Tag: Olivier Giroud

Champions League: Monaco 0-2 Arsenal (Monaco win on away goals)

Arsenal beat Monaco but crash out of Champions League on away goals

Arsenal won 2-0 in Monaco in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash but couldn’t recover from defeat at the Emirates three weeks ago, going out on away goals after drawing 3-3 on aggregate.

Olivier Giroud put the Gunners in front in the 36th minute but they struggled to create clear-cut openings before Aaron Ramsey doubled their advantage 11 minutes from time.

Arsene Wenger’s side piled on the pressure as the clock ticked down but couldn’t force a third goal which would have taken them through against the odds.

After a slow start, Giroud headed a half-chance wide after 13 minutes. Arsenal were lacking a spark as Monaco, who had not conceded a single goal in their three home Champions League group stage games earlier this season, happily took the tempo out of the match.

Giroud, who had missed several chances in the first leg, grabbed a lifeline for the visitors with a well-taken finish nine minutes before half-time.

Monaco continued to ride their luck as Arsenal pressed, with Mesut Ozil’s free-kick tipped over at the start of the second half.

The game then opened up as Arsenal committed men forwards, and finally reduced the arrears further through substitute Ramsey after 79 minutes.

 

There was, though, to be no miracle of Monte Carlo as Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic denied a late header from Sanchez to end Arsenal’s European dreams at the last-16 stage once again — and leave Arsene Wenger’s men counting the cost of conceding a stoppage-time third goal at the Emirates Stadium.

England forward Danny Welbeck started in support of Sanchez and main striker Giroud, with Theo Walcott again on the bench as manager Wenger named an attacking side on his return to the club he led to the French league championship in 1988.

Despite Arsenal’s positive intentions, they remained vulnerable on the counter-attack, with Joao Moutinho curling an early 20-yard effort over following a quick break by the home side.

Officially only around 1,500 Arsenal fans had made the journey to the French Riviera, but given tickets were put on general sale, there were more than double that around the Stade Louis II.

Arsenal, though, struggled to find any sort of early flow as Monaco slowed the tempo, which suited the game of veteran former Tottenham and Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov.

As the quarter-hour mark approached, Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin got away down the right and whipped the ball into the six-yard box, from which Giroud glanced just wide.

Arsenal centre-half Laurent Koscielny cannoned the ball up against the crossbar from close range after a deep free-kick into the Monaco penalty area, but the offside flag was raised.

Arsenal continued to look for an opening, but were frustrated by some solid defending from the hosts as the game.

The breakthrough finally came after 36 minutes. After left-back Nacho Monreal had done well to keep the ball in on the far side, Danny Welbeck darted into the penalty area.

The loose ball fell for Giroud, and his shot was saved but cannoned up against his face, with the French striker alert to sweep in the rebound.

Arsenal almost grabbed a quickfire second when Welbeck’s fierce, low shot hit Aymen Abdennour on the inside of his leg as the defender was sprawled on the ground.

Sanchez was shown a yellow card by Norwegian referee Svein Oddvar Moen for tumbling in the penalty area as Nabil Dirar touched him on the back.

In first-half stoppage-time, Welbeck’s low cross from the right flicked up off Giroud’s knee and into the grateful arms of goalkeeper Subasic.

The Croatian was in the right place again at the start of the second half to acrobatically tip over a curling 20-yard free-kick from Ozil.

Although Monaco did not need to score, they still carried a threat on the counter as Arsenal pressed a high line.

Wenger made a positive change after 63 minutes as Ramsey replaced holding midfielder Francis Coquelin.

Ozil flashed a low drive wide as Arsenal again created a good opening which lacked a telling finish.

With 20 minutes left and two goals still needed, Welbeck was replaced by Walcott.

Arsenal’s pressure finally told when Ramsey made it 2-0 with 11 minutes left. Monreal darted into the left side of the Monaco penalty area, before cutting the ball back to Walcott, whose low shot came back off the base of the post.

Layvin Kurzawa should have cleared but stabbed the ball to Ramsey, who cracked it into the bottom left corner to set up a grandstand finale.

Subasic clawed Sanchez’s close-range header off the line, but despite pouring forward during five minutes of stoppage-time, Arsenal were again left to reflect on what might have been.

