Hull City 0 Arsenal 4

Arsenal ended a run of five games without a win by beating Hull in an FA Cup fifth-round replay to secure a quarter-final against Watford. The Gunners were gifted the lead when Hull’s David Meyler set up Olivier Giroud to slot home. Aaron Ramsey almost scored an own goal to let Hull back in but Giroud volleyed in to extend Arsenal’s lead. Theo Walcott wrapped up the victory for the holders when he side-footed in and then rifled in a late shot. Giroud celebrated the birth of his baby boy on Monday and manager Arsene Wenger hoped it would inspire him to break his 11-game scoring drought. The France striker was restored to the starting line-up, along with fellow forward Walcott, but the pair initially struggled against Hull, who had not conceded in six previous home games.

The Tigers were employing a three centre-back formation and rarely looked like being breached until Meyler’s mistake allowed Giroud to slot in his first goal since 13 January. Walcott’s form has also been a concern and, although he looked short of confidence, he set up Giroud’s second before looking like his former self when his late double gave him his first goals in five games. Despite a return to winning ways for manager Arsene Wenger’s side, some Gunners fans held up a banner reading ‘Arsene, thanks for the memories but it’s time to say goodbye’. The priority for both of these teams are their league campaigns as Arsenal remain in the hunt for the Premier League title, while Hull are challenging for promotion from the Championship. The home side made seven changes and the Gunners six, with the visitors forced into more of a reshuffle when centre-back Per Mertesacker went off injured early on after a clash of heads with Nick Powell.

Arsenal were playing their sixth game in 18 days and, with centre-back Laurent Koscielny already sidelined, the exit of fellow defender Gabriel in the second half has provided the Gunners with problems at the heart of their defence. Gabriel’s replacement in midfielder Aaron Ramsey lasted only 16 minutes before an apparent shoulder injury ended his participation and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger now faces a selection dilemma against Watford on Sunday. His side may be attempting to win a third successive FA Cup but, after their last-eight tie, they will attempt an unlikely Champions League comeback from 2-0 down at Barcelona before returning to league action.

Tottenham Hotspurs 2 Arsenal 2

Alexis Sanchez’s equaliser earned 10-man Arsenal a vital point as Spurs missed the opportunity to go top of the Premier League in the north London derby at White Hart Lane. Aaron Ramsey’s instinctive flick gave Arsenal the lead just before the interval – but the game looked to have turned in the space of seven minutes before the hour. Arsenal’s Francis Coquelin was sent off after 55 minutes after receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Harry Kane, leaving the door open for Spurs to respond with two quick goals. Toby Alderweireld scored at the far post before Kane curled in a magnificent angled right-foot finish after 62 minutes to put Spurs in command.

But Arsenal refused to back down and equalised 14 minutes from time when Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris let Sanchez’s shot squirm through his grasp. In contrast Arsenal’s David Ospina, in for the injured Petr Cech, was heroic with outstanding saves from Erik Lamela, Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen. Arsene Wenger’s current plight could be measured in the amount of cameras that greeted him as he arrived in the technical area before kick-off – the natural indicator of either a new manager or a man under pressure. Wenger fell into the latter category after those damaging league defeats to Manchester United and Swansea City, but here he will have left White Hart Lane a satisfied man. Defeat would have turned up the pressure another notch, pushing that first title since 2003/04’s ‘Invincibles’ season even further out of reach. Instead, he will have been happier than his Spurs counterpart Mauricio Pochettino and will feel Arsenal have restored some equilibrium to a season that felt on the brink of implosion.

The Gunners are still in a reasonable position to challenge for the title – and Wenger would have taken that before kick-off. The tide was flowing fast against them after Coquelin conceded a stupid yellow card. It would have been easy to feel it was not their day but the Gunners hung in and their persistence was rewarded. Sitting in at 3rd spot with 52 points, it’s still mathematically possible for the Gunners to win but it’s highly unlikely that they will.

Arsenal 1 Swansea 2

Arsenal’s hopes of landing a first league title in 12 years suffered a heavy blow as Swansea came from behind to win at Emirates Stadium. Joel Campbell slid to hook the Gunners into an early lead and they looked set to make up ground on leaders Leicester. Swansea – missing boss Francesco Guidolin through illness – levelled when Wayne Routledge side-footed home. Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez struck the bar before Ashley Williams pounced to earn a crucial Swansea win. The Welsh club now have a six-point cushion to the relegation zone but Arsenal’s six-point deficit to Leicester City at the top of the table looks sure to yield ugly headlines.

