Stalemate at St James’ Park as Gunners lose ground on Manchester City.
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Olivier Giroud ensured Arsenal will finish 2013 on top of the Premier League as his second half goal clinched a 1-0 win against Newcastle United.
Arsene Wenger’s side had surrendered first place after Manchester City’s win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, but just 24 hours later the Gunners reclaimed pole position with a hard-fought victory at St James’ Park.
Giroud’s first goal since November 23 was enough to give Arsenal their second successive win and move them one point ahead of second placed City heading into the new year.
Arsenal, who were without German playmaker Mesut Ozil, were under pressure early on and Wojciech Szczesny had to tip over Moussa Sissoko’s effort, while Mathieu Debuchy’s header hit the crossbar from the resulting corner.
But France forward Giroud bagged his 11th goal of the season with a glancing header from Theo Walcott’s free-kick in the 65th minute.
Wenger’s team then survived a late barrage of Newcastle pressure, with Loic Remy coming closest to an equaliser when Szczesny’s clearance cannoned into his head and rebounded just wide.