The Monaco bench celebrated wildly as the principality club reached a first Champions League quarter-final since 2003-04.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Arsenal 3-0 West Ham

Arsenal warmed up for their crucial Champions League second-leg tie at Monaco on Tuesday with a 10th successive win over West Ham.

The Gunners dominated the first half before Olivier Giroud smashed in an angled drive just before half-time.

Kevin Nolan and Matt Jarvis came close to scoring for the Hammers.

But late strikes from Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini earned a win which puts Arsenal a point behind second-placed Manchester City.

City’s 1-0 defeat by Burnley came after a convincing performance from Arsene Wenger’s side, who will be aiming to overturn a 3-1 deficit in France next week.

An identical scoreline would see them progress but as unlikely as that might be, the Frenchman will be pleased his side came through the game unscathed and finally found their range after wasting a number of chances.

Until the strikes from Ramsey and Flamini, West Ham looked like they might build up a period of sustained pressure, but the introduction of Santi Cazorla helped earn Arsenal a seventh win in their last eight games.

Conjuring up a number of flowing moves from the start, the Gunners should have gone into the break more than one goal ahead. They only held a slender lead thanks to several saves from West Ham goalkeeper Adrian.

The opportunities arrived as early as the fifth minute when the Gunners had a strong penalty appeal waved away by referee Chris Foy after James Collins bundled over Arsenal forward Theo Walcott.

Walcott, in for injured winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, showed some rustiness when presented with further opportunities in what was only his third Premier League start of the season.

Other Arsenal players, such as Alexis Sanchez and Ramsey, found Adrian an unbreachable force.

The home crowd began to grow frustrated but they went into the break lifted by Giroud’s goal as the French striker finished another neat interchange by crashing his shot in off the far post. It was his sixth goal in seven games.

With Diafro Sakho a lone threat up front, Hammers boss Sam Allardyce screamed at his players to get further forward in the second half.

It seemed to have an effect as West Ham grew in influence and Jarvis went close, but he could not keep his shot down from a corner.

Giroud played his part in the second goal as he set up Ramsey following a throw-in, with Flamini adding the gloss from close-range with his first touch.

Read more at BBC Sport

Premiership: QPR 1-2 Arsenal

Arsenal produced an impressive second-half display to beat QPR in a fourth consecutive Premier League win and consolidate their top-four place.

Olivier Giroud opened the scoring, poking home when on the ground after Kieran Gibbs’s shot was blocked.

Alexis Sanchez beat Robert Green at his near post to double Arsenal’s lead.

QPR faded after a strong first-half performance, although they were given late hope by Charlie Austin’s powerful strike with eight minutes left.

Arsenal remain on course for automatic Champions League qualification, sitting one point clear of fourth-placed Manchester United, and three points ahead of fifth-placed Liverpool.

At the other end of the table, QPR stay three points adrift of safety with games against Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City to come in their remaining 11 matches.

Despite their lowly position, they clearly relished the opportunity to test themselves against Arsene Wenger’s side, and would have been worthy of a half-time lead if Austin had converted one of several attempts on goal.

QPR midfielder Sandro made his first appearance since suffering a medial knee ligament injury in November, and in combination with midfield partner Karl Henry, they gave Arsenal no time on the ball as the home side dominated the first half.

While Arsenal took time to settle, they provided a reminder of their quality when Green kept out Santi Cazorla after a flowing move that saw the Spaniard combine neatly with Giroud.

The Gunners were much the better team after half-time though, and threatened almost immediately, with Mesut Ozil insisting only a foul by Henry had prevented him from converting a Tomas Rosicky cut-back.

Soon after Giroud put Arsenal ahead, they created further chances in quick succession and, having just denied Sanchez, Green was beaten by the Chile forward at his near post from an acute angle.

Contrary to the pattern of the first half, David Ospina was a spectator in the Arsenal goal, and watched on as Green tipped Ozil’s deflected right-foot shot onto the post to keep his side in it.

Austin’s late strike gave QPR hope of a dramatic late equaliser, but the home side failed to build further momentum and Arsenal’s control of possession ensured no further alarms.

Read more at BBC Sport

Premiership: Arsenal 2-0 Everton

Arsenal recovered from their midweek European nightmare to beat Everton 2-0 at Emirates Stadium and move back to third in the Premier League.

Olivier Giroud, who missed several chances as the Gunners slumped to a 3-1 home defeat by Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash on Wednesday, netted a fine volley on 39 minutes to put Arsenal ahead on Sunday.

