Arsenal sealed the second spot at the top of the Premier League table ahead of Christmas by beating fellow title hopefuls Manchester City 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium.
The victory leaves Arsenal two points behind leaders Leicester City, while Manuel Pellegrini’s side remain six points adrift as their indifferent form away from home continues. This was their fifth defeat of the opening 17 games of this year’s campaign, winning 10 encounters and leveling the other two.
The home side soaked up some early pressure before Theo Walcott curled home just after the half hour mark to boost Arsenal’s title hopes. The English forward celebrated his first league goal since he scored in the 5-2 win over the Foxes in September.
The Gunners doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time after Mangla lost possession inside his own half and Mesut Ozil fed Oliver Giroud in the penalty area. The Frenchman Giroud evaded Nicolas Otamendi’s tackle before finding the net with a powerful strike through Joe Hart’s legs.
The 29-year-old France international striker Giroud has netted 12 goals in 14 games while his teammate Ozil set up both the goals for the hosts. The German winger Ozil has been a key in the recent wins for the Gunners as he made his 15th English Premier League assist of the season.
Yaya Toure reduced the deficit with 10 minutes to go with a stunning strike into the top corner. However, the Citizens’ late charge fell flat and they have not won any of their last five away fixtures in the tournament. The travelling side pushed for an equalizer in the dying moments of the match but Arsenal held on to claim a vital victory in the league title race.
Wenger’s men came into the contest without the services of the Chilean international Alexis Sanchez, who failed to be fit for the intense clash. On the contrary, Manuel Pelegrini welcomed Sergio Aguero back into the side after a heel injury but the Argentine failed to find a breakthrough on his first outing in five fixtures.
Manchester City will host Sunderland on Boxing Day before taking on league-leaders Leicester two days later. IMAGE/Tom Jenkins