Arsene Wenger’s side have lost three successive games for the first time since 2010, severely damaging their title hopes in a season many regard as their best opportunity in recent times to be crowned champions. After defeat at Old Trafford on Sunday, pundits lined up to criticise Arsenal’s failings. Their shortcomings were again laid bare against the Swans as they missed chances and their soft centre again cost them dear. Swansea arrived in north London sporting six changes, with a teenage debutant in Stephen Kingsley at left-back and minus their manager, who is in hospital with a chest infection. The early stages, in which the impressive Campbell – in for Theo Walcott – turned home Sanchez’s pass, saw the visitors struggle but then cracks emerged again in Wenger’s side. Weak play by Mesut Ozil led to Jack Cork being allowed to create the equaliser and Petr Cech must be questioned for the missed punch that allowed Williams to turn in from a yard.

There were inevitable boos and the same old questions will be trotted out. Where is the character? Where is the steel? Arsenal are in danger of failing and suddenly, even a top-four place does not look guaranteed. Sitting third – behind Tottenham – and six points adrift of Leicester, Arsenal may not look out of the title race by any stretch. But a focus on their run-in reveals difficult away trips to Spurs, Everton, West Ham, Sunderland and Manchester City. Such challenges currently look beyond them and with just three wins in 11 matches, the excellent December form that solidified their challenge has disappeared. Wenger admitted he was “worried” about results after this latest loss. Arsenal fans will likely echo his thoughts. News that Cech picked up an injury that rules him out of Saturday’s trip to White Hart Lane will only add to their concerns.

Manchester United 3 Arsenal 2

Teenager Marcus Rashford scored twice and set up the third as Manchester United derailed Arsenal’s Premier League title challenge at Old Trafford. Rashford, who scored twice on his debut against FC Midtjylland on Thursday, steered in a loose ball for the opener then headed in three minutes later. Danny Welbeck nodded Arsenal back into the game, but Rashford picked out Ander Herrera whose shot was deflected in. Mesut Ozil’s volley gave third-placed Arsenal hope, but United held on. Arsenal – who have not won the title since 2004 – remain in third place, five points adrift of leaders Leicester having now played the same number of matches.

The Red Devils moved back into fifth position with their first win in three league games. With leaders Leicester snatching a late win on Saturday, and second-placed Tottenham fighting back against Swansea, Arsene Wenger’s side lost valuable ground on their title rivals. And it ended a miserable week for the Frenchman, who saw his side falter in three competitions. Wenger watched his team labour to an FA Cup draw against Championship side Hull, then put themselves on the brink of a Champions League exit at the hands of Barcelona. “This is a fight where you keep going even when disappointment is there. Let’s show we are prepared for the fight,” he said.

Arsenal have not enjoyed their Premier League visits to Old Trafford in recent seasons, failing to pick up three points there since September 2006. And many felt the Gunners needed to finally win at Old Trafford if they are going to end an even longer barren run – becoming the English champions. The opportunity to beat United was probably the easiest for Arsenal than any other time during Arsene Wenger’s 20-year reign. But their defensive errors cost them dearly. “I cannot fault the commitment and desire but unfortunately we conceded two easy goals,” said Wenger afterwards.

Really? The manager & club are perfect for each other, lacking passion and commitment to winning the league. Can we please now throw that moron Arsehole Wenger outta this club he has fucked up? I think it’s time to look at the squad hard and long and chuck out a few players. And that manager! A big fuck you to Arsehole Wenger. Get the fuck outta our club!

Arsenal 0 Barcelona 2

Lionel Messi effectively condemned Arsenal to a sixth successive exit at the last-16 stage of the Champions League with two decisive goals at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal battled gallantly to give themselves a chance going into the second leg at the Nou Camp in three weeks’ time – but suffered at the hands of Barcelona’s superstar trio Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez. After Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud had come close to giving Arsenal the lead, Messi scored his first goal against keeper Petr Cech at the seventh attempt when he crowned a blistering counter-attack involving Suarez and Neymar to sweep home a finish after 71 minutes.