Substitute Tomas Rosicky then scored a late deflected effort to eventually settle what was at times a nervy encounter.

Everton, impressive winners of their Europa League tie against Young Boys on Thursday night, had plenty of possession, but could not find a way past David Ospina, who made a fine point-blank save from Romelu Lukaku.

Despite their shortcoming in Europe, Arsene Wenger’s men remain in good domestic form, as a third successive league win moved them ahead of Manchester United and are now just four points behind Manchester City following their defeat at Liverpool.

With Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott both left on the bench – along with defender Per Mertesacker as Gabriel Paulista made his first Premier League start – there was not a lot of width about the Arsenal side.

Lukaku, who scored twice on Thursday night, was again the main focal point for the visitors.

In the 17th minute, the Belgian forward capitalised on a hesitation by Gabriel as the Brazilian was caught in two minds whether to head a long ball up field back to the goalkeeper or hack clear.

Colombian Ospina, again preferred to Wojciech Szczesny, showed no such deliberation as he raced out to meet the bouncing ball, palming it away before then making a sliding tackle on Lukaku as he moved wide.

Arsenal continued to probe with some short passes, and eventually created an opening down the left on 28 minutes.

Santi Cazorla, who captained the side, exchanged a one-two with Mesut Ozil before moving the ball out to Alexis Sanchez. The diminutive Chilean clipped the ball through a crowded six-yard box, where Giroud dived in with a brave header to nod the ball just wide as Everton captain Phil Jagielka closed in.

Gabriel, signed from Villarreal in the January transfer window, made a superbly-timed sliding tackle to halt Lukaka as the Everton forward charged into the Arsenal penalty area following another dangerous break.

Arsenal took the lead on 39 minutes.

Ozil whipped in a corner from the right, and Gabriel’s run to the near post opened space for Giroud in the six-yard box. The France striker got ahead of his marker to guide the ball into the far corner.

The Gunners continued to press ahead of half-time, and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard touched over a dipping 20-yard effort from Cazorla.

Everton, who find themselves in the bottom half of the table, made a positive start after the break as Gareth Barry sent a volley over.

Giroud saw his close-range effort cannon off the arm of Jagielka as the Everton skipper made an important block while on the ground before the France striker played a clever one-two with Cazorla at the edge of the Everton box, and the Spaniard sent a rising drive just over.

On 64 minutes, Ospina produced a superb reflex save to turn over Lukaku’s near-post drive at point-blank range.

There was a lengthy stoppage after a clash of heads between Giroud and team-mate Francis Coquelin, leaving the midfielder with blood pouring from his nose.

Ospina showed good reflects again after Seamus Coleman’s low cross from the right was turned goalwards by Aaron Lennon, the former Tottenham winger on as a substitute.

Everton continued to show plenty of industry and were enjoying a spell of possession as the match headed into the closing 10 minutes.

Arsenal almost sealed it on the break, but Jagielka made a goal-saving block as Ozil looked to stab the ball into the far corner after being played in by Giroud.

The Everton captain, though, could then only help a low strike from Rosicky fly past his own keeper as Arsenal eventually made sure of all three points in the final minute, before some seven added on for stoppages.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal

Arsenal moved up to third in the Barclays Premier League with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Crystal Palace.

The Gunners went ahead through an early penalty from Santi Cazorla following a trip by Pape Souare on Danny Welbeck, which the Palace bench protested had been just outside the area.

Referee Mark Clattenburg and his assistant were central to another big call on the stroke of half-time when Welbeck was waved onside and Olivier Giroud netted a second from the rebound after the England forward’s shot had been blocked.

Palace showed plenty of endeavour to try to get back into the match, and grabbed a stoppage-time consolation through substitute Glenn Murray, who then hit the post with a flying header as Arsenal held on to close out victory to climb back above Southampton, who play Liverpool on Sunday, and Manchester United, beaten at Swansea.

The tone for what was a hard-fought contest was set early when Fraizer Campbell was caught on the chest by a high boot from Francis Coquelin, Arsenal’s new midfield enforcer.

However, Clattenburg gave only a free-kick and no card – much to the disbelief of the Palace bench.

The home management team could then not believe it moments later when Arsenal were awarded a penalty.

