Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal moved two points clear at the top of the Premier League, with the Premier League leaders sinking Newcastle United 1-0.
The unconvincing Gunners looked set for a point on a soggy Emirates Stadium pitch until defender Laurent Koscielny stabbed home a flick-on from France team-mate Olivier Giroud in the 72nd minute to give the home side the advantage.
The resilient Magpies should have come away with at least a point, having been on the front foot for much of the second half, but Arsenal shot-stopper, Petr Cech rescued the Gunner’s on several occasions.
Speaking after the game,Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger said: “We were not at our best, but we had to dig deep and we can do that when needed.
“It was about solidarity, tired legs and taking a chance from a set-piece.
“Over Christmas, in four games we took nine points, so we can look back and say we did 75 percent of our job as we lost at Southampton.”
Meanwhile, there was celebration at last for Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal as his team ended a dismal six-game league streak without a win by defeating Swansea City 2-1 as Leicester City’s surprise push faltered with a goalless draw at home to 10-man Bournemouth.
Manchester City underlined their credentials as Arsenal’s main challengers and although they looked forlorn for much of the game at Vicarage Road, they showed their mettle in the closing stages.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men came from behind, scoring two late goals in quick succession to wrap up a precious win that kept them three points behind the pacesetters.
Elsewhere, Liverpool were beaten 2-0 by West Ham United, Norwich beat Southampton 1-0, West Brom defeated Stoke 2-1, while bottom of the table clash between Sunderland and Aston Villa ended 3-1 in favour of Sunderland.