him and over the bar. However, the Australian was at fault just before the end of the first period of extra time. Sanchez’s shot took a slight deflection and the keeper fumbled the ball through his legs as it crossed the line.
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud hit the post with eight minutes remaining and although Reading pumped several balls into the Gunners’ box, they never looked like finding an equaliser as their first FA Cup semi-final since 1927 ended in heartbreak.

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Burnely 0 Arsenal 1

Arsenal record their eighth straight Premier League win as Aaron Ramsey’s early goal, his 9th of the season, was enough for Arsenal to close the gap on leaders Chelsea to four points with a hard-earned victory at Turf Moor. The Gunners have played two games more than Jose Mourinho’s men, who play QPR on Sunday, so talk that they are now in a two-horse title race remains premature. That impressive form has also put them four points clear in second place and means they now look almost certain of securing Champions League football for an 18th consecutive season under Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal’s latest win was not down to the kind of incisive attacking and explosive finishing that demolished Liverpool last weekend. Instead it was earned by exactly the kind of considered and controlled defensive performance needed to keep an energetic Burnley side at arms length. Ramsey’s 12th-minute goal came after Jason Shackell gave the ball away to Francis Coquelin on the halfway line and, after Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil both had shots saved, the Welshman blasted home. The Clarets’ immediate response was typically full-blooded as they forced David Ospina into two fine saves, the first when Ashley Barnes broke into the box and the second from Kieran Trippier’s free-kick.

But Arsenal kept their shape at the back and concentrated on defending their lead, although Santi Cazorla almost made it 2-0 with a free-kick that curled a whisker wide. The Clarets continued to press after the break but George Boyd missed their best chance when he fluffed his shot in space at the far post. Arsenal’s upward charge continues; they head for Wembley next weekend for their FA Cup semi-final against Reading on the back of 16 wins in their last 18 games in all competitions, and their status as the form team in the country is ominously intact.

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Arsenal 4 Liverpool 1

Arsenal tightened their grip on a place in the Premier League’s top four while inflicting damage on Liverpool’s Champions League aspirations with a convincing victory at Emirates. Arsenal scored 4 goals, 4 beautiful goals, I might add to record their 10th win from 11 league matches. The Gunners set the platform for a vital three points with a devastating burst of three goals in the last eight minutes of the first half from Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Raheem Sterling – starting up front for Liverpool after the midweek interview with the BBC that cast further doubt on his long-term Anfield future – battled hard and won a late penalty from which Jordan Henderson pulled a goal back.

In reality, however, this was little other than an afternoon of unrelenting misery for an abject Liverpool, who had Emre Can sent off for two bookable offences before Olivier Giroud delivered the final blow with a spectacular fourth for Arsenal in the closing seconds. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will feel a place in next season’s Champions League is now within his grasp but Liverpool’s hopes are fading as they followed up the 2-1 home defeat by Manchester United by being convincingly outplayed. The win puts Arsenal nine points ahead of Liverpool with seven games left, while manager Brendan Rodgers’ side also trail Manchester United by five points before Saturday’s meeting with Aston Villa at Old Trafford. Liverpool were without captain Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel, who were serving three-match suspensions for stamping in last month’s match against Manchester United.

It was Liverpool who should have gone ahead after 18 minutes when Philippe Coutinho sent Lazar Markovic through on goal but he mysteriously passed on responsibility to Sterling, matters made worse by the failure to find his intended target. There was little indication of the mayhem to come as the game moved towards the interval – but Arsenal delivered three heavy hits to Liverpool in the final eight minutes of the half. Bellerin’s finish for the first, cutting in from the the right before a precise left-foot finish into the bottom corner, was exemplary but the defending of Liverpool’s Alberto Moreno was nothing short of shambolic as he virtually ushered his opponent into a dangerous position. Arsenal’s second came three minutes later as Ozil curled a delightful 25-yard free-kick beyond Mignolet and the third arrived on the stroke of half-time when Sanchez scored with a thunderous shot from the edge of the area – although it passed suspiciously close to Liverpool’s keeper before going in.