Souare, making his Premier League debut after signing from Lille, came across to try to block Welbeck, but tripped the Arsenal forward as he darted away down the right.

The initial contact looked right on the edge of the penalty area, and Clattenburg immediately pointed to the spot.

Cazorla made no mistake from the spot as he sent Julian Speroni the wrong way for his seventh goal of the season.

Palace looked to make an instant response, pushing Arsenal back with some direct balls into the danger area.

Coquelin eventually went into the notebook for a late trip on Campbell as the match continued to be played with plenty of positive aggression.

Arsenal doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time.

Alexis Sanchez played a perfectly-weighted pass into the left side of the penalty area for Welbeck, who was adjudged onside as he ran across the Palace backline.

The England forward sent in a low, angled drive, which Speroni palmed out and Giroud was alert to get to the loose ball ahead of three defenders to stab home his 50th Arsenal goal.

Palace looked to make a positive start to the second half, and pushed Arsenal back as Wilfried Zaha caused problems down the right channel, forcing a string of corners before a looping header from Mesut Ozil dropped onto the top of the crossbar.

The German, who has returned from a knee injury a much stronger player, broke away on 57 minutes and fed Sanchez on the overlap down the left.

Arsenal’s leading scorer burst into the box and then stabbed the ball just wide of the far post, when both Welbeck and Giroud were screaming for a pass.

Palace were forced into a change when Campbell limped off with what looked like a hamstring problem and was replaced by Yannick Bolasie.

There was a stoppage when David Ospina went down a few minutes after the goalkeeper had come racing out of his penalty area to jump over Per Mertesacker and head a long ball clear.

After some treatment for what appeared to be a back problem, play continued.

Palace continued to push Arsenal back, as Dwight Gayle sent a bullet header just over before Jason Puncheon’s 20-yard free-kick curled just wide.

With 15 minutes left, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, whose side host Monaco in the Champions League next week, looked to shore up the side as defender Kieran Gibbs came on for Welbeck and Ozil was replaced by Tomas Rosicky.

Palace boss Alan Pardew sent on Murray for Gayle and Shola Ameobi made his debut to replace Joe Ledley.

Murray saw a late close-range header saved on the line by Ospina, who was then beaten in another goalmouth scramble during five minutes of added time.

Palace almost snatched a dramatic equaliser at the death as Ospina flapped at a left-wing cross, which Murray crashed against the base of the post with a flying header.

Read more at ESPN

FA Cup: Arsenal 2-0 Middlesbrough

Olivier Giroud struck twice as FA Cup holders Arsenal beat Middlesbrough at the Emirates Stadium to book their place in the quarter-finals.

The Gunners avoided going the same way as Manchester City had in round four against the Sky Bet Championship promotion-chasers with two first-half goals from the France forward in the space of as many minutes.

Giroud – out for three months earlier in the season with a broken fibula – blasted the ball past Boro keeper Tomas Mejias from close range on 27 minutes and before the visitors could recover, the forward sweetly volleyed home a corner.

Boro, who had been unbeaten in their last 10, worked hard enough, but never really stretched the Arsenal defence and have more important targets ahead over the closing weeks of the campaign in their bid to return to the elite.

Arsene Wenger’s side, meanwhile, looked to have found form again just at the right time ahead of a crucial run of games, which sees them take on Monaco for a place in the last eight of the Champions League.

Arsenal set the tone with a positive start as Santi Cazorla tested Mejias with a curling 25-yard free-kick which almost crept inside the right-hand post.

Left-back Kieran Gibbs, one of several fringe players handed a chance to impress, was inches away from connecting with another slide-rule pass into the Boro penalty area as the home side remained on the offensive.

Giroud had Mejias scrambling across his goal again on 14 minutes to acrobatically palm a curling shot away, with Alexis Sanchez, who had been a doubt because of a knee problem, putting the rebound into the side netting from the tightest of angles.

Boro, though, continued to defend resolutely, while also starting to offer a threat on the counter themselves.

Arsenal finally made their possession count on 27 minutes.

Cazorla, who had been running the game from a deep central role, picked out the overlapping Gibbs, who played a first-time pass into the six-yard box.

Giroud timed his run perfectly to blast the ball off the keeper and into the net.

Before the Championship side could recover, it was 2-0.

