Olivier Giroud's header earned a scrappy win over Newcastle as Arsenal overtook Manchester City to regain top spot in the Premier League.

The Gunners created several chances early on but Newcastle almost went ahead in first-half stoppage time when Moussa Sissoko's shot was saved and Mathieu Debuchy headed against the bar.

As the game became disjointed, Giroud nodded in Theo Walcott's free-kick.

Our form has surprised many - Wenger

Walcott had a lob cleared off the line before Arsenal withstood late pressure.

The hosts sent goalkeeper Tim Krul forward in search of a late equaliser, with Hatem Ben Arfa firing wide from a great position.

Yet the Gunners will now be top of the league on New Year's Day for the first time since the 2007-08 season with a point advantage over Manchester City.

That season, their title challenge faded away, but after a run of three games without a win, Arsenal have now earned consecutive victories after a 3-1 triumph win at West Ham on Boxing Day.

After a tough festive period, Arsene Wenger's team have favourable league games to come against Cardiff, Aston Villa, Fulham and Southampton, sandwiched around a tantalising FA Cup tie against north London rivals, Tottenham.

Striker Giroud underlined his importance, ending a seven-game run without a goal, although the Gunners were also fortunate when Wojciech Szczesny's clearance smacked into Loic Remy's head and trickled wide.

Points aplenty for the Gunners

Arsenal have earned the most points in the Premier League in 2013, chalking up 82

Exactly a year ago, Arsenal crushed Newcastle 7-3 at Emirates Stadium, but this was a cagier contest, with both sides looking short of their best.

The visitors carved out several promising opportunities in the first half but, when they did have space to shoot, they either missed the target or failed to test Krul.

Jack Wilshere, who returned after a two-game ban, was wasteful. So too were Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Per Mertesacker, with Arsenal missing the injured Mesut Ozil.

After sustaining early pressure, Newcastle grew into an absorbing first half as Yohan Cabaye, an Arsenal transfer target last summer, dropped deep to collect the ball.

And it was Alan Pardew's side who came closest to taking the lead before the break when, in injury time, Sissoko drew a fine save from Szczesny, before Debuchy hit the woodwork from the following corner.

Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal: Alan Pardew says players deserved more

The game became disjointed in the second period but Arsenal took the lead when Cheick Tiote, returning from suspension, fouled Cazorla 30 yards out. Walcott chipped the free-kick into the area, where Giroud nodded his 11th goal of the season.

Arsenal almost doubled the lead when Wilshere found Walcott in space but Krul saved his low effort, before Debuchy headed the rebound off the line.

With Kieran Gibbs being replaced by Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini moving to left-back, Newcastle began to put pressure on the visitors with Flamini fortunate to survive a penalty appeal after hauling down Debuchy.

But, despite the late scare for Szczesny and wastefulness from substitute Ben Arfa, the Gunners defended stoutly to hang on.

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Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (6)

Newcastle United

  • 01 Krul
  • 26 Debuchy
  • 03 Santon
  • 24 Tioté
  • 06 Williamson
  • 02 Coloccini
  • 07 Sissoko (Haidara - 79' )
  • 08 Anita (Sh Ameobi - 74' )
  • 14 Remy
  • 04 Cabaye
  • 11 Gouffran (Ben Arfa - 62' )

Substitutes

  • 09 Cissé
  • 10 Ben Arfa
  • 13 Yanga-Mbiwa
  • 19 Haidara
  • 21 Elliot
  • 23 Sh Ameobi
  • 28 Sa Ameobi

Arsenal

  • 01 Szczesny
  • 03 Sagna
  • 28 Gibbs (Arteta - 70' )
  • 10 Wilshere
  • 04 Mertesacker
  • 06 Koscielny
  • 14 Walcott (Jenkinson - 80' )
  • 20 Flamini Booked
  • 12 Giroud Booked (Bendtner - 86' )
  • 07 Rosicky Booked
  • 19 Cazorla

Substitutes

  • 08 Arteta
  • 09 Podolski
  • 21 Fabianski
  • 23 Bendtner
  • 25 Jenkinson
  • 31 Miyaichi
  • 44 Gnabry
Ref: Lee Probert
Att: 52,161

Match Stats

Shots

11 11

On target

3 5

Corners

4 1

Fouls

10 8

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Newcastle United 0, Arsenal 1.

