Arsenal hold on to beat Manchester City and close in on league leaders Leicester

Arsenal players celebrate after Olivier Giroud makes it 2-0 against Manchester City

Arsenal players celebrate after Olivier Giroud makes it 2-0 against Manchester City - Credit: Archant

Arsenal 2 Manchester City 1

Arsenal kept up the pressure on league leaders Leicester as they held off fellow contenders Manchester City to triumph at Emirates Stadium.

Theo Walcott’s crackerjack put the Gunners in front and Olivier Giroud netted his sixth goal in four games before Yaya Toure reduced the deficit to set up a tense finish.

But Arsenal held on to create a four-point cushion over their third-placed opponents, as well as moving to within two points of Leicester heading into Christmas.

City looked the better side during the first half-hour, stifling their hosts and keeping possession effectively but failing to convert it into anything tangible.

David Silva and Fernandinho were off target with ambitious attempts, but City’s best chances fell to the dangerous Kevin de Bruyne, who managed to give Nacho Monreal the slip on more than one occasion.

The German midfielder forced Petr Cech to tip one low drive around the post and then dragged a better opportunity wide while Sergio Aguero awaited the cross.

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And yet it was the Gunners who made the breakthrough 12 minutes from the interval, with Mesut Ozil feeding Walcott, who cut inside his marker and unleashed a scorcher that zipped beyond the stunned Joe Hart.

Incredibly, Arsenal then doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time as Fernandinho gave the ball away to Walcott and Ozil then played Giroud in to fire through the legs of Hart and into the bottom corner.

City sent on Raheem Sterling for the second half in a bid to retrieve the two-goal deficit but they were unable to make much headway, although Aguero tested Cech with a glancing header.

By contrast, Arsenal appeared to be on the cusp of increasing their lead, with Joel Campbell going close on two occasions and Hart foiling Aaron Ramsey at close range.

Another opportunity presented itself to Ramsey when Giroud’s cross picked him out in space, but the Wales midfielder was unable to line up a clear shooting position.

At the other end, Cech was called into action – but never given cause for concern – as he gathered a Sterling shot at his near post and rose to catch a header from substitute Wilfried Bony.

That all changed with eight minutes remaining as ex-Gunners defender Bacary Sagna played the ball inside for Toure, who stroked a first-time finish into the top corner.

Suddenly Arsenal found themselves under renewed pressure as Bony and Toure bundled further opportunities wide – but they held out to seal what could prove to be a crucial three points.

Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Flamini; Campbell (Gibbs 70), Ozil (Oxlade-Chamberlain 77), Walcott (Chambers 88); Giroud.