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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).

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Arsenal 2 Reading 0

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored twice as Arsenal extended their unbeaten run with a hard-fought EFL Cup win against Championship side Reading. The England midfielder opened the scoring when he skipped into the box and drilled into the bottom corner. Reading almost equalised when Callum Harriott’s deflected shot landed on top of Emiliano Martinez’s goal. Arsenal dominated after half-time, with Oxlade-Chamberlain’s deflected shot completing a 14th game without defeat. Oxlade-Chamberlain, 23, has struggled to claim a regular starting place in Arsene Wenger’s first-choice side during their fine start to the campaign.

He has completed 90 minutes on just two occasions this season, but staked his claim for a bigger role with the standout performance in a much-changed Arsenal team. While there was little to remind the Emirates Stadium crowd of Arsenal’s memorable 7-5 win when the teams met in this competition in 2012, it maintains the Gunners’ hopes of winning the League Cup for the first time since 1993. Reading acquitted themselves well for the most of the contest, but were put on the back foot when a sloppy pass from keeper Ali Al-Habsi allowed Oxlade-Chamberlain to win back possession high up the field and then open the scoring. Al-Habsi partially redeemed himself with several saves after the break, but was powerless to stop the second which deflected off Royals defender Jordan Obita to seal victory.

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Arsenal 0 Middlesborough 0

Arsenal’s six-match winning run in the Premier League came to an end against Middlesbrough but a point was enough to move them top of the table. Manager Arsene Wenger – celebrating his 67th birthday – watched his side dominate possession but underwhelm in the final third. The Gunners managed five efforts on target, but only one worried Boro keeper Victor Valdes when he pulled off a great one-handed stop to deny Alexis Sanchez. Aitor Karanka’s side defended brilliantly and, despite conceding much of the possession to the home side, created the better chances. Arsenal keeper Petr Cech blocked Gaston Ramirez’s header, twice denied the outstanding Adama Traore and also saved from Alvaro Negredo. The home side briefly thought they had won it in injury time but Mesut Ozil’s effort was rightly ruled out for offside. Despite remaining in 17th place, Boro should be buoyed by the display and unexpected result.

The invitations have been sent out, the hall is decorated and the party food is prepared – but then only a handful of guests turn up and music is barely audible. That is how birthday boy Wenger must have felt at the final whistle as his side, who have been in tremendous form, had their wings clipped by a resilient and disciplined Boro. Karanka’s side might have only had 25% of the possession but the gameplan was to set up a defensive wall across their area and hit the Gunners on the counter-attack. Wenger’s men tried almost everything. After failing to walk through the Boro defence they tried to play the ball over the top, but lacked accuracy. When they did have a sight of goal they lacked conviction. Sanchez tested former Barcelona team-mate Valdes from 20 yards but should have done much better with one from half that distance. They mustered a final set of attacks in the closing moments and had the ball in the net when Ozil poked in, but the German was clearly offside.

Finding goals was Middlesbrough’s problem coming into this game having scored only seven in the league. Loan signing Negredo netted on the opening day of the season but has been off-key since. At the Emirates he should have beaten Cech with a low shot and then, with moments remaining, he allowed Laurent Koscielny to tackle him in the area. Both Gaston Ramirez and in particular Traore impressed in midfield, with Karanka’s counter-attacking plan suiting the pacy Spaniard, who twice threatened with runs from his own area. One of those ended with a shot that Cech had to push away and another saw him play in Negredo for that late chance. The 20-year-old also had another strike saved by the Gunners keeper in the first half. If Boro build on this display and start finding the net then they might avoid a relegation battle at the end of the season.

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Arsenal 6 Ludogorets 0

Mesut Ozil scored a hat-trick after stunning goals from Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott as Arsenal dismantled Ludogorets Razgrad in a ruthless Champions League display. Sanchez got the first with a masterful chip from just inside the box. Walcott powered a curling shot home after Ludogorets’ Wanderson hit a post. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain smashed a loose ball into the corner for the third, before Ozil claimed the first hat-trick of his career. The Gunners have won seven games in a row in all competitions – scoring 23 goals – and are unbeaten in 11 matches. Their last defeat was at home to Liverpool on the opening day of the Premier League season.

Victory over Bulgarian champions Ludogorets means Arsenal top Group A ahead of Paris St-Germain, who beat Basel 3-0, on goal difference. As Sanchez’s drifting lob settled in the Ludogorets net, gleeful manager Arsene Wenger leapt from the bench in celebration. It was just the beginning. The Frenchman’s side were so dominant and full of confidence they perhaps should even have won by a greater margin. Oxlade-Chamberlain certainly might have provided a better finish to Sanchez’s beautifully disguised chipped through pass – the Chilean’s second moment of genius on a night his hard running and quick mind came to the fore. But the player who most obviously embodies Arsenal’s new dynamic mood is Walcott. He impressively put two earlier missed chances out of mind when doubling the lead with a powerful strike that signalled the away side’s slide towards heavy defeat. It was the 27-year-old’s seventh goal in his past six Arsenal games, having scored the same amount in his previous 42.