As everybody waited on the edge of the penalty area, Sanchez played a quick corner in from the left, which Giroud ran onto ahead of George Friend to volley past Mejias at the near post for his 10th goal of the season.

Boro were in danger of being overrun, as Adam Clayton made a goalline clearance after Sanchez almost finished off another sweeping Arsenal attack from Mesut Ozil’s through-ball.

When the Championship side were able to temporarily relieve the pressure, Albert Adomah’s 25-yard pot-shot was straight at Wojciech Szczesny, the Pole returning to the side in place of David Ospina.

Arsenal, who had laboured to a Premier League win over bottom club Leicester here in midweek, remained on the offensive in the second half.

Danny Welbeck’s angled chip dropped across the face of goal after more clever play from Giroud down the right.

Gabriel, making his debut, collected a first caution in English football when the former Villarreal defender clattered into Adam Reach as the Boro substitute broke quickly down the left.

As the hour mark passed, Mejias turned a rising drive from Gibbs over and then somehow got down to brilliantly tip away a glanced header from Sanchez as the ball looked to be dropping into the far corner.

Boro, though, still fancied their chances of getting back into the tie and Gabriel had to make a couple of important clearances.

It was almost 3-0 when Kenneth Omeruo blocked a bullet header from substitute Theo Walcott on the line, the England forward then denied by a save from Mejias after bursting clear down the right.

In stoppage time, a far-post header from Kike came back off the post, denying Boro’s superb 5,000-strong travelling support a late consolation.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Arsenal 5-0 Aston Villa

Arsenal hit five goals in rout of Aston Villa, Santi Cazorla stars

Arsenal closed the gap on the top four of the Premier League as they romped to a 5-0 win over Aston Villa, whose goal drought continued at the Emirates Stadium.

Olivier Giroud put the Gunners ahead on eight minutes, latching onto a brilliant flick by Mesut Ozil.

Following an improved spell by Villa, whose last Premier League goal came against Manchester United on Dec. 20, Ozil doubled Arsenal’s lead early in the second half with another well-taken breakaway finish.

Theo Walcott scored his second in as many games to make it 3-0 on 63 minutes, with Santi Cazorla adding a fourth from the penalty spot before full-back Hector Bellerin rolled in his first senior Arsenal goal in stoppage time.

Arsenal, who head to Tottenham next weekend, started brightly as Aaron Ramsey fired wide from the edge of the Villa penalty area.

The visitors were cut open again on eight minutes as Arsenal took the lead. Ozil clipped an expert volleyed pass from the centre circle over the high Villa backline, which allowed Giroud to race clear.

The France forward kept his composure, carrying the ball into the penalty area as Jores Okore tried to get back to cover, before chipping an angled, left-foot shot across Brad Guzan and into the bottom right corner.

Arsenal remained on the offensive. Villa defender Ciaran Clark was alert to nod the ball behind after Laurent Koscielny’s header flew across the six-yard box towards Per Mertesacker at the far post.

Villa had settled into a spell of possession, without making progress in the final third, when Arsenal suddenly sprung into life again on 26 minutes.

Cazorla weaved to the edge of the Villa penalty area and sent a low shot goalwards, which beat Guzan but cannoned off the foot of the left-hand post.

Arsenal thought they had doubled their lead when Ozil exchanged passes with Cazorla in the right side of the penalty box before lashing the ball past Guzan. However, the assistant referee on the nearside raised his flag against the Spaniard, who looked level in the build-up.

Guzan then beat away Ramsey’s 18-yard snapshot.

On 41 minutes, Villa were close to breaking their goal drought when a bullet header from Andreas Weimann was saved brilliantly at point-blank range by David Ospina, again preferred to Wojciech Szczesny in the Arsenal goal.

Villa had, though, set an unwanted record of some 570 minutes without a league goal, which continued to rise as the Clock End ticked on into the second half.

After taking time to get into a rhythm again, Arsenal doubled their lead on 56 minutes.

Walcott broke down the right, feeding Giroud in the centre. The France forward laid the ball off to Ozil rampaging down the left.

The German took one touch to set himself at the edge of the penalty area, before clipping a left-foot finish into the bottom right corner with a finish of the highest order.

Arsenal were in cruise control, and went 3-0 ahead with another quality finish on 63 minutes.

Walcott collected a throw-out from Ospina, and darted forwards.