Liverpool were offered some hope with 14 minutes left when they were awarded a penalty for Bellerin’s foul on Sterling. Henderson’s penalty was not exactly convincing but it did the job as it sneaked past Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina. Any Liverpool hopes of a comeback were soon snuffed out when Can, who had picked up a foolish yellow card for dissent, made a wild challenge on Arsenal substitute Danny Welbeck and was sent off. It was fully deserved but there was an element of justification to Liverpool’s protests after Bellerin escaped a second yellow card after conceding a penalty. Giroud’s final goal was simply the gloss on a fine Arsenal display – and the final insult for Liverpool.

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Newcastle United 1 Arsenal 2

Last evening Arsenal held on for sixth consecutive league win & remain one point behind Man City in the league. The Gunners resisted Newcastle’s second-half fightback as they continued their pursuit of second-placed Manchester City. After City beat West Brom, Olivier Giroud scored twice in four minutes as Arsenal established first-half control. He poked in his first from Santi Cazorla’s free-kick before heading in a corner for his 17th of the season. Moussa Sissoko’s crisp finish sparked a revival but David Ospina’s save from Remy Cabella’s shot was crucial. Any Newcastle hopes that the Gunners would suffer the after-effects of Tuesday’s Champions League exit were extinguished in a first half in which the visitors could easily have been four goals ahead.

Despite being without Mesut Ozil, they did not miss the German playmaker as Giroud again linked up well with Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck to score his ninth goal in as many games. If only Newcastle could call on the same firepower. Newcastle manager John Carver witnessed an improved second-half display from his side, but without injured top scorer Papiss Cisse and suspended defender Fabricio Coloccini, they slipped to a fourth defeat in the last five games. Giroud was a tad fortunate for his first goal as Welbeck flicked on Cazorla’s free-kick and the Frenchman seemed to score via his knee. The second showed his strength as he held off Mike Williamson to nod in Cazorla’s corner. Aaron Ramsey, in the side to replace Ozil, inadvertently denied Giroud a first-half hat-trick when he diverted a low cross out of his team-mate’s path.

Cabella was heavily involved as he first set up Sissoko’s goal with a clever cut-back. He then teed up Yoan Gouffran, who could only poke straight at Ospina, with Sissoko almost troubling the Colombian from close-range following a corner. As Arsenal tired, Jonas Gutierrez, who returned to action earlier this month after overcoming testicular cancer, came on to further boost his team-mates. But Ospina denied Newcastle a point when he saved well with his legs to stop Cabella’s deflected shot. With 2 games in hand Chelsea sit on top of the league with 64 points, with Man City on 61 and the Gunners on 3rd with 60 points.

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Monaco 0 Arsenal 2

Arsenal failed to make the Champions League last eight for the fifth straight season despite beating Monaco in the second leg of their last-16 tie. Needing to score at least three unanswered away goals after a 3-1 defeat at home, they went ahead through Olivier Giroud’s close-range finish. A lively Danny Welbeck went close to doubling the lead before half-time. But despite Aaron Ramsey coming off the bench to score late on, with Giroud going close again, Monaco held on. It was agonizingly close but Monaco go ahead on the away goal rule.

All over the pitch Arsene Wenger’s side were vastly improved from the defeat at Emirates Stadium last month and they ensured that Monaco conceded their first Champions League goals at the Stade Louis II this season. Arguably, though, the Gunners lost this tie in the first leg through their defensive fragility, where they conceded a crucial third goal in the 90th minute. And although they continued their fine form with an eighth win from nine games, that blip in the first leg was enough to ensure Monaco reached the quarter-finals for the first time since 2004. They join holders Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris St-Germain, Porto and Atletico Madrid in Friday’s draw. After Giroud had headed just wide and Laurent Koscielny turned a free-kick onto the Monaco crossbar but was wrongly ruled offside, the visitors established control and could have been at least two goals ahead before the break.