And further damage was inflicted seven minutes from time when Arsenal substitute Mathieu Flamini floored Messi with a mistimed challenge and he got up to send Cech the wrong way from the spot. It was his eighth goal against Arsenal in the Champions League. Suarez hit the post and Cech saved from Neymar as Barcelona took control – but this tie already looks well out of Arsenal’s reach. Arsenal went out to Barcelona in 2010 and 2011 and that was after a draw and a win at Emirates Stadium – so their chances can be all but written off after this defeat. The Gunners had their chances but they came to nothing, with Oxlade-Chamberlain a culprit when he allowed Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to save from a huge opportunity before Giroud saw a second-half header well saved. Such is the ruthlessness of this Barcelona side that even half-chances (or less) have to be accepted and, if they are not, there is almost an inevitability about the outcome.

Wenger can make the usual optimistic noises about the second leg in the Nou Camp but it would be the greatest result of his reign if he managed to inspire a turnaround from this position. It is, perhaps, on nights like these that those calls for Wenger to sign a world-class striker carry greater resonance because even the smallest opportunities have to count and Arsenal were unable to do so. Arsenal and manager Wenger will be desolate after this result effectively consigns them to yet another last 16 exit – but they deserve a measure of credit for their display. In the first half they were hugely disciplined to keep Barcelona at bay, indeed in the first 30 minutes the holders only had two touches in Arsenal’s penalty area compared to 11 from Wenger’s team. Goalkeeper Cech was immense while Nacho Monreal and Aaron Ramsey were also excellent. Ultimately, however, Arsenal were not good enough – no shame in that – but all that is left is for Barcelona to complete the formalities in Catalonia in three weeks.

Arsenal 0 Hull City 0

Arsenal must travel to Hull for an FA Cup fifth-round replay after failing to turn dominance into victory against the Championship leaders. The Gunners had two penalty claims denied and had chances to win the game through Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck. Hull keeper Eldin Jakupovic made a string of saves, most notably touching Joel Campbell’s free-kick on to a post. The Tigers created little, but defended admirably to frustrate Arsene Wenger in his 100th FA Cup game as Arsenal boss. The two sides made a total of 19 changes between them from their previous games – nine for Arsenal and 10 for Hull. But Steve Bruce’s Tigers not only ended a 14-game winning run in the FA Cup for the Gunners, they also prevented a repeat of their defeats by the Londoners in the 2014 final and last season’s third round.

Arsenal’s priorities undoubtedly lie elsewhere, with Wenger’s side only two points off the top of the Premier League and a visit of Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie coming up on Tuesday. Europe is particularly pressing for the Gunners, who have failed to go past the last 16 in any of the past five seasons, which meant there was no place for key man Mesut Ozil in the squad, while Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez were restricted to contributions from the bench. Despite the team bearing little resemblance to the XI that started in the 2-1 win over Leicester City last week, the Gunners were good enough to control the game from start to finish and created enough chances to have secured a comfortable victory. However, the draw means Arsenal are still in with a chance of becoming the first team to win three consecutive FA Cups since Blackburn Rovers accomplished the feat 130 years ago.

Arsenal’s only issue came in front of goal, as they moved the ball around with precision to carve out 24 shots – 11 on target – compared to the six shots mustered by Hull. But they could not find a way past Jakupovic, who allowed himself a self-congratulatory moment after taking time out to watch a replay of one of his saves on the big screen at the Emirates. January signing Elneny, making only his second start for the Gunners, put in a standout performance for the home side. The Egypt international was always available for the ball in midfield and dictated the pace for Arsenal from the middle of the park. And there were promising signs from 19-year-old Nigerian Iwobi, who found plenty of space behind striker Theo Walcott to attempt through balls into a congested Hull penalty area, only for the hosts to draw a blank every time.

Arsenal 2 Leicester City 1

Danny Welbeck threw the Premier League title race wide open when he scored a dramatic winner with only seconds left as Arsenal beat leaders Leicester City. The Foxes looked set to hold out for a vital draw as a thrilling game went into injury time, despite being reduced to 10 men after Danny Simpson was sent off for a second yellow card early in the second half. This was until Welbeck, playing his first competitive game since April last year, glanced Mesut Ozil’s free-kick past the magnificent Kasper Schmeichel to spark wild celebrations at Emirates Stadium as Leicester lost in the league for just the third time this season. Jamie Vardy gave the Foxes the lead with a hotly-disputed penalty on the stroke of half-time after he tumbled over Nacho Monreal’s outstretched leg.