90:00 +4:06 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Newcastle United 0, Arsenal 1.

90:00 +3:32

Attempt missed. Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle United) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left following a corner.

90:00 +3:10

Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Carl Jenkinson.

90:00 +0:46

Attempt missed. Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle United) left footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Cheick Tioté.

89:43

Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Per Mertesacker.

88:08

Foul by Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal).

88:08

Cheick Tioté (Newcastle United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

85:28 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Nicklas Bendtner replaces Olivier Giroud.

83:38

Attempt saved. Shola Ameobi (Newcastle United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

79:22 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Carl Jenkinson replaces Theo Walcott.

78:45 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Newcastle United. Massadio Haidara replaces Moussa Sissoko.

77:22

Bacary Sagna (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

77:22

Foul by Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United).

75:50 Booking

Booking Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

75:43

Foul by Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal).

75:43

Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

74:42

Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

74:42

Foul by Shola Ameobi (Newcastle United).

74:02 Booking

Booking Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

73:57

Foul by Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal).

73:57

Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

73:10 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Newcastle United. Shola Ameobi replaces Vurnon Anita.

71:03

Theo Walcott (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

71:03

Foul by Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United).

69:30 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Mikel Arteta replaces Kieran Gibbs because of an injury.

68:52

Foul by Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal).

68:52

Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

68:26

Attempt missed. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box misses to the left.

68:23

Attempt blocked. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

68:22

Attempt saved. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jack Wilshere with a through ball.

66:14

Attempt missed. Davide Santon (Newcastle United) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right following a corner.

65:35

Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Kieran Gibbs.

64:11 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Newcastle United 0, Arsenal 1. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Theo Walcott following a set piece situation.

63:23

Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

63:23

Foul by Cheick Tioté (Newcastle United).

62:26

Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

62:26

Foul by Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle United).

61:30 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Newcastle United. Hatem Ben Arfa replaces Yoan Gouffran.

60:49

Offside, Arsenal. Kieran Gibbs tries a through ball, but Theo Walcott is caught offside.

57:13

Offside, Newcastle United. Mathieu Debuchy tries a through ball, but Loïc Remy is caught offside.

56:15

Attempt missed. Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Tomas Rosicky.

54:13

Foul by Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

54:13

Vurnon Anita (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

53:38

Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

53:38

Foul by Yoan Gouffran (Newcastle United).

51:06

Attempt blocked. Davide Santon (Newcastle United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Yohan Cabaye.

45:00

Second Half begins Newcastle United 0, Arsenal 0.

45:00 +2:00 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Newcastle United 0, Arsenal 0.

45:00 +1:54

Attempt blocked. Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United) header from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Yohan Cabaye with a cross.

45:00 +1:21

Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Wojciech Szczesny.

45:00 +1:14

Attempt saved. Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.

45:00 +1:11

Attempt blocked. Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Vurnon Anita.

41:35

Attempt missed. Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left following a set piece situation.

40:40

Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

40:40

Foul by Cheick Tioté (Newcastle United).

35:44

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

35:19 Booking

Booking Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

33:50

Delay in match Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) because of an injury.

33:29

Foul by Olivier Giroud (Arsenal).

33:29

Cheick Tioté (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

32:49

Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

32:49

Foul by Loïc Remy (Newcastle United).

32:04

Attempt missed. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jack Wilshere.

29:56

Attempt saved. Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Tomas Rosicky.

25:58

Attempt saved. Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jack Wilshere.

24:08

Attempt missed. Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Yohan Cabaye following a set piece situation.

23:11

Foul by Per Mertesacker (Arsenal).

23:11

Loïc Remy (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

22:08

Attempt missed. Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Santiago Cazorla.

20:49

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Davide Santon.

19:31

Attempt missed. Vurnon Anita (Newcastle United) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right following a set piece situation.

18:59

Yoan Gouffran (Newcastle United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

18:59

Foul by Bacary Sagna (Arsenal).

14:38

Attempt missed. Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Mathieu Debuchy.

8:31

Attempt blocked. Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

2:53

Foul by Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United).

2:53

Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

1:58

Foul by Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United).

1:58

Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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