EPL : Arsenal beat Man City to close gap on leaders
Arsenal came out on top in the battle of the Barclays Premier League title favourites as goals from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud beat Manchester City 2-1 at Emirates Stadium.
Leicester City will top the table at Christmas but Monday’s clash could be pivotal in the title race as second-placed Arsenal moved four points clear of third-placed City.
Walcott’s stunning effort – Arsenal’s first shot on target – lit up a cagey first period and Giroud neatly converted their second on the stroke of half-time to give the hosts a comfortable cushion.
Sergio Aguero could not find a breakthrough on his return to lead the City attack, lasting 63 minutes on his first outing in five fixtures.
Yaya Toure reduced the arrears with 10 minutes to go with an astonishing strike but City’s late charge fell flat and they have now not won any of their last five away fixtures in the league.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side host Sunderland on Boxing Day before taking on Leicester two days later.
City ought to have taken the lead in the opening period and will likely look back at two Kevin De Bruyne chances as the contest slipped from their grasp.
De Bruyne saw two chances go begging as City routinely threatened on the counter attack. Petr Cech got down to his left to deny the Belgium international, who shortly afterwards fired wide from an angle, ignoring the unmarked Silva in the middle.
Arsenal immediately made the visitors pay for De Bruyne’s misses, with Walcott opening the scoring in sublime fashion. Mesut Ozil fed the winger near the left-hand corner of the penalty box and the England man cut onto his right foot before beating Joe Hart with a curled strike into the far corner.
Wenger’s men doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time after Eliaquim Mangala lost possession inside his own half and Ozil punished slack marking to send Giroud into the penalty area with his 15th BPL assist of the season, the Frenchman evading Nicolas Otamendi’s tackle before finding the net with a powerful finish through Hart’s legs.
Again impressive on the right flank in the absence of Alexis Sanchez, Joel Campbell should have made it three shortly after the break as he burst into the penalty area but Hart kept City’s hopes alive, sticking his right leg out to thwart the Costa Rica winger.
The Manchester City goalkeeper was again called into action at the hour mark after a slick Arsenal move involving Ozil, Campbell and Aaron Ramsey and did a fine job to deny the latter from close range.
Toure fired City back in it with a superb finish into the top corner, which Cech could only watch drift into the top-left corner, but the visitors’ attempts to salvage a draw fizzled out.
Source : Premier League