Substitute Theo Walcott then set up a frantic final 20 minutes with a side-foot finish from Olivier Giroud’s superb knockdown. Leicester still lead the table – but Arsenal’s win leaves them only two points clear. In those closing seconds, with the Emirates awash with tension and anxiety, it looked like Leicester would secure a point that would feel like a victory to manager Claudio Ranieri and his players. It would have been a draw achieved with a numerical disadvantage at the home of a title rival – and would have given them four precious points from visits to Manchester City and Arsenal. Instead, Welbeck’s intervention left Ranieri and his men desolate after an outstanding backs-to-the-wall performance, exemplified by the brilliance of keeper Schmeichel as he kept Arsenal at bay, with one late save from Giroud world-class especially notable.

As for Arsenal, this result will revive their title hopes as the impact will be just as dramatic for them. It would have felt like a defeat had they not beaten a Leicester side reduced to 10 men for 36 minutes. So the title landscape has changed – but it is still Leicester at the top of the table. Walcott’s equaliser and that injury-time winner from Welbeck, who has been out for almost a year with a knee injury, was reward for their persistence and effort in the second half. It was not just vital in the context of this game, it was crucial in the wider context after a poor run of home form which had seen the Gunners fail to win in four league games – with three draws and a defeat – before last week’s win at Bournemouth.

Bournemouth 0 Arsenal 2

Arsenal scored twice in 88 first-half seconds to overwhelm Bournemouth and move level on points with second-placed Tottenham. Mesut Ozil lashed the ball home from 12 yards for the Gunners’ opener, before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain drifted in from the right and scored with a low shot. Bournemouth played some slick football at times and had more attempts at goal, but their finishing was poor. Matt Ritchie was the chief culprit, with none of his five shots on target. For Arsenal, who had not won in the league since 3 January, the relief was clear. They controlled the game with early possession before catching Bournemouth with a pair of swift strikes which rendered the contest a foregone conclusion.

Ozil set the Gunners on their way with a powerful shot after Olivier Giroud had headed Aaron Ramsey’s long pass into the German’s feet. And Arsene Wenger’s pre-match assertion that Oxlade-Chamberlain was in form and would offer good balance on the right proved prophetic when the winger came inside and his low shot went in via the far post. Again, Ramsey had a hand in the goal – the Welshman pulling the strings for the Gunners and giving Bournemouth a lesson in turning some eye-catching moves into ruthless attacks. Despite chasing the game in the second half, it took until stoppage time for Bournemouth to test Petr Cech, when the Arsenal keeper made a fine double save to deny Steve Cook and Harry Arter from low shots. Until then, it had been a succession of wayward pops at goal and intricate, but not incisive, approach play.

Arsenal are unbeaten in 23 fixtures against newly-promoted sides, winning 19 and drawing four. Mesut Ozil has now scored in both Premier League matches versus Bournemouth this season with both goals having been assisted by Olivier Giroud. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored his first Premier League goal in 38 appearances. It was his first goal involvement in 26 Premier League games. The Gunners move into 3rd place with 48 points, same as 2nd place Tottenham who have a better goal difference, and 5 points behind leaders Leicester City.

Arsenal 0 Southampton 0

Arsenal lost further ground in the Premier League title race as they were held to a goalless draw by Southampton. The Gunners had numerous chances but were unable to break down a resilient Saints side, who have now gone four games without conceding. Away keeper Fraser Forster was superb, making a string of impressive saves, including two to deny Mesut Ozil. Arsenal are now winless in four league games and drop to fourth in the table, five points behind leaders Leicester.

Arsene Wenger’s side are also now two points behind both second-placed Manchester City and north London rivals Tottenham, who are third and have a superior goal difference. Worryingly for the Gunners boss, who opted not to recruit another striker in the recent transfer window, his side have now gone three Premier League games without scoring. The result is further proof of the resilience Ronald Koeman has instilled in Southampton, who won 1-0 at Manchester United 10 days ago and are eighth in the table after picking up 10 points in their last four matches. On Boxing Day, Arsenal lost 4-0 at Southampton – their only truly heavy defeat of this league campaign and a result that cost them the chance to go top of the Premier League at Leicester’s expense.

The Foxes’ victory over Liverpool on Tuesday meant that Arsenal would not have gone top even with a win over Southampton, but this will be just as frustrating a result as the one they suffered at St Mary’s. Credit must go to Koeman’s side for their defensive display but that does not excuse the Gunners for their pedestrian start and the chances they missed. Ozil should have scored twice in the first half but Forster was alert and nimble to block his close-range shots and in the second half a host of players had good opportunities, including Olivier Giroud, who had a shot and header tipped away, and Laurent Koscielny who headed over from six yards out. Alexis Sanchez was typically lively in his first league start since the end of November, but was also unable to find a way past the Saints keeper as the Gunners made it three games without a goal for the first time since February 2009.