The England forward, who was out for the best part of a year with a knee injury, exchanged passes with Cazorla before taking the ball inside at the edge of the Villa penalty area and then dispatching it into the right corner.

Villa, just three points above the relegation zone, made a double change as Scott Sinclair, signed on loan from Manchester City, made his debut, with Gabby Agbonlahor also coming on as Tom Cleverley and Weimann went off.

Giroud’s flicked header hit the crossbar from a free-kick by Cazorla.

Arsenal were awarded a penalty on 75 minutes when Guzan upended substitute Chuba Akpom.

Cazorla struck his spot-kick down the middle of the goal, and although Guzan got a hand to the ball, he could not keep it out.

In stoppage-time, Guzan got down quickly to deny Akpom, before Bellerin stroked home a fifth from just outside the box, low into the far corner.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Man City 0-2 Arsenal

Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud land Arsenal victory at Man City

Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud struck in each half as Arsenal stunned lacklustre champions Manchester City 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

Cazorla converted a 24th-minute penalty and Giroud headed home from a set-piece with 67 minutes gone to put a dent in City’s Premier League title defence.

City, despite the return of Sergio Aguero, created little in what was a generally dull game and the result left them five points behind leaders Chelsea with a trip to Stamford Bridge to come in a fortnight.

Arsenal’s victory put aside their well-documented recent struggles against top-four opponents and considerably enhanced their prospects of finishing in the Champions League positions this term.

The Gunners were thrashed 6-3 in the corresponding fixture last season and the odds again seemed against them as Aguero and Vincent Kompany returned to the City starting line-up.

But Aguero, who played up front alone in the first half, had a quiet game and City struggled to get anything going even though they dominated possession.

Arsenal looked the more incisive at times and fit-again captain Kompany was made to look rusty.

Kompany’s defensive partner Martin Demichelis also had some moments of uncertainty and Arsenal went close to taking the lead from one of them.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain seized on a weak Demichelis header and burst down the right before whipping in an inviting cross for Giroud but the Frenchman glanced his header wide.

The Gunners broke through five minutes later as Nacho Monreal attempted to play a one-two with Giroud and was impeded by Kompany as he continued his run into the box.

The Spaniard may have gone to ground easily but referee Mike Dean was in no doubt about the contact and Cazorla took full advantage from the spot.

City were unable to muster a dangerous response despite controlling plenty of the ball.

One good Pablo Zabaleta break yielded nothing and Aguero was off-target with a header from a James Milner cross.

Kompany’s frustrating afternoon continued as he was booked for a heavy challenge on Giroud.

City boss Manuel Pellegrini reverted to his default 4-4-2 set-up after the break as Stevan Jovetic replaced Milner and moved alongside Aguero.

The change of approach initially appeared to work and Aguero had their first serious shot with an effort that deflected wide. Jesus Navas was the first to test David Ospina, the deputy keeper again preferred to Wojciech Szczesny, with a powerful effort that was parried away.

But the game also opened up and Sanchez curled an effort across goal after turning Zabaleta out wide. Dean then overlooked two possible fouls on the edge of the City area as a chance opened up for Aaron Ramsey on his return to the side but the Welshman shot over.

City produced another good move but Laurent Koscielny made a vital interception as Navas fired a cross in Aguero’s direction.

Arsenal applied the killer touch after 67 minutes after Sanchez was fouled by Jovetic. Cazorla clipped a free-kick into the area and Giroud reacted quickest, losing his marker Fernando to head home in simple fashion.

It was not dissimilar to an Everton equaliser which also cost City points last week and the defending of set-pieces could be a concern.

Sanchez threatened another with a powerful strike from the edge of the area but Joe Hart saved well.

City tried to hit back and Monreal cleared unconvincingly over his own bar but the hosts did not consistently trouble their visitors.

Arsenal efficiently and professionally played out the remainder of the game as City, despite the introduction of Frank Lampard, lacked inspiration.

As in previous years, it appeared the absence of Yaya Toure due to the African Nations Cup had proved costly and City will be anxious to raise their levels when they face Chelsea.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Arsenal 2-1 QPR

Arsenal win despite Giroud red card

Arsenal survived the sending-off of striker Olivier Giroud for a reckless headbutt to beat QPR 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium and close back up on the top four of the Barclays Premier League.

The Gunners were in cruise control following Alexis Sanchez’s 10th league goal on 37 minutes, the Chilean having seen a tame early penalty saved.