Giroud gave Wenger’s side the lead when he latched onto Welbeck’s through ball and managed to steer his shot in at the near post after Danijel Subasic had blocked his first effort. Two minutes later Welbeck was unlucky not to join him on the scoresheet when his rasping drive was blocked by the prostrate Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour. With Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez providing pace and width up front, Arsenal continued to cause problems for the Ligue 1 side as Mesut Ozil went close with a free-kick and flashed another effort wide. But the hosts, who had one more day’s rest than their opponents, regained their composure around the 60-minute mark and caused some nervy moments in the Arsenal defence before Wenger brought on Ramsey and Theo Walcott in search of a second goal. It paid dividends as the substitutes combined for Arsenal’s second with 11 minutes left, Walcott striking the post from a left-wing cross before Ramsey got on the end of Layvin Kurzawa’s poor clearance. Giroud almost tucked in at the back post from a free-kick but perhaps he was guilty in putting off the better-placed Sanchez.

Champions League dreams shattered, it’s back to the FA Cup and perhaps finishing 2nd in the league at home.

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Arsenal 3 West Ham United 0

Arsenal earned their seventh win in last eight games as they stay in 3rd and just a point behind 2nd place Manchester United after last night’s win at home against West Ham United. The Gunners warmed up for their crucial Champions League second-leg tie at Monaco on Tuesday with a 10th successive win over West Ham. Arsenal dominated the first half before Olivier Giroud smashed in an angled drive just before half-time. Kevin Nolan and Matt Jarvis came close to scoring for the Hammers. But late strikes from Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini earned a win which puts Arsenal a point behind second-placed Manchester City.

City’s 1-0 defeat by Burnley came after a convincing performance from Arsene Wenger’s side, who will be aiming to overturn a 3-1 deficit in France next week. Until the strikes from Ramsey and Flamini, West Ham looked like they might build up a period of sustained pressure, but the introduction of Santi Cazorla helped earn Arsenal a seventh win in their last eight games. The opportunities arrived as early as the fifth minute when the Gunners had a strong penalty appeal waved away by referee Chris Foy after James Collins bundled over Arsenal forward Theo Walcott. Walcott, in for injured winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, showed some rustiness when presented with further opportunities in what was only his third Premier League start of the season.

The home crowd began to grow frustrated but they went into the break lifted by Giroud’s goal as the French striker finished another neat interchange by crashing his shot in off the far post. It was his sixth goal in seven games. Giroud played his part in the second goal as he set up Ramsey following a throw-in, with Flamini adding the gloss from close-range with his first touch.

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Manchester United 1 Arsenal 2

Considered surplus at Manchester by his coach and allowed to be sold to rivals Arsenal, Danny Welbeck returned to Manchester United as Arsenal’s match-winner as the FA Cup holders sealed a semi-final place at Wembley. That’s irony for you! England striker Welbeck joined Arsenal from United in a £16m deal on deadline day in September – and came back to score the goal that gave the Gunners their first win at Old Trafford since 2006. It ensures Louis van Gaal, the manager who sanctioned his sale, will almost certainly end his first season empty-handed.

Nacho Monreal gave Arsenal a first-half lead but Wayne Rooney equalised with a flying header from Angel Di Maria’s cross – the high point of the Argentine’s night as he was later dismissed for two yellow cards after Welbeck had restored Arsenal’s advantage. And on a great night for manager Arsene Wenger & the Gunners after United had won 11 of the last 15 meetings between the sides in all competitions, Arsenal are now huge favourites to reach another FA Cup final after drawing either Reading or Bradford City in the semi-final. The hero of the night, however, was Welbeck as he punished United, the club where he scored 29 goals in 142 appearances before switching to Arsenal after Van Gaal brought in Radamel Falcao. There was no reprieve here, though, and now a place in the Premier League’s top four and a return to the Champions League is their sole aim for the rest of the campaign.

