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Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City: Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud fire Gunners to victory

Published 21/12/2015

Arsenal's French striker Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 21, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS
Arsenal's French striker Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 21, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS
Arsenal's Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey (L) vies with Manchester City's Spanish midfielder David Silva, leading to a foul awarded against Ramsey, during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 21, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS
Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey takes a shot on goal during the Barclays Premier League match at The Emirates Stadium, London.
Raheem Sterling of Manchester City reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on December 21, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Manchester City's Argentinian defender Nicolas Otamendi (L) vies with Arsenal's French striker Olivier Giroud during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 21, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IKIMAGES
Manchester City's Argentinian defender Nicolas Otamendi (L) vies with Arsenal's French striker Olivier Giroud during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 21, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IKIMAGES
Arsenal's French midfielder Mathieu Flamini (L) vies with Manchester City's Spanish midfielder David Silva during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 21, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IKIMAGES
English referee Andre Marriner (R) reacts as he talks with Manchester City's Ivorian midfielder and captain Yaya Toure following his challenge on Arsenal's French striker Olivier Giroud (not pictiured), during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 21, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: Theo Walcott of Arsenal celebrates scoring his team's first goal with team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on December 21, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: Olivier Giroud of Arsenal scores his side's second goal past Joe Hart of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on December 21, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on December 21, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Arsenal's English midfielder Theo Walcott (C) celebrates with Arsenal's Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey (R) after scoring his team's first goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 21, 2015. AFP/Getty Images
Arsenal's English midfielder Theo Walcott (R) celebrates scoring his team's first goal with Arsenal's Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey (L) during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 21, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IKIMAGES RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.IKIMAGES/AFP/Getty Images
Arsenal's French defender Laurent Koscielny (L) and Arsenal's Spanish defender Nacho Monreal head the same ball during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 21, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
Arsenal scarves for sale during the Barclays Premier League match at The Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday December 21, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
A fan wears a Santa outfit in the stands during the Barclays Premier League match at The Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday December 21, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Olivier Giroud of Arsenal is tackled by Nicolas Otamendi of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on December 21, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Arsenal's English midfielder Theo Walcott warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 21, 2015. IKIMAGES/AFP/Getty Images
Sergio Aguero of Manchester City is closed down by Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on December 21, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
A view of the Dennis Bergkamp statue outside the ground prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on December 21, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Fans walk outside the ground prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on December 21, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Fans walk outside the ground prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on December 21, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Arsenal sealed their supporting role behind Leicester in the Barclays Premier League Christmas billing by beating fellow title hopefuls Manchester City 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night.

Arsene Wenger's side soaked up some early City pressure before Theo Walcott curled home just after the half-hour mark for his first league goal since he scored in the 5-2 win over the Foxes in September.

The Gunners even have their own answer to Leicester hot-shot Jamie Vardy as Olivier Giroud made it 12 goals in 14 games, doubling Arsenal's advantage on the stroke of half-time with Yaya Toure's late consolation not enough to prevent the hosts winning.

The victory leaves Arsenal two points behind leaders Leicester, while Manuel Pellegrini's City remain six points adrift as their indifferent form away from home continues.

Arsenal's 2-0 victory at City in January was a result Wenger said gave him and his players belief they could beat the big teams and challenge for the title.

And much of this performance was similar to that at the Etihad Stadium, and the recent Champions League victory over Bayern Munich here, as Wenger's side put in a professional and measured display rather than adopting a risky approach of all-out attack.

The momentum before the game appeared to be with the visitors who welcomed Sergio Aguero back into their side after a heel injury, while Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez had failed in his own attempt to be fit for the clash.

And the hosts started slowly with City's Kevin De Bruyne getting in the first meaningful shot of the game as he drew a save out of former Chelsea team-mate Petr Cech at the midway point of a first half.

It was then De Bruyne who was guilty of passing up the best chance of the half as Arsenal over-committed and were caught out on the counter-attack.

The winger broke down the right before cutting inside and arrowing a shot wide instead of passing inside to an onrushing David Silva.

Moments later a simple ball into Mesut Ozil allowed him to play in Walcott, who carried the ball back out of the penalty area before arching a superb finish past the despairing dive of his England team-mate Joe Hart.

And things got even better for Wenger's men on the stroke of half-time as Eliaquim Mangala gifted possession to the Gunners and Ozil again produced the assist, sliding in a pass for Giroud to finish between Hart's legs.

Pellegrini introduced Raheem Sterling at the break, but it was Joel Campbell who should have added a third soon after the restart - however, he could only sweep Nacho Monreal's cross over Hart's crossbar.

Aguero then made way for Wilfried Bony having lasted a little over an hour on his latest comeback from injury and Toure gave City a lifeline as he guided a measured left-foot finish past Cech with eight minutes remaining.

Bony then saw a shot deflected behind as Arsenal began to drop back further towards their own goal - inviting further efforts from Ivory Coast pair Bony and Toure towards the death.

But Arsenal hung on to take another vital three points and remain on the coat-tails of surprise leaders Leicester heading into the festive fixtures.

Talking points ahead of game

Arsenal host Manchester City on Monday in an eagerly-anticipated Barclays Premier League clash that could shed further light on each side's title credentials. We look at some talking points ahead of the game.

How much of a bearing will this have on the title race?

These two sides may be the Premier League favourites with the bookies but this can hardly be described as a title decider. The form of current leaders Leicester and the close proximity of a handful of other teams has seen to that. But their squads do look the best equipped for the long haul and the game is a chance for either side to steal a march on the other and perhaps land a psychological blow.

Will the good or bad Arsenal/City teams turn up?

It is difficult to say because both sides have played some excellent football this season but lacked the consistency to really take charge of a title race they have the capability to command. City are particularly culpable in this regard, but it is also true that both clubs have had to deal with lengthy injury lists. Recent form and home advantage suggest Arsenal could have the upper hand - but it could be very different if City are on song.

What are the chances of Alexis Sanchez and Sergio Aguero playing?

Arsenal are hopeful Chile forward Sanchez, after three games out with a hamstring problem, will be fit after returning to training this week. City tend to be cautious over star striker Aguero, who has had numerous injury issues during his time at the club and has sat out the past five games with a heel problem. But the Argentinian has also been back training for a week and manager Manuel Pellegrini's latest update was positive.

Can City keep a clean sheet without Vincent Kompany?

The statistics suggest not. In eight Premier League games with the influential Belgian at the heart of their defence this season City have kept seven clean sheets. They have not managed one in any of the eight he has missed. With the City skipper still out with a calf problem, the chances of Arsenal scoring seem high.

Will City be affected by continuing Pep Guardiola speculation?

Pellegrini has had to put up with rumours linking Guardiola with his job throughout his tenure and he claims it does not bother him. Things seem to have been ramped up, however, as an announcement over Guardiola's future at Bayern Munich has drawn nearer. If Guardiola is to be available from the end of the season, speculation will not go away until his next destination is known. That could have the potential to undermine Pellegrini's work.

 

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