Arsenal 2 Burnley 1

Arsenal maintained hopes of winning the FA Cup for a third season in a row as Alexis Sanchez’s goal carried them past Burnley and into round five. The Premier League side led when Calum Chambers superbly curled in from 18 yards with the outside of his foot. Championship side Burnley hit back as Sam Vokes headed in Tendayi Darikwa’s cross and an Alex Iwobi interception denied Andre Gray after the break. Sanchez – making his first start since November – finished coolly to win it. The Chile international – who has made just one substitute appearance since suffering a hamstring injury in November – was lively throughout and turned in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross after Darikwa was dispossessed in midfield.

There can be no doubt the holders deserved a place in Sunday’s draw as they enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and chances, though Burnley created a nervy finish. The impressive Gray caught sight of goal late on but could not get meaningful power in his shot and as the visitors threw bodies forward, substitute Theo Walcott missed a glorious chance to add a third on the break as he failed to round Tom Heaton. Arsenal’s match programme featured the FA Cup trophy on the front cover along with the words “To have and to hold”. They move a step closer to emulating the Blackburn Rovers side of 1886 by winning a third FA Cup in a row, though this was far from vintage. They made nine changes to the side beaten by Chelsea last weekend but still fired 23 shots at the Burnley goal as Arsene Wenger maintained his record of only losing to lower-league opposition once in 41 FA Cup ties. Solid appearances from the likes of Chambers and Iwobi show he has a squad capable of maintaining a challenge in this competition but the anxious moments – particularly with the ball in the air in their box – will continue prompt some concern.

Mohamed Elneny saw more of the ball than any other player – with 100 touches – on his first outing since joining for £5m from Basel earlier this month. His completion of 96% of his passes was impressive but as a deep midfielder, he often found himself with plenty of time on the ball, meaning there will be tougher tests to come. While Elneny was steady between the penalty areas, Sanchez was pivotal inside the box. He did not break stride to slam home his goal, created the opener for Chambers and looked lively throughout. His return could be crucial ahead of a key February when Arsenal play the likes of leaders Leicester, Barcelona and Manchester United. Though Arsenal looked impressive enough to create many chances, their finishing is a cause for concern.

Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1

Another game against Chelsea and another defender sent off for fouling that asshole Cost and another loss. Arsenal lost the game even before kickoff because even though Moaning Mourinho may have gone, the Gunners cannot get over their boogie team in Chelshit. Ten-man Arsenal missed the chance to go top of the Premier League as Diego Costa’s winner gave Chelsea victory at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners never fully recovered from defender Per Mertesacker’s 18th-minute red card, awarded by referee Mark Clattenburg after he hauled down Costa as the striker raced clear. The revitalised Costa scored the decisive goal five minutes later, turning in Branislav Ivanovic’s cross at the near post to make it nine Premier League games without defeat for Chelsea against Arsenal.

Arsenal’s potency suffered after manager Arsene Wenger decided to replace striker Olivier Giroud and introduce defender Gabriel to compensate for Mertesacker’s dismissal. Victory would have put Arsenal back on top but Chelsea survived in relative comfort to leave the Gunners in third place with Leicester City now holding a three-point lead over Manchester City at the Premier League summit. This was the day Arsenal were meant to lay the ghost of Chelsea, who went into this game unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games against the Gunners. Even Wenger’s bogey man, Jose Mourinho, was out of the picture after his sacking. Wenger has lost five and drawn six of eleven league meetings with his old adversary. And yet it was the same old story for Arsenal as the frustration of their players and fans inside the Emirates reached boiling point long before the final whistle. There was no shortage of spirit and endeavour from Arsenal in the face of the numerical disadvantage inflicted on them after Mertesacker’s early red card.

If anything, it was inspiration and a little self-belief Arsenal lacked against a side that looked physically stronger in a game where Wenger’s side was missing a warrior who could get in and among the visitors in those exchanges. Their best effort of the match fell to Mathieu Flamini who attempted to convert Aaron Ramsey’s through-ball with a kung-fu kick, where a header might have been more appropriate. The result is hardly a terminal blow to Arsenal’s ambitions but a wound inflicted in familiar fashion. It now remains to be seen how much of an after-effect there is. Arsenal stays in 3rd place with 44 points after 23 games played.