For Arsenal, this was a demonstration of the sort of resilience that saw them win at champions Manchester City this season and now ends that recent curse at Old Trafford. Arsenal’s crisp passing had already caused United problems before they took the lead in the 25th minute. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the creator with a weaving run along the edge of the area before finding Monreal, who beat David De Gea at the near post with composure. The lead lasted only four minutes, United replying with quality of their own as Di Maria’s perfect delivery dropped between Arsenal’s defenders to be met by the flying figure of Rooney, who directed a powerful header beyond Wojciech Szczesny. Arsenal went back in front just after the hour. Antonio Valencia’s backpass sold De Gea short and Welbeck reacted quickly to nudge the loose ball around the keeper and roll it into the unguarded net. Welbeck received warm applause from large sections of United’s support when he was replaced by Olivier Giroud. There were some jeers mixed in but he clearly remains a popular figure at Old Trafford.

Seconds after that switch De Gea produced a miraculous piece of goalkeeping to keep United in contention, somehow clawing out Santi Cazorla’s shot from Alexis Sanchez’s cross. United’s play, as well as the noise from their supporters, carried an air of desperation and their cause was not helped by a moment of madness from Di Maria that saw him sent off with 13 minutes left. After being booked for diving, the frustrated Argentine then tugged at referee Oliver’s shirt as he walked away, with inevitable consequences. In the dying minutes Alexis Sanchez too had a great chance at goal but was thwarted by a great save from De Gea. Di Maria’s diving was shameful as was some of the other players too – no place for it in football and he was rightfully sent off; Fellani was a bully and could have easily have been sent off himself.

Revenge is sweet, it was well deserved for Arsenal for whom every player stepped up. Ozil, Carzola, Bellerin (who was substituted with Chambers who was also good), Chamberlain, Sanchez, Monreal, Coquelin, Kosceilny & even Per who had a solid game at the back. I would wanted to have seen Walcott given a run at them but it was not to be. Great atmosphere, great game and a memorable win for the Gunners.

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Arsenal 2 Queens Park Rangers 1

Arsenal produced an impressive second-half display to beat QPR in a fourth consecutive Premier League win and consolidate their top-four place. Olivier Giroud opened the scoring, poking home when on the ground after Kieran Gibbs’s shot was blocked. Alexis Sanchez beat Robert Green at his near post to double Arsenal’s lead. QPR faded after a strong first-half performance, although they were given late hope by Charlie Austin’s powerful strike with eight minutes left. Arsenal remain on course for automatic Champions League qualification, sitting one point clear of fourth-placed Manchester United, and three points ahead of fifth-placed Liverpool.

Sanchez scored his first goal since January as he ended a mini-drought with a bit of skill while Giroud scores fifth goal in five games. While Arsenal took time to settle, they provided a reminder of their quality when Green kept out Santi Cazorla after a flowing move that saw the Spaniard combine neatly with Giroud. The Gunners were much the better team after half-time though, and threatened almost immediately, with Mesut Ozil insisting only a foul by Henry had prevented him from converting a Tomas Rosicky cut-back. Soon after Giroud put Arsenal ahead, they created further chances in quick succession and, having just denied Sanchez, Green was beaten by the Chile forward at his near post from an acute angle.

The Gunners were much the better team after half-time though, and threatened almost immediately, with Mesut Ozil insisting only a foul by Henry had prevented him from converting a Tomas Rosicky cut-back. Soon after Giroud put Arsenal ahead, they created further chances in quick succession and, having just denied Sanchez, Green was beaten by the Chile forward at his near post from an acute angle. Austin’s late strike gave QPR hope of a dramatic late equaliser, but the home side failed to build further momentum and Arsenal’s control of possession ensured no further alarms. After 28 games played and 54 points Arsenal stays in 3rd place a point above Manchester United and 3 above Liverpool who are breathing down the neck of the top 4.

