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Giroud header sinks Magpies and takes Arsenal back to top of the table
Full-time: Newcastle United 0 Arsenal 1
NEWCASTLE crashed to only their second home defeat of the season as Olivier Giroud's second-half header sent Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League table.
The Magpies were the better side for a significant chunk of the game, and Mathieu Debuchy saw a first-half header rebound off the crossbar.
However, the hosts were unable to force their way through a well-drilled Arsenal rearguard, and the visitors claimed a 65th-minute winner when Giroud headed home Theo Walcott's free-kick.
Newcastle made one change to their starting line-up, with Cheik Tiote returning from suspension to replace Hatem Ben Arfa.
Arsenal were without Mezut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey, but Arsene Wenger still named a strong side and the visitors shaded an cagey opening spell.
However, it was Newcastle who created the opening chance, with Yohan Cabaye drilling a 15th-minute shot over the crossbar.
Moussa Sissoko saw a back-post header saved by Wojciech Szczesny shortly over, before Arsenal; created their first opening when Jack Wilshere shot over after a one-two with Santi Cazorla.
Debuchy linked up with Cabaye to shoot wide at the other end, and as the game gradually began to open up, Cazorla and Per Mertesacker both failed to make anything from decent openings on the edge of the area.
Newcastle improved as the first half wore on, and the hosts enjoyed their best two moments of the opening period in stoppage time.
First, Sissoko saw his rising 20-yard drive tipped over the crossbar from Szcezsny after Cabaye's initial attempt had been blocked.
Then, from the resultant corner, Debuchy's back-post header hit the crossbar, with Wilshere preventing the rebound from creeping over the goalline.
With the second half proving every bit as tight and competitive as the first, Alan Pardew introduced Hatem Ben Arfa shortly after the hour mark in an attempt to inject some creativity.
However, four minutes later, and Newcastle were behind. Walcott floated a deep free-kick into the area, and Giroud stole ahead of Williamson to glance home a header from the edge of the six-yard box.
Arsenal almost claimed a second shortly after, but Walcott failed to convert two decent opportunities in the same move. Released through the middle by Wilshere, the England winger saw his first shot saved by Krul, with his follow-up header being cleared off the goalline by Debuchy.
Even then Giroud might have scored with the second rebound, but the French striker shanked his attempted effort well wide.
With Shola Ameobi on the field, Newcastle switched to a 4-4-2 formation in an attempt to secure an equaliser, but their best chance of a goal did not come through their own making.
Remy closed down Szczesny as the Arsenal goalkeeper hurriedly cleared a Mathieu Flamini back-pass, and the ball rebounded off the striker's face before creeping narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
Newcastle (4-2-3-1): Krul; Debuchy, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon; Tiote, Anita (Shola Ameobi 74); Sissoko (Haidara 79), Cabaye, Gouffran (Ben Arfa 61); Remy.
Subs (not used): Elliot (gk), Yanga-Mbiwa, Sammy Ameobi, Cisse.
Arsenal (4-1-4-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs (Arteta 70); Flamini; Walcott (Jenkinson 80), Wilshere, Rosicky, Cazorla; Giroud (Bendtner 85).
Subs (not used): Fabianksi (gk), Miyaichi, Gnabry, Podolski.
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