Stoke City 0 Arsenal 0

Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League thanks to a point from a goalless draw at Stoke. Arsene Wenger’s side missed the creativity of Mesut Ozil, who was injured, but had chances to win the game only to be denied by Jack Butland. The England goalkeeper tipped over Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s long-range strike, before denying Olivier Giroud’s header. Stoke finished strongly as Jon Walters had a late header cleared off the line by Aaron Ramsey. The draw means Arsenal move ahead of Leicester on goal difference. Stoke remain seventh. Arsenal have started 2016 well poised to challenge for a first league title in 12 years, and key to their impressive form this season has been Ozil.

The German tops the Premier League assist chart with 16, so his absence on Sunday because of a foot injury was undoubtedly a big blow for the Gunners. It did, however, provided Oxlade-Chamberlain with the chance to step up. He certainly looked like he had a point to prove, forcing Butland into a fine one-handed save with a curling strike midway through the first half. However, he was also guilty of losing possession at times and became increasingly anonymous as the game wore on. If he is to prove himself an able deputy for Ozil, he will need to a show a lot more than he did on Sunday. Arsenal were looking for their first win at the Britannia Stadium since 2010, so a victory at Stoke – especially without their talisman Ozil – would certainly have underlined their credentials as genuine title contenders. In the opening stages of the game, however, they were second best, struggling to match Stoke’s neat passing.

They improved as the game wore on, but not by much. Giroud’s header – well saved by Butland – was their only effort on target in the second half. Stoke could have snatched all three points just before full-time, but Walters’ header from a corner was kept out by Ramsey, before Petr Cech blocked Joselu’s follow-up. So Arsenal are back on top with 44 points, same as Lesicester and 1 point more than Manchester City and 5 more than 4th place Tottenham. Next up is Chelsea at home on Sunday.

Arsenal Unveil New Signing Elneny

After weeks of negotiations, Arsenal have confirmed that the 23-year-old Egyptian international has now joined the club, and could be in line to play against Stoke on Sunday. It’s understood that the player has signed a four-and-a-half year contract at the Emirates Stadium, with the fee thought to be in the region of £5million. The signing comes as a response to the spate of injuries Arsenal have suffered in central midfield, but there’s enough about Elneny to suggest he could be a real success at the club.

Elneny is:
– A quick, energetic midfielder that specialises in a defensive role

– A renowned distance shooter

– Arsenal’s first outfield signing for 351 days

– An Egyptian international with 39 caps at the age of 23

– A serial league winner – he won the title in each of his three seasons with Basel

– A solid passer – he has the second highest pass percentage in this season’s Europa League

He’s set to become the first defensive midfielder Arsenal have signed from another club since 2007, when Lassana Diarra joined from Chelsea. It’s obvious, but it’s difficult to overstate just how badly Arsenal have needed a new defensive midfielder over the years. Francis Coquelin’s emergence was arguably more down to luck than judgement, with the Frenchman’s rapid acclimatization to the Premier League even surprising Wenger himself. Those who have watched Elneny will know he is a tireless runner that will get up and down the pitch and press opponents all day. It’s been a while since Arsenal have had a truly dynamic defensive midfielder, with the likes of Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini and Coquelin all relatively restricted in terms of mobility.

Along with distance shooting, Elneny has also forged a reputation for being an excellent passer. His pass completion rate of 92.4% in this year’s Europa League was the highest posted by any Basel player, while he also averaged 92 passes per game in the competition.

Liverpool 3 Arsenal 3

Arsenal had their advantage at the top of the Premier League cut after Joe Allen’s late equaliser gave Liverpool a deserved point in an Anfield thriller. Olivier Giroud’s second-half strike – his second of the night and 18th of the season – looked to have put the Gunners on course for a crucial victory, but substitute Allen rewarded the hosts for a display bursting with energy and spirit with a low 90th-minute finish. Roberto Firmino twice gave Liverpool the lead in a breathless first half, the second a spectacular 20-yard drive, but Arsenal took advantage of poor defending from Jurgen Klopp’s side to level through Aaron Ramsey and Giroud.