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Arsenal 2 Everton 0

Arsenal bounced back from the midweek disastrous Champions League defeat by winning their 4th league match in a row. It wasn’t easy by any means and it wasn’t a brilliant confident performance but atleast the defense was more disciplined and structured. Olivier Giroud rewarded manager Arsene Wenger’s support with a goal as Arsenal beat Everton 2-0 to climb back to third place in the Premier League. Wenger kept the striker in his starting line-up even though he missed several chances during Wednesday’s 3-1 Champions League defeat by Monaco. Giroud volleyed in Mesut Ozil’s corner six minutes before half-time.

Everton’s Romelu Lukaku was denied by keeper David Ospina before Tomas Rosicky’s late goal sealed the win. The visitors were the better side for most of the second half but struggled to create clear chances, aside from Lukaku’s near-post shot from Ross Barkley’s cross, which Ospina tipped over brilliantly. Giroud’s selection proved pivotal to that win, as did Wenger’s decision to give centre-back Gabriel Paulista a first Premier League start in place of the out-of-form Per Mertesacker. But Giroud has had 12 efforts at goal in Arsenal’s last two matches – six against Monaco and six against Everton. The goal that he scored against Everton was his only effort on target. Gabriel was shaky at first, misjudging a long clearance and allowing Lukaku to get in behind him, with Ospina racing from his line to pat the ball clear.

But the Brazilian defender won applause from the home fans for a perfectly timed challenge as Everton’s Belgium striker threatened to tear through and score eight minutes before half-time. That lifted an Arsenal side who had been ponderous for the opening 35 minutes, and they were soon ahead. Giroud, who had earlier planted a header wide from eight yards out, found a few inches of space inside a crowded penalty area to turn a lovely low volley into the corner of the net from Ozil’s corner. Arsenal had to survive a significant spell of Everton pressure after half-time, but aside from Lukaku’s effort, the only chance came when substitute Aaron Lennon steered Seamus Coleman’s low cross straight at Ospina. Wenger’s side did finish strongly, and only a magnificent saving tackle by Phil Jagielka stopped Ozil scoring from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s through-pass. Rosicky eased the jitters of the home fans with a shot that was deflected past keeper Tim Howard by the unlucky Jagielka.

After 27 games Arsenal have 51 points and sit in 3rd place, one point more than Manchester United & 4 points below Manchester City.

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Arsenal 1 Monaco 3

It was one of the worst performances in Europe that I have ever seen the Gunners play out and it is a shame for anyone and everyone associated with this great club. Arsenal’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2010 suffered a stunning blow as they slumped to a shock 3-1 home defeat by Monaco. The Gunners looked to have been handed a favourable draw but a display that plumbed the depths of incompetence and naivety leaves them facing a last-16 exit once more. Monaco, resilient at the back and capable of punishing Arsenal’s shoddy defence, took the lead in the first half through Geoffrey Kondogbia’s deflected shot.

To add insult to injury, former Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov added the second just after the break. There was even time for Arsenal to cast away the lifeline substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s stoppage-time goal had given them as they were caught hopelessly on the counter once more as Yannick Ferreira Carrasco added a third goal. This stage has become Arsenal’s perennial stumbling block but Wenger would have had high hopes of clearing the hurdle against his former club, even though they had lost only once in their last 17 games.But Arsenal were devoid of ideas and when they did create chances they fell to the hapless, and on this night hopeless, Olivier Giroud, who missed every one that came his way. Welbeck conceded possession and as Joao Moutinho moved forward he found the impressive Kondogbia, whose 25-yard shot took a decisive deflection off Per Mertesacker to leave keeper David Ospina helpless.

