Premier League - Resilient Arsenal return to the top with victory at Newcastle

Premier League, St James' Park - Newcastle United 0 Arsenal 1 (Giroud 65')

Olivier Giroud gave Arsenal three points in a 1-0 win against Newcastle United at St James' Park as Arsene Wenger's side returned to the top of the Premier League table.

The early stages of the first half were uneventful, but the game ended with a few heated challenges as Giroud was booked for a heavy tackle on Cheick Tiote, and was then clattered in a revenge foul by the midfielder.

Arsenal were forced into speculative shots from distance, and Newcastle’s best chance of the half came on the stroke of half-time when Jack Wilshere cleared a Mathieu Debuchy header off the line.

Giroud scored the winner in the second half, on 65 minutes, after Tiote, fouling throughout, gave away a free kick on Santi Cazorla. Theo Walcott’s sent a ball forward, and the French striker glanced the ball past Tim Krul, having evaded his markers.

With 10 minutes to go, Wojciech Szczesny almost gifted Newcastle an equaliser, hitting the ball into Loic Remy’s face, only to see the ball rebound a yard wide of goal.

KEY MOMENTS

31' - CAZORLA CHANCE - Cazorla shapes to shoot with his right foot, and cuts inside towards the centre. From outside the box he curls in a low, left-footed shot that Krul gets down early to stop.

65' - GOAL: NEWCASTLE 0-1 ARSENAL - Giroud scores! Walcott clips in a great ball for Giroud, splitting the defence with his run, and he glances a header past Krul.

69' - GIROUD SITTER - Walcott tries to stab the ball past Krul after a Wilshere through ball. Krul blocks it, and so Walcott chips a rebound over the keeper but Debuchy heads it out. Giroud can volley it at the goal, but it's miles wide. Terrible.

82' - SZCZESNY RELIEF - Szczesny just about clears the ball... by hitting it straight into Remy's face. The ball runs just a yard wide of the goal. What a daft thing to do.

90+1' - DESPERATE SCRAMBLE - Krul comes up for a corner. Ben Arfa sends it in, but it's booted out. Arsenal press forward but Newcastle win it back and come forward on the right wing. Ben Arfa gets into box, turns a defender to have miles of space, and shoots straight into the side netting when he should have crossed.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

KEY STATS

Arsenal have lost just one of their last 13 Premier League games at St James Park

Newcastle have conceded a total of 15 goals in their last six Premier League games against Arsenal.

Arsenal have lost only one of their last 18 final games of the year (0-1 to Sheffield United in 2006).

Arsenal have won the most points away from home in the Premier League this season (22).

Two of Olivier Giroud’s 19 Premier League goals have come outside of London, and both of them in the North East, one each against Newcastle and Sunderland.

Arsenal have won the most Premier League points in 2013: 82.

TALKING POINT

Can Arsenal buy a better striker than Giroud this winter? He scored the only goal of the game, but offered little else in general attacking play and missed an easy chance. The problem is that there are no obvious solutions to be bought this winter.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United): Giroud deserves credit for being the ultimate difference between the two sides, but the Newcastle defender was reliable in defence and created chances for the home side, and came closest to scoring for them.

PLAYER RATINGS

Newcastle United: Krul 6, Debuchy 7, Coloccini 6, Williamson 6, Santon 6, Anita 6, Tiote 5, Cabaye 6, Sissoko 6, Remy 6, Gouffran 6. Subs: Haidara 6, Ben Arfa 6, Shola Ameobi 6.

Arsenal: Szczesny 5, Sagna 6, Mertesacker 6, Koscielny 6, Gibbs 5, Flamini 6, Rosicky 6, Wilshere 6, Walcott 6, Cazorla 5, Giroud 6. Subs: Jenkinson 6, Arteta 6, Bendtner 6.

THE MATCH IN A TWEET