However, a rush of blood from France striker Giroud at the start of the second half reduced Arsenal to 10 men. The Frenchman charged into Nedum Onuoha, the defender hitting the ground in front of the referee.

Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky, making a first start of the season, swept in a second on the break before Charlie Austin set up a tense finale when he converted a penalty with 11 minutes left.

Unlike at Liverpool last weekend, Arsenal held on under late pressure to move within two points of Southampton and one behind fifth-placed West Ham, whom they play on Sunday.

Arsenal, who had lost only one of their 17 previous Boxing Day Premier League matches, made an electric start and were awarded an early penalty when former Gunners defender Armand Traore tripped Sanchez.

The Chilean held onto the ball, and Santi Cazorla, who scored from the spot here against Newcastle, gave way.

However, Sanchez’s effort lacked any real pace towards the bottom right corner, and Robert Green got down to make the save.

Arsenal’s tempo dropped after the penalty miss, but the home side remained dominant in possession nevertheless as the conditions worsened.

Onuoha looked to have wrestled Danny Welbeck to the ground just inside the QPR penalty area, but this time referee Martin Atkinson was not interested.

Rio Ferdinand, making his first start since October, pulled back former United team-mate Welbeck to concede a free-kick 25 yards out in a central position and was cautioned.

Giroud whipped the ball over the wall, but Green made a smart diving save.

QPR, who had lost all eight of their Premier League away matches so far, continued to defend deep, with six men sitting around the edge of the 18-yard box.

The visitors’ rearguard was, though, breached on 37 minutes.

Cazorla pushed the ball out to Kieran Gibbs on the overlap down the left.

The defender looked up before chipping a cross back through the six-yard box, where no-one had picked up the run of Sanchez as the diminutive Chilean guided a cushioned header into the far corner.

Arsenal were reduced to 10 men on 53 minutes following a moment of red mist by Giroud.

The France striker was bundled over by Onuoha on the edge of the area as they chased a long ball forwards.

Giroud, incandescent with rage, scrambled to his feet to confront the defender, pushing his forehead into the defender’s face. Onuoha went to ground and the referee, who was right on the spot, reached for his back pocket to brandish a red card.

The Arsenal striker, who will now serve a three-match suspension, knew what was coming and headed straight down the tunnel as Gunners boss Arsene Wenger glared on.

Arsenal looked to respond by continuing their pressure, but QPR had been handed a lifeline and manager Harrry Redknapp made a change on 62 minutes as Karl Henry was replaced by Leroy Fer and Traore by Junior Hoilett.

The Gunners, though, soon doubled their lead.

Sanchez made another penetrating run to the edge of the QPR penalty area, where he played in Rosicky on the overlap and the Czech midfielder dispatched a low, first-time shot past Green.

QPR then grabbed a lifeline with 11 minutes left after Mathieu Debuchy tripped Hoilett just inside the penalty area, with the referee again expertly placed although replays suggested the defender did get a touch on the ball.

Austin made no mistake from the spot, blasting the ball down the centre for his 12th goal of an impressive season.

Wenger sent on defender Calum Chambers for the closing stages, replacing Rosicky, and Mathieu Flamini bundled a goal-bound effort off the line as the Gunners battled to victory.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

Martin Skrtel salvages late Liverpool draw against Arsenal

Martin Skrtel scored an equaliser deep into injury time as Liverpool rescued a 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

After a first half that largely failed to ignite, the match sparked into action just before the break. Philippe Coutinho’s neat turn allowed him the space to fire home off the post and give the Reds a deserved lead, but Arsenal hit back instantly when Mathieu Debuchy headed home following a free kick.

Liverpool might have restored their advantage in the second half when Raheem Sterling took the ball around Szczesny — seemingly with the help of his hand — before crossing for Steve Gerrard, but the Reds captain headed over the bar.

Not long afterwards, Olivier Giroud had put Arsenal in front, smashing home from close range after Santi Cazorla’s cut-back.

That looked to have settled it, particularly after Fabio Borini was sent off late on, but Skrtel powered home a header from a corner to ensure the hosts took a deserved share of the spoils.

Arsenal can realistically have few complaints having been completely outplayed in the first half and some of the second but the point undoubtedly meant much more to their visitors, who have now strung together three decent performