Match ends, Arsenal 1, Newcastle United 0.
Arsenal moved two points clear of Leicester at the top of the Premier League table with a win over Newcastle.
The unconvincing Gunners looked set for a point on a soggy Emirates Stadium pitch until defender Laurent Koscielny came to the rescue with a close-range poked winner in the 72nd minute.
The Magpies should have come away with at least a point, having been on the front foot for much of the second half.
Georginio Wijnaldum went closest but his shot was saved by Petr Cech.
One-nil to the Arsenal... just
It was not pretty, nor was it particularly effective but it was a win that kept the belief going among Arsenal fans that this might be their season.
The Gunners did not deserve the three points, and few would have begrudged the Magpies victory, but the goal encapsulated why Arsenal are top and why the visitors are struggling.
Newcastle striker Ayoze Perez covered a lot of ground, helping out his team-mates in midfield to quell the danger posed by the likes of Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
However, the young Spaniard switched off in the 72nd minute, allowing Koscielny to stick out a foot and convert an Olivier Giroud header.
The stats don't lie
Few would have expected this possession stat: Arsenal 51% - Newcastle 49%.
The Magpies midfield dominated their counterparts for periods of the match.
The wingers did not look up for the battle, with Oxlade-Chamberlain only winning 33.3% of his duels, while Theo Walcott won 36.4% of his - the two lowest figures in the Arsenal side.
Newcastle can take heart from their display. Jack Colback and Wijnaldum were particularly outstanding in the middle of the park, winning more than 70% of their battles.
Newcastle need to hit the January sales
Defence? Fine. Midfield? Excellent. Strikers? Hmm...
The Magpies looked a threat in attack in their past three outings, but Steve McClaren's forwards have been misfiring terribly. From their 32 efforts on goal, they have only managed to find the target once. Newcastle have only scored 19 times this season - the third-lowest total in the league.
Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who cost £13m in the summer, was supposed to arrest the problem of last season, but has yet to settle. Perez has been in and out of the side, while Papiss Cisse is inconsistent and often injured - as was the case on Saturday.
Does Magpies' owner Mike Ashley, who spent north of £60m in the summer, have any money left in the kitty?
Man of the match - Daryl Janmaat (Newcastle)
What the managers said
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "We were not at our best but we had to dig deep and we can do that when needed.
"If you are down there then those are the matches you lose but they will not stay down there - they are a good team.
"It was about solidarity, tired legs and taking a chance from a set piece. We were not at our best today, but over Christmas in four games we took nine points so we can look back and say we did 75% of our job as we lost at Southampton."
Asked if his side would be signing anyone in the transfer window, Wenger replied: "Imminent, no, but we will look."
Newcastle manager Steve McClaren: "The players can't believe it, we controlled and dominated the game after the first 10 minutes.
"We asked for a performance and the players gave it, but we conceded one soft goal and lost the game. You can't fault the performance, we just have to be more ruthless at both ends.
"We caused them so many problems and controlled them at the back and we're bewildered how we have not got anything."
The stats you need to know
- Arsenal have won nine successive Premier League games against Newcastle
- The Magpies have scored just six goals in their last 16 Premier League away trips
- Koscielny has scored three goals against Newcastle, more than he has any other Premier League opponent
- Wenger has won 11 of his 12 Premier League meetings with Steve McClaren, losing the other
- The Gunners are unbeaten in nine Premier League home games, winning seven and drawing two
Arsenal host Sunderland at home in the FA Cup next week before a trip to Liverpool. The Magpies are at Watford in the cup next Saturday and then return to league action at home to Manchester United.
- 20FlaminiBooked at 82mins
- 15Oxlade-ChamberlainSubstituted forCampbellat 68'minutes
- 11ÖzilBooked at 90mins
- 14WalcottSubstituted forGibbsat 81'minutes
- 12GiroudSubstituted forChambersat 89'minutes
- 54Reine Adelaide
- 22JanmaatBooked at 68mins
- 24TiotéSubstituted forde Jongat 87'minutes
- 4ColbackBooked at 35minsSubstituted forThauvinat 79'minutes
- 10de Jong
- Anthony Taylor
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Arsenal 1, Newcastle United 0.
Attempt saved. Siem de Jong (Newcastle United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Florian Thauvin with a cross.
Hand ball by Chancel Mbemba (Newcastle United).
Mesut Özil (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.
Offside, Arsenal. Calum Chambers tries a through ball, but Mesut Özil is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Mesut Özil (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Aaron Ramsey.
Attempt missed. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Mesut Özil.
Substitution, Arsenal. Calum Chambers replaces Olivier Giroud.
Attempt saved. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Joel Campbell.
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Siem de Jong (Newcastle United).
Substitution, Newcastle United. Siem de Jong replaces Cheick Tioté.
Attempt missed. Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle United) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Daryl Janmaat with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Laurent Koscielny.
Foul by Nacho Monreal (Arsenal).
Florian Thauvin (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal).
Ayoze Pérez (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.