Giroud had been presented with Arsenal’s best opportunities but time and again the striker failed to hit the target. In the first half he scooped Hector Bellerin’s cross over then he turned Alexis Sanchez’s cross wide from six yards. From their own attack, Mertesacker in particular deserted his defensive post leaving Anthony Martial free to set up the unmarked Berbatov, who steadied himself before thumping a finish high past Ospina. Giroud’s night got worse when he somehow tapped a simple finish over the top after keeper Danijel Subasic fumbled Sanchez’s shot – and with the fury of Arsenal’s fans ringing in his ears, it was a merciful release when he was replaced by Theo Walcott on the hour. As Emirates Stadium emptied, Oxlade-Chamberlain, on for Francis Coquelin, curled in a goal from 20 yards that at least offered Arsenal some sort of hope for the second leg.

It was typical of how poor they were, however, that they somehow found themselves caught upfield once more to allow the speedy Ferreira-Carrasco to race clear and beat Ospina for what could be the decisive blow. So now, barring a miraculous comeback, Arsenal are all but out of the Champions League. They need to win by a 3 goal margin, hopefully to bang in 3 and keep a clean sheet, which seems not possible going by this performance. They were at home and they couldn’t get up for it in the Champions League with a place in the quarter-finals at stake and they were a playing against a team, which on paper and only on paper, were a much weaker side. Arsenal’s attack was toothless and their defense was in shambles. And that manager has no clue as to how to fix it!

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Arsenal 2 Middlesbrough 0

FA Cup holders Arsenal produced an assured display to reach the quarter-finals and end Middlesbrough’s impressive run in the competition. Striker Olivier Giroud scored twice within two first-half minutes to wrap up the win for the Gunners, who in reality should have had another 2 or 3 more goals for the domination they showed. Gabriel Paulista makes Arsenal debut in a match that saw Giroud score his 9th & 10 goals this injury layoff marred season. Santi Cazorla split the away side’s defence with a through ball for Kieran Gibbs, who squared for Olivier Giroud to steer home the opener. Giroud added a second with a delightful volley at Boro’s near post after slack defending from a corner. Spanish striker Kike headed against the post late on but Boro created little.

Arsenal, who ended a nine-year trophy drought by winning the FA Cup last season, move into the draw for the last eight as one of five Premier League teams, with League One Preston hosting Manchester United on Monday evening. New Gunners signing Gabriel Paulista made his debut at centre-back but had little to do as the home side dominated. Albert Adomah’s shot, Middlesbrough’s first on target, was comfortably saved by Wojciech Szczesny in the 39th minute. Cazorla and Gibbs combined for the opener, setting up Giroud whose first-time strike with his left foot went under Meijas. Just two minutes later Giroud doubled his tally with a beautifully controlled volley at the near post after defender George Friend allowed the Frenchman to escape at Alexis Sanchez’s corner.

Middlesbrough managed to shore up their defence in the second half but they remained toothless in attack. Kike’s injury-time header was the only time they threatened to score. And they would have been more heavily beaten had it not been for goalie Mejias, who produced some fine saves.

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Arsenal 2 Leicester City 1

Arsenal moved into the Premier League top four with a win that left bottom club Leicester City five points adrift of safety. Mesut Ozil whipped in a corner for Laurent Koscielny to tap in from close range and later saw a shot saved, allowing Theo Walcott to volley home. But the Foxes rallied as Andrej Kramaric scored a first goal in English football with a low second-half shot. He was also denied late on by keeper David Ospina as the Gunners held on.

Leicester boss Pearson deployed a rarely used back five to frustrate Arsenal and while his side threatened until the final whistle, the Gunners’ quality in the final third – not least from Ozil, who completed 88% of his passes – was telling. The German – making his 50th start – created an early opening for Walcott, saw a poked shot tipped wide and from the resulting corner, delivered for Koscielny to score his third goal of the season. The French defender had ample space to side-foot in, ensuring Pearson’s side remain on just four clean sheets this season – a league low. Alexis Sanchez – back after a hamstring injury – had shots blocked but when Ozil found the target from range, Mark Schwarzer parried and Walcott swept home a crisp first-time volley from 12 yards across the keeper. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger lost substitute Aaron Ramsey to injury after just nine minutes of his introduction as they stuttered through the second period and Kramaric will rue his chance to deliver the point his side’s endeavour arguably deserved.

