English Premiership

Koscielny downs Newcastle as Arsenal go clear

2016-01-02 19:57
Laurent Koscielny (Supplied)
Laurent Koscielny (Supplied)

London - Arsenal moved two points clear at the top of the Premier League table after Laurent Koscielny's second half winner secured an unconvincing 1-0 win over Newcastle United on Saturday.

The Frenchman's 72nd-minute winner masked a stuttering display, but if the sign of an effective team is that they win even when below their best, then Arsenal justified their status as favourites to take the title.

Mesut Ozil, featured on the programme cover celebrating his goal in the 2-0 win against Bournemouth in the final match of 2015, did his best to inspire his team-mates again, but Arsenal were flat and uninspired.

However, though lacking their usual fluency and looking vulnerable once again in defence, they rode their luck and dug out a victory while Leicester City, level on points at kick-off, could only draw with Bournemouth.

Newcastle, who had conceded 14 goals in their previous three visits to the Emirates Stadium, had the majority of the chances this time, but found Petr Cech unbeatable. They remain in the relegation zone.

After a minute's applause for former Newcastle goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek, who died on December 29, Arsenal gave Rob Elliot, his successor, an easy first half, their midfield misfiring and their final ball often inaccurate.

A perfect example was a diagonal pass from Theo Walcott towards Olivier Giroud that almost sent the France striker through on goal, but was just too close to Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini, who intercepted.

When Arsenal gave them the ball, the visitors seized any chance to venture forward and after 15 minutes Cech had to dive to his right to parry a header by Georginio Wijnaldum from a right-wing cross by Moussa Sissoko.

Aleksandar Mitrovic returned the loose ball into the centre, but Jack Colback's scooped effort was easily held by Cech.

That made the crowd uneasy, and they were worried again after 25 minutes when Ayoze Perez shot a foot over Cech's crossbar from an angle.

Just before half-time, Cech had to save twice, first from an overhead kick by Mitrovic as Hector Bellerin's attempt at a clearing header dropped short and then after Koscielny miskicked, the goalkeeper rushing out to block from Wijnaldum.

The first-half statistics showed four efforts on target by Newcastle and none from Arsenal and it was five by the Magpies soon after half-time as Cech raced out of his goal again to smother a shot from Wijnaldum.

Moments later, the Czech could only watch as Mitrovic volleyed wide from Perez's flick when scoring looked easier.

Arsenal's first shot on target arrived in the 50th minute, Elliot saving Aaron Ramsey's effort from Ozil's pass.

The Arsenal fans, to their credit, continued to back their team, preferring to take out their frustrations on referee Anthony Taylor for what they regarded as leniency towards time-wasting by Newcastle.

And finally, in the 72nd minute, they had the reward for their patience.

As Ozil's corner curved in from the right, Giroud missed his first attempt at a header, but won the second, and with the ball looping towards goal, Koscielny stole in behind Perez to volley home his third goal of the season.

Nacho Monreal almost doubled the lead with a fierce shot that was blocked by a knot of defenders, while Mitrovic headed onto the roof of the net as Newcastle looked for an equaliser.

Ramsey came closer to giving the score an even more misleading look late on, but after dancing past two defenders, he curled his shot wide with only Elliot to beat.


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

22 October 2016
Arsenal v Middlesbrough, Emirates Stadium 16:00
Leicester City v Crystal Palace, King Power Stadium 16:00
Swansea City v Watford, Liberty Stadium 16:00
West Ham United v Sunderland, Olympic Stadium 16:00
Hull City v Stoke City, The KC Stadium 16:00
Burnley v Everton, Turf Moor 16:00
Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion, Anfield 18:30
23 October 2016
Manchester City v Southampton, Etihad Stadium 14:30
Chelsea v Manchester United, Stamford Bridge 17:00
29 October 2016
Sunderland v Arsenal, Stadium of Light 13:30
Manchester United v Burnley, Old Trafford 16:00
Middlesbrough v Bournemouth, Riverside Stadium 16:00
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City, The Hawthorns 16:00
Watford v Hull City, Vicarage Road 16:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City, White Hart Lane 16:00
Crystal Palace v Liverpool, Selhurst Park 18:30
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Will Jose Mourinho lead Manchester United to the English Premiership title in 2016/17?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.