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Arsenal kept the pressure on second-placed Manchester City with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Newcastle at St James' Park.
Olivier Giroud maintained his exceptional form against the Magpies with two goals before half-time, first nudging in after a flick-on from Santi Cazorla's deep free-kick before converting another from a corner minutes later. The Frenchman's goals were his seventh and eighth against the St James' Park side, in just six games.
But if the first half was all Arsenal, the second was anything but. Arsene Wenger's side were forced to dig in and fight for their three points after seeing their advantage halved by Moussa Sissoko's driven finish within three minutes of the restart.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in the last 9 Premier League games against Newcastle, winning the last 7 in a row (W7 D2).
- Newcastle have won just 4 of their last 40 games in all competitions against Arsenal (W4 D11 L25).
Newcastle were frustrated in their first-half efforts by some resolute Gunners defending, having seen 5 of their 6 shots blocked and the other diverted off target. But after half-time, John Carver's men piled on the pressure to put the frighteners up Wenger's men.
- Giroud has scored 8 and assisted 3 in his last 9 Premier League appearances.
- In fact, Giroud has netted in 5 consecutive Premier League games for the first time.
- The Frenchman has scored with all 5 headers on target attempted against Newcastle in the Premier League.
- Since his debut in August 2012, Santi Cazorla has provided more assists than any other player in the Premier League (27).
- The Gunners have only managed 1 clean sheet in their last 9 Premier League away games.
- The Magpies have picked up just 1 win in their last 6 on home soil (W1 D2 L3).
Fan's eye view
"Moving into a commanding 2-0 lead away from home and letting teams back in is becoming something of a trend. West Ham, Leicester, QPR, Crystal Palace and now Newcastle have all been allowed back into the game at 2-0 by Arsenal since Christmas.
"Yet again we managed to hold onto the points, and yet again Olivier Giroud made the difference. Quietly, Arsenal have become a threat from set-pieces, and after a draining match in Monaco on Tuesday, a pair of them were enough to take maximum points from this game.
"With Mesut Ozil unavailable and Alexis off form, the Gunners needed inspiration from elsewhere. Their newfound ability to score from set-pieces saw then through today, even if the second half was a lot nervier than it ought to have been..."
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