He squeezed a shot through bodies and low into the net to give Leicester some hope and when sent clear late on by the impressive Riyad Mahrez – who went close four times on the night – could only chip into the hands of Ospina. The win sees Arsenal leapfrog Manchester United into 4th place while Tottenham slips to 6th after their loss to Liverpool.

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Arsenal 1 Tottenham Hotspurs 2

Arsenal put waste to all the good things they did in recent weeks to seemingly turn around their bad start to the season as they sat back and let Tottenham have a go at them. Harry Kane continued his superb recent form with two goals as Tottenham came from behind to beat Arsenal in an entertaining north London derby. Kane pounced to finish at the back post following Mousa Dembele’s flick from a corner early in the second half. He then rose to head home in the 86th minute to take Spurs a point above the Gunners in the Premier League table. Mesut Ozil had given Arsenal the lead with a close-range finish but they sat back after and paid the price.

Spurs, who ended Saturday fifth in the table, have now won their last seven home matches and taken 22 points from a possible 27. They also have a very real chance of ending a run of 18 seasons in which they have finished below Arsenal in the Premier League table. Twice in the second half Kane breached an Arsenal backline that had previously looked as stubborn and solid as it had during last month’s impressive 2-0 win at champions Manchester City. During a first half in which Spurs were the more positive side, but ended it behind when Olivier Giroud’s fluffed finish from Danny Welbeck’s cross fell to Ozil to finish from inside the box. At the break, Arsenal were eyeing another efficient counter-attacking victory in the mould of their Etihad triumph – a win that would have been their 13th in 16 games.

Wenger’s side had chances in the second half – most notably a long-range Welbeck shot that was well saved by Hugo Lloris – but in general they were not at their best as they became the latest side to suffer at the hands of Spurs and their in-form striker. Arsenal drop down to 6th place with 42 points after 24 games. Next up is Leicester.

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Arsenal 5 Aston Villa 0

Arsenal moved above Tottenham to fifth in the Premier League courtesy of an emphatic victory over struggling Aston Villa. The Gunners dominated and took the lead when Olivier Giroud collected Mesut Ozil’s neat flick and finished well. Santi Cazorla’s shot struck the post before well-taken finishes from Ozil and Theo Walcott made it 3-0. Giroud hit the bar with a header before Cazorla fired home a penalty and Hector Bellerin made it 5-0 from 30 yards out. It is the first time Arsenal have hit five goals in a match this season and completes a hat-trick of successive league victories for Arsene Wenger’s side.

The Gunners have now claimed 19 points out of a possible 24, have not conceded in their last three league games and, with significant players returning from injury, are in a strong position to make a push for a 19th successive top-four finish. Even without injured leading scorer Alexis Sanchez, the home side had too much quality for Villa. Ozil, starting his first league game since October following a knee injury, was lively, producing a deft flick to set up Giroud for the first goal eight minutes into the first half. He then collected a pass from the French striker and finished low into the corner of the net in the early stages of the second half. Walcott also continued his rehabilitation in impressive fashion, adding to his goal in the FA Cup win at Brighton last week with a curling finish from inside the box.

And Cazorla capped off another fine display by firing a penalty through the grasp of Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who had fouled substitute Chuba Akpom. Bellerin has been quietly establishing himself as an effective full-back in recent weeks and his low, driven goal from more than 30 yards out in stoppage time was arguably the pick of the bunch. With this win Arsenal move back to 5th place with 42 points after 23 games played. Up next is bitter North London rivals Tottenham Hotspurs.