For 60 minutes, Walcott and Sanchez terrified the opposition backline with their pace, and he went off to huge round of applause when he was replaced by Lucas Perez. There were big smiles as he took up a seat on the bench – from both Walcott and Wenger. In each of the past six seasons, Arsenal have fallen at the first knockout stage, the last 16. In all but one of those seasons, they finished second in their group. With Swiss club Basel and Ludogorets six points adrift with three matches to play, Group A will surely be won by Arsenal or French champions PSG. The Gunners began their Champions League campaign with a battling point in Paris, and the two teams meet in north London on 23 November.

Walcott has scored three Champions League goals this season, already his best return in a campaign. Ozil’s assist for Walcott’s goal was his first in 10 games in all competitions for Arsenal this season. This game was the first time since October 2000 two English players scored in a Champions League match for Arsenal (after Ray Parlour and Lee Dixon v Sparta Prague). The Gunners are unbeaten in their first three Champions League group games for the first time since 2011-12. Arsenal scored six goals in a Champions League game for the first time since September 2010 (6-0 v Braga).

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Arsenal 3 Swansea City 2

Theo Walcott scored twice as 10-man Arsenal won their sixth Premier League game in a row, despite a spirited Swansea City display in Bob Bradley’s first match as manager. Gunners and England forward Walcott now has five goals in eight games, taking advantage of a heavy Jordi Amat touch for his first and a poor Jack Cork header for his second. The Swans looked dejected after the quick-fire double, though Gylfi Sigurdsson pounced on a Granit Xhaka error to curl in and give them hope before the break. Mesut Ozil volleyed an Alexis Sanchez cross into the top corner to restore a two-goal lead for the hosts, but substitute Borja tapped in from the impressive Modou Barrow’s cross to set up a tense finale.

Arsenal saw Xhaka sent off for a petulant trip with 20 minutes left and dug in to earn a win which moves them level on points with league leaders Manchester City. Defeat leaves Swansea in the bottom three, winless since the opening day and they have now equalled their worst start to a league season. But it would be wrong to be overly negative about this display. They were competitive early on but two defensive lapses left them facing a deficit they almost clawed back. Walcott was on hand from close range to punish them and he has now scored as many goals in eight outings as he did in all 28 of his Premier League appearances last season. The 27-year-old has only ever reached double figures once in a league season, scoring 14 times in the 2012-13 campaign. But he seemed hungry in front of goal, with six shots – a game high – and showed instinct to sense Amat would have difficulty dealing with a bouncing ball, allowing him to prod the opener. Walcott’s approach play was also sharp – completing 92% of his passes – and he worked hard too, with only Santi Cazorla and Hector Bellerin covering more ground for Arsene Wenger’s side.

Late on he missed two one-on-one chances for his hat-trick, the first of which saw him strike the post and watch as the ball rolled agonisingly back across the goalline. Walcott’s late misses were among 16 Arsenal shots – but Swansea managed 13 themselves. Xhaka was Arsenal’s main negative during what was at times a thrilling encounter. His error for Sigurdsson’s excellent finish gave Swansea a footing, his late kick on Barrow almost put his side under more pressure than they could take. Wenger said he would not appeal the dismissal but admitted it “made it difficult for us” after watching his goalkeeper Petr Cech save headers from Leroy Fer and Federico Fernandez late on. The erratic display by his £35m signing may prompt concern, but Wenger should be pleased to see what he called “good solidarity” to hold on for the win. The recent international break marked 20 years at the club for the Frenchman. With his contract up in the summer, how many more chances will he have to guide Arsenal to their first title since 2004? His side have trailed for just 52 minutes in the league this season. They have been solid and when questioned by Swansea they found the grit which will undoubtedly be needed if they are to end their title wait. The Gunners are the only Premier League side to have won (30) more games than they’ve lost (26) when they’ve had a player sent off.

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Burnley 0 Arsenal 1

Burnley suffered, what would seem like a cruel, defeat at Turf Moor as Arsenal secured victory with a controversial Laurent Koscielny goal in the final act of an intriguing match. In added time, Theo Walcott headed across goal towards Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain whose effort went in off what appeared to be Koscielny’s elbow. As well as a possible handball, there was also a hint of offside with captain Koscielny standing on the goalline. Michael Keane had Burnley’s best chance, heading on to the crossbar. But despite the Clarets’ fine defensive display, with Keane in particular impressing as they shut out Arsenal until the 94th minute, they came away with no points for their efforts.

