Five things we learned about Arsenal Sunday

Arsenal retained their lead at the top of the Premier League table with a narrow 1-0 win away at Newcastle United.

It wasn’t the most polished of performances by the Gunners at St James’ Park, but Arsene Wenger’s charges did what was required to run out winners.

The triumph on Tyneside means the north London outfit have secured two straight victories, after having gone three on the bounce without victory. In short, the doubters are being silenced.

Detailed below are five things we learned about Arsenal today:

Finally Giroud

Olivier Giroud hadn’t netted since hitting a double against Southampton on November 23 – a stretch of seven games in all competitions. His glancing header proved the winner against the Toon, and Wenger will be hoping the Frenchman will be back on song heading into the New Year.

Winning ugly

Patrick Viera questioned Arsenal’s title credentials earlier in the campaign on the basis that the side ‘couldn’t win ugly’. Sunday’s performance wasn’t exactly dazzling, but the Gunners found a way through and were able to grind it out in defence. It’s this type of win that Arsenal will need on off days if they are to end up Premier League Champions come May.

Coping without Ozil

Sooner or later Arsenal were bound to lose record signing Ozil, but Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky proved that they are capable of covering for the German, although both lack that extra bit of star quality. Still, this success against a quality Newcastle side without the playmaker is a great place to start.

Wilshere competent further back

Jack Wilshere has spent the majority of his minutes as part of the Arsenal attacking midfield trio this season, but did well in a double pivot with Mathieu Flamini on Sunday. Theo Walcott’s return to fitness necessitated the move for the young Englishman, and Wenger may be inclined to keep Wiltshire there permanently. Four tackles, four dribbles won and the most touches of any Arsenal player were all encouraging signs for Wilshere in a more recessed role.

Away form a strength

The heavy Manchester City defeat and that setback at Old Trafford were disappointments, but the Gunners remain good value on the road. Victory at Newcastle has seen Arsenal take a league-leading seventh win away from the Emirates. And, of course, it’s well-documented that good away form can Champions make.

images: © wonker, © Ronnie Macdonald

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