Double from Giroud downs Magpies
Double from Giroud downs Magpies

Two first-half goals from Olivier Giroud helped Arsenal to a hard-fought 2-1 win at St James’s Park over Newcastle United in the Premier League this afternoon.

The win keeps Arsenal a point behind Manchester City in the Premier League.

City beat 10-man West Bromwich Albion 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

The Gunners also moved to within four points of leaders Chelsea in the table.

The Blues play Hull City tomorrow, and have two games in hand over Manchester City and Arsenal.

Giroud scored twice in four minutes first half minutes to put the Gunners in control at the break, before Moussa Sissoko pulled a goal back for the Magpies in the second half to set up a tense finish.

Giroud has now scored eight goals in six Premier League appearances against the Magpies, and has scored eight goals in his last nine Premier League appearances.

Newcastle had the first goal scoring opportunity after two minutes when Sissoko broke from his own half and fed striker Ayoze Perez, who stepped inside defender Gabriel Paulista but saw his shot blocked.

Arsenal then went close through Alexis in the 13th-minute, but his shot was blocked by Ryan Taylor. Then Aaron Ramsey miscontrolled when through on goal.

The Gunners though took the lead on 24 minutes gone when Giroud reacted first, after Danny Welbeck flicked on Santi Cazorla’s free-kick, turning the ball into the net off his knee.

Danny Welbeck then had two chances to increase Arsenal’s lead. First he volleyed wide and then allowed the ball to squirm away from him after being played in by Giroud.

But the Gunners pressure was rewarded in the 28th minute.

Mike Williamson became involved in a wrestling match with Olivier Giroud, as the pair awaited Cazorla’s corner.

Giroud beat Williamson to the cross, and headed past goalkeeper Tim Krul.

Newcastle went close to pulling a goal back with Nacho Monreal blocking Remy Cabella’s goal-bound 39th-minute header at the end of a period of pressure from the home side.

The Magpies continued in the same vein after the break, and were rewarded within three minutes when Taylor and Cabella twice exchanged passes down the right, with Sissoko turning Cabella’s cross past David Ospina.

The goal galvanised Newcastle, and the home fans, and Perez twice went close with long distance efforts as Arsenal’s defence came under sustained pressure

Ospina beat away Williamson’s header from a Taylor corner after it clipped Sissoko on its way to goal, and Janmaat fired just wide with a long-range effort just wide seconds later.

The Arsenal players looked fatigued after their Champions League efforts against Monaco, asthey struggled to maintain the ball and stem the pressure from the home side..

Cabella was denied by Ospina with 16 minutes remaining, the keeper saving the strikers left-footed shot.

Substitute Jonas Gutierrez made a surge into the penalty area, but his cross eluded the Newcastle attackers.

At the other end Krul had to block a Welbeck effort at his near post as the game opened up, as both sides tired.

Referee Mike Jones waved away strong appeals for an 82nd-minute penalty after Cabella went down under Laurent Koscielny’s challenge, and Ospina had to make a fine reaction save to keep out Perez’s deflected 87th-minute shot with his leg as the Magpies battled all the way to the whistle.

The Gunners though held on to claim another three points. As with the recent away wins at QPR and Crystal Palace the Gunners had to withstand a second half comeback from the home side to hold on for the win.

Arsenal: Ospina 7, Chambers 6, Gabriel 7, Koscielny 7, Monreal 6, Coquelin 7, Ramsey 6, Cazorla 7 (Flamini), Alexis 7 (Rosicky), Welbeck 7, Giroud 8