Giroud also missed an open goal in the first half, while Firmino glanced a shot off the bar in a wide open game. With 10 minutes remaining, Arsenal’s lead at the top of the table was four points. Yet Robert Huth’s late winner for Leicester City at Tottenham and Allen’s late strike left Arsenal only ahead of the Foxes on goal difference. The visitors looked to have finally established supremacy in this topsy-turvy encounter when Giroud turned to put them ahead 10 minutes after the break – but then failed to press home the advantage and paid a heavy price. And it will be a matter of concern to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger that on nights like this at places like Anfield, they did not show the necessary ruthlessness to close out a game that was within their grasp. The Reds deserve great credit for the way they responded to the disappointment of going behind after leading twice – but Arsenal showed no assurance or authority when the pressure mounted in the closing stages and there was an inevitability about Allen’s equaliser.

Arsenal, when they should have been pressuring a desperately poor and under-strength Liverpool defence, instead allowed themselves to be pushed back. This was two points lost and Klopp will be the much happier manager. For such a regular goalscorer, Giroud remains a maligned figure by some Arsenal fans who regard him as just short of the highest class – and yet his strike rate speaks eloquently on his behalf. He showed a poacher’s instinct to touch home his first from Ramsey’s corner then showed good awareness and movement to turn Kolo Toure and score his second.
And yet those who remain unconvinced by Giroud will point to his astonishing first-half miss when he somehow failed to convert Hector Bellerin’s pass from a matter of inches in front of the Kop. Here, though, he demonstrated again that he will get goals and that is the best answer he can give to those who still doubt the France striker’s pedigree. Giroud has scored in four times in his past four Premier League games against Liverpool and has scored 11 goals in his past 11 appearances away from home in all competitions.

Arsenal are in first place with 43 points the same as Leicester City.

Arsenal 3 Sunderland 1

FA Cup holders Arsenal came from behind to record a comfortable third-round win against Premier League strugglers Sunderland at Emirates Stadium. The visitors took a surprise lead when Jeremain Lens struck inside the box. Arsenal equalised through Joel Campbell’s half-volley, before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hit the woodwork. Substitute Aaron Ramsey tapped in late on to put Arsenal ahead before Olivier Giroud’s close-range finish wrapped up a 13th consecutive win in the FA Cup. Arsenal, who beat Aston Villa 4-0 in last season’s final, have won the FA Cup 12 times – more than any other side. Six of those have come under Arsene Wenger, who will become the competition’s most successful manager with one more victory.

Arsenal may be top of the Premier League, but Wenger underlined his intention to take the FA Cup seriously by naming a strong side, with first-team regulars Petr Cech, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud and Theo Walcott all included. It was a decision that paid off. After Sunderland’s unexpected opener, Walcott provided the assist for Arsenal’s equaliser and Hector Bellerin played a key role in their next two goals as the hosts’ experienced men carried them forward while the visitors’ mix of fringe and youth players wilted. Lens took advantage of some uncharacteristic hesitancy in the Gunners’ defence to score. That was only Lens’ third goal in 17 appearances for Sunderland, but his overall play will have been encouraging for Black Cats fans as his pace and physical presence caused the hosts a number of problems.

Arsenal have not lost an FA Cup tie in 13 games since Blackburn beat them 1-0 in February 2013 at the Emirates in the fifth round. No manager has won the FA Cup more times than Arsene Wenger (six). His first game in the competition was against Sunderland in the third round in 1997. Arsenal have not been defeated in the third round since losing a replay to Sheffield United 1-0 at Bramall Lane in January 1996 (W18 D5).

Arsenal 1 Newcastle United 0

Arsenal moved two points clear of Leicester at the top of the Premier League table with a win over Newcastle. The unconvincing Gunners looked set for a point on a soggy Emirates Stadium pitch until defender Laurent Koscielny came to the rescue with a close-range poked winner in the 72nd minute. The Magpies should have come away with at least a point, having been on the front foot for much of the second half. Georginio Wijnaldum went closest but his shot was saved by Petr Cech.

It was not pretty, nor was it particularly effective but it was a win that kept the belief going among Arsenal fans that this might be their season. The Gunners may not deserve the three points, and few would have begrudged the Magpies victory, but the goal encapsulated why Arsenal are top and why the visitors are struggling. Newcastle striker Ayoze Perez covered a lot of ground, helping out his team-mates in midfield to quell the danger posed by the likes of Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. However, the young Spaniard switched off in the 72nd minute, allowing Koscielny to stick out a foot and convert an Olivier Giroud header. The Magpies midfield dominated their counterparts for periods of the match. The wingers did not look up for the battle, with Oxlade-Chamberlain only winning 33.3% of his duels, while Theo Walcott won 36.4% of his – the two lowest figures in the Arsenal side.

