Arsenal came through a real test of their title mettle by claiming a 1-0 win at Newcastle United.The Magpies came into the game on the crest of a wave, having won seven of their last nine games, but a second-half goal from Olivier Giroud was enough to claim the three points for Arsene Wenger’s men.The first notable chance was carved out by Newcastle thanks to a raking ball from Yohan Cabaye, but Mathieu Debuchy did not do justice to the pass, as his first touch was awful and the ball ran away from him.
Arsenal found openings tough to fashion in the first half, with the Gunners restricted to long-range shots from the likes of Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla which were no real threat to Tim Krul.
Openings kept falling to Newcastle defender Debuchy. He got round the back from a free-kick midway through the opening half, but he sliced his shot wide of target.
Arsenal had Wojciech Szczesny to thank for keeping them on level terms before halftime, as the keeper was forced to dive high to his right to tip away a stinging drive from Moussa Sissoko.
From the resulting corner, another chance fell to Debuchy, who sent a looping header against the crossbar, and Mike Williamson was unable to turn the loose ball home.
Giroud was kept quiet by Williamson and Fabricio Coliccini in the opening half, while he picked up a booking for a foul. However, he found the goal he and Arsenal craved on 65 minutes.
The Frenchman got in between the two defenders on 65 minutes to meet a delightful chipped free-kick from Theo Walcott and glanced the ball beyond Krul.
Arsenal had a chance to put the game to bed 20 minutes from time, but Debuchy did superbly to get back and nod Walcott’s chip off the line.
There was a moment of alarm for Arsenal 10 minutes from time as a clearance from Szczesny smashed Remy in the face but dribbled a yard wide of the open goal.
Arsenal will welcome in 2014 as Premier League leaders, and there is growing confidence that this could be the Gunners’ year.