EPL 2015: Arsenal vs. Newcastle.

Laurent Koscielny’s goal makes it 1-0 for Arsenal against Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium. | Photo by Catherine Ivill – AMA/Getty Images.

It took a defender to give Arsenal a win in last night’s match against Newcastle United. It took just one goal for all three points and move the club two points clear of Leicester City at the top of the Premier League table. It took a foreign player by the name of Laurent Koscielny of France to secure the victory who, according to pundits, behaved more like a striker than a defender.

It was a hard-fought victory, and a fair one too. At least there were no fist-fights, handballs, red cards and tantrum-filled tackles.

The match was quite unconvincing from the start, with heavy rain soaking the field at the Emirates Stadium and players slipping and sliding due to the damp condition of the grass. But that didn’t stop the Magpies from attacking, and it certainly didn’t stop Koscielny from nicking all three points by rescuing the Gunners with a close-range, toe-poked winner in the 72nd minute. Newcastle fought just as hard for a goal or an equaliser, and to be fair, they deserved to share the points for their efforts.

Newcastle had a lot going on for them, with Georginio Wijnaldum going the closest but his shot was saved by Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech, and Ayoze Perez covered a lot of ground by absorbing the danger posed by Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. I have to admit, though, Arsenal didn’t really deserve the three points seeing how sloppy their performance was. Newcastle should have won instead. But the goal reiterated the reason why Arsenal are in first place and why the visitors were struggling. Having broken the Premier League clean-sheet record against Bournemouth, Cech was determined to keep another clean sheet by denying Wijnaldum, Jack Colback and Aleksandar Mitrovic in quick succession. That the Czech Republic goalkeeper moved from Stamford Bridge to the Emirates Stadium was the best transfer ever.

Arsenal hit back after half time, with Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey testing Newcastle’s goalkeeper Rob Elliot from close range. That was enough to put the Gunners back into the game. Newcastle defended diligently throughout the match but it wasn’t enough when they failed to clear a Mesut Ozil corner, which Koscielny capitalised after the ball bounced off Giroud’s head. The French defender slotted the ball home to secure Arsenal’s first win of 2016, and also their 100th Premier League clean sheet under Arsene Wenger.

It should have been an easy win for Arsenal seeing as they still have decent players even without the likes of Sanchez and Cazorla. If the Gunners continue to put out results like these, they could be looking at more silverware in 2016.

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