Arsenal have won nine successive Premier League games against Newcastle. The Magpies have scored just six goals in their last 16 Premier League away trips. Koscielny has scored three goals against Newcastle, more than he has any other Premier League opponent. Wenger has won 11 of his 12 Premier League meetings with Steve McClaren, losing the other. The Gunners are unbeaten in nine Premier League home games, winning seven and drawing two and now sit 2 points clear at the top of the Premier League with 42 points.

Arsenal 2 Bournemouth 0

Mesut Ozil inspired Arsenal to reclaim top spot in the Premier League, at least for 24 hours, as they won their first league meeting with Bournemouth. After a tense opening, Ozil’s corner was met with a firm header by defender Gabriel for his first goal in English football. Ozil made it 2-0 after the break from a slick one-two with Olivier Giroud. Bournemouth showed plenty of spirit, but could not find their way through as Arsenal closed out the victory. With Leicester not playing until Tuesday, Arsenal leapfrog them into top spot by one point. Bournemouth, meanwhile, slip to 16th and remain only three points from danger as their six-match unbeaten run came to an end.

If Arsene Wenger wanted a reaction from his squad, having rung the changes following Boxing Day’s 4-0 mauling at Southampton, it took a while in coming. But all it needed was the first goal just before the half-hour to kick the hosts, and their familiar fluent passing game, into gear. All four of those Arsenal newcomers played their part as Gabriel opened his goalscoring account. Kieran Gibbs had his hands full with the dangerous Matt Ritchie, Calum Chambers brushed off rumours of a January loan return to Southampton with an assured midfield display, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain threatened with his pace when Arsenal broke, going close to adding a third goal late on.

Although Bournemouth had overcome a 2-0 deficit to draw 3-3 with Everton in an enthralling game last month, such a comeback never looked on the cards here once Ozil had unlocked them. Gunners keeper Petr Cech was tested more than his opposite number Artur Boruc early on, as Bournemouth’s Harry Arter opened up the defence with some through balls to lone striker Joshua King, who was twice denied by Cech to keep the game goalless. But as the game went on, even when the Cherries found some space in the final third, there was no way past the Czech goalkeeper, who kept out Matt Ritchie’s 30-yard drive and celebrated his 170th top-flight clean sheet to set a new Premier League record. Arsenal’s title-winning sides of the past were built on solid goalkeeping, from Bob Wilson and John Lukic to David Seaman and Jens Lehmann. The purchase of Cech from Chelsea in the summer could turn out to be the key to a first title for 12 years.

Southampton 4 Arsenal 0

Arsenal missed the chance to go top of the Premier League as they were thrashed by Southampton at St Mary’s. Saints full-back Cuco Martina marked his first league start with a stunning goal, curling in from 30 yards out. Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott missed free headers, before Shane Long finished from close range and Jose Fonte headed in the third. Striker Long struck the post with three minutes remaining, but managed to add a fourth through the legs of Petr Cech. It could have been even worse for the visitors. Virgil van Dijk had a header ruled out for offside, while Dusan Tadic’s dipping strike was pushed away by Cech.

Arsenal had lost just one of their previous 11 league games and recorded an impressive victory over Manchester City on Monday but Arsene Wenger’s side could not back that performance up with victory on the south coast. Having seen leaders Leicester beaten by Liverpool earlier in the day, the Gunners would have gone top with a win but were resoundingly beaten by a rampant Southampton side. Playmaker Mesut Ozil – who has received plenty of plaudits for his impressive performances this season – was kept quiet by the Southampton midfield, while former Saint Walcott posed little threat, attempting only 20 passes before being substituted.

The pressure was starting to grow on Southampton boss Ronald Koeman after five winless games left them just four points above the relegation zone. But they were marshalled brilliantly in the middle of the park by the superb Victor Wanyama, who made a match-high six tackles and 10 interceptions, often bullying the opposition players. The opening goal was stunning. There seemed to be no danger when defender Per Mertesacker headed the ball away, and Martina steadied himself before unleashing an outside-of-the-foot drive which started wide of the post before swerving into the net. There was a hint of controversy in it though, as Long and Laurent Koscielny came together in the build-up, leaving the Frenchman on the ground, allowing Long to stride forward unchallenged and stroke in from Sadio Mane’s pass. Defender Fonte added a bullet header and Long grabbed his second to complete a comprehensive victory for Southampton who managed their first clean sheet in six games.

Luckily Arsenal remain in 2nd place on 26 points, 2 behind Leicester City but just a point above Manchester City.