The win allowed Arsenal to close the gap on league leaders Manchester City, who lost 2-0 at Tottenham in one of Sunday’s earlier kick-offs, to two points while overtaking Liverpool to claim third place. Manager Arsene Wenger admitted his team were fortunate in victory but with this result at Turf Moor, and convincing victories over Chelsea in the league and Basel in the Champions League in the last week, the north Londoners have hit a fine run of form, extending their unbeaten stretch to six league games. Immediately after the match, Koscielny – who was credited with the goal – said he did not know whether he had handled. “I tried with my right foot and I don’t know if I touch it with my hand,” the Frenchman said. Even though Burnley did not appeal for handball at the time, their manager Sean Dyche said afterwards the ball “quite clearly” hit the defender’s hand. To add to the confusion Arsenal’s winner caused, Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrated as if he had scored but the England international’s shot did appear to hit Koscielny’s arm before it crossed the line, while Dyche even suggested that it was the Arsenal captain who kicked the ball on to his own arm.

As another caveat, if it were the case that Oxlade-Chamberlain did kick the ball on to Koscielny’s arm, the defender would have been in an offside position. “You have to question the added time, the corner and whether it should have come in, the handball and question whether we should have dealt with it,” added Dyche. “It’s a poor way to end a game.” But no matter what the theories or Dyche’s thoughts, referee Craig Pawson saw nothing wrong with the winner which secured Arsenal a fifth successive Premier League win and ensured another win for Wenger as the 21st year of the 66-year-old’s reign began. Arsenal were their usual selves in possession – accurate, quick, dominant – but their pleasing-on-the-eye play would often break down as soon as they closed in on the Burnley box, in the first half especially.

The visitors had just one shot on target before the break – a trifling Mesut Ozil attempt in the 16th minute – and so organised were Burnley in defence, it quickly became clear why Dyche’s side had conceded only five goals in their last 17 league games at home before this match. Ozil was as disappointing as he was effervescent in the 3-0 win over Chelsea, his game summed up with a wayward shot which sailed into the stands when there were better options available to him. Wenger admitted his team were jaded after three matches in eight days. As the match progressed, the Gunners threatened more with Alexis Sanchez their most dangerous player, forcing a low save from goalkeeper Tom Heaton and then striking the bottom corner of the post after Burnley had failed to deal with an Ozil cross.

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Arsenal 2 Basel FC 0

Theo Walcott scored twice as Arsenal put in a dominant home display against Basel in the Champions League. It took the Gunners just six minutes to open the scoring as Walcott headed in from Alexis Sanchez’s cutback. The two Arsenal men linked up again as Englishman Walcott drilled low into the net to complete a swift team move. Basel goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik made good saves to deny Sanchez and Hector Bellerin, with Birkir Bjarnason coming close for the visitors.

Arsenal stunned rivals Chelsea 3-0 in the Premier League at the weekend and impressed again at the Emirates in this Group A encounter. Arsene Wenger’s side are now unbeaten in eight games in all competitions since losing to Liverpool on the opening day of the season. The sublime skill and movement of attacking trio Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Walcott, who already has five goals this season, was too much for Basel to handle and the margin of victory could have been far more emphatic. Santi Cazorla controlled the tempo of the game with 94 passes – more than any other player on the pitch – while centre-backs Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi were largely untroubled. Arsenal often start a season strongly before falling away, but if they can avoid major injuries and maintain a settled side, realistic challenges for the league title and the latter stages of the Champions League are not unthinkable.

The Xhaka brothers, Granit of Arsenal and Basel’s Taulant, faced each other again after crossing paths at Euro 2016.
In a quirk of international eligibility, Granit represents Switzerland while Taulant plays for Albania and it was the Gunners man who came out on top on that occasion. And it was the younger Xhaka sibling who triumphed again as his side totally outplayed the Swiss league champions. Midfielder Bjarnason, part of the Iceland side that beat England at the tournament in France, had a long-range effort tipped over by David Ospina, who also saved well from Andraz Sporar late on. Theo Walcott scored his first Champions League double since October 2007 against Slavia Prague. Walcott scored his first headed goal in the competition. Alexis Sanchez has had a hand in 11 of Arsenal’s last 16 Champions League goals (four goals, seven assists). Only Barcelona’s Neymar ( has more Champions League assists since the start of last season than Sanchez.

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Arsenal 3 Chelsea 0

Arsenal produced a devastating first-half display to dismantle Chelsea and secure a fourth successive Premier League win. Alexis Sanchez took advantage of Gary Cahill’s error to race clear and lift a composed finish over Thibaut Courtois after 11 minutes, and Theo Walcott completed a brilliant move to steer in Hector Bellerin’s pass three minutes later. Mesut Ozil then left N’Golo Kante trailing to expose Chelsea on the counter-attack and steer home Arsenal’s third five minutes before the break, after an exchange with Sanchez. It was little more than damage limitation for Chelsea after that as they fell to their second league loss in a row as rampant Arsenal moved third in the table.

Arsenal, for all Chelsea’s obvious frailties, were simply untouchable from back to front in a magnificent first 45 minutes that revived memories of their finest days. The Gunners showed pace, skill, pressed Chelsea into submission and probed weaknesses ruthlessly in the manner of a team at the top of its game. Arsenal’s fans, so often frustrated and having already expressed their discontent at home this season, left Emirates Stadium with a spring in their step and sharing the optimism expressed by manager Arsene Wenger. He wrote in his programme notes: “We feel as though we are on the way up.” This was a performance that spoke eloquently on behalf of Wenger’s theory – with the proviso Gunners fans have heard this talk before only to be disappointed. This, however, was a magnificent exhibition of power, pace and end product, from the skills of Sanchez and Ozil in attack to the lightning speed and tackling of Bellerin at the back.

When Sanchez and Ozil are in this mood, Arsenal are a threat to anyone. The pair are world class when at the peak of their powers – and they certainly were here. Sanchez hurried Cahill into a panic before a gloriously composed chip for Arsenal’s first, and he and Ozil combined to leave Chelsea’s defence embarrassed as the latter scored the third. Arsenal were outstanding in all areas – but Sanchez and Ozil provided the final flourishes with the sort of class that makes them central figures in all Wenger is trying to achieve this season. Arsene Wenger inflicted Antonio Conte’s heaviest league defeat since October 2010, when he was manager of Siena (3-0 loss to Empoli). Chelsea found themselves three goals down at half-time in a Premier League game for the first time since May 2012 (v Liverpool, 4-1 FT). This was the first time since October 2012 v Manchester United the Blues had conceded twice in the opening 15 minutes of a Premier League game. This is Arsene Wenger’s first win over Chelsea in the league since October 2011 (drew three, lost six). Chelsea’s first shot on target came in the 82nd minute. Hector Bellerin has provided more assists than any other Premier League defender since the start of last season (six). Theo Walcott scored in consecutive Premier League games for the first time since May 2013 (three in a row for the Gunners).

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Hull City 1 Arsenal 4

Alexis Sanchez scored twice and missed a penalty as Arsenal comfortably beat 10-man Hull City in the Premier League. Sanchez put Arsenal ahead when he got a touch on Alex Iwobi’s shot, but failed from the spot after Jake Livermore handled and was sent off. Theo Walcott added a second after the break before Robert Snodgrass pulled one back for the hosts with a penalty. Sanchez stroked a third into an empty net before Granit Xhaka’s spectacular shot rounded off the scoring.

Sanchez’s first goal owed much to fortune rather than brilliance as Iwobi arrived at the back post and saw his effort deflect in off the Chile international. Livermore was shown a straight red card five minutes before half-time when he blocked Iwobi’s goal-bound effort with his hands. Sanchez took responsibility for the penalty ahead of recent regular taker Santi Cazorla only to see his low effort saved by Hull goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic. It was a decision which also mystified Wenger who revealed it was “not planned for Sanchez to take it” and that he wants “to know what happened and for it not to happen again”. Walcott notched a second goal shortly before the hour mark when he got on the end of Iwobi’s clever flick with Hull defender Harry Maguire helping the ball into the net with his head. Snodgrass gave Hull a glimmer of hope when he converted from the spot after Petr Cech had brought down Dieumerci Mbokani, but Arsenal’s response was emphatic.

Sanchez struck after Jakupovic had blocked Walcott’s initial shot, before substitute Switzerland international Xhaka – a £35m summer signing from Borussia Monchengladbach – applied the gloss with the pick of the goals from distance. After three consecutive Premier League wins for the first time since last Christmas, Arsenal’s season now feels properly up and running. Hull made Arsenal work for this victory but the quality in Arsene Wenger’s side shone through. Even when he has an off day Sanchez can be a match-winner. These were not particularly classy strikes from the Chilean, but he got the job done. Wenger, in a season when the pressure is on him to deliver silverware, will likely feel there is plenty to build on from this performance.

Both teams have away trips in the third round of the EFL Cup during the week. Arsenal face Championship Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Tuesday while Hull benefit from a extra day of rest before they travel to the Potteries to play Stoke. Arsenal have won six games at the KCOM Stadium in all competitions – more than any other away side. Hull have lost back-to-back home league games for the first time since May 2015. Sanchez has been involved in eight goals in his five games against Hull in all competitions (six goals, two assists). Sanchez’s penalty miss means he is the only Arsenal player to take more than one Premier League penalty and fail to score with any of them. Arsene Wenger’s side have not lost any of their past 26 Premier League games against newly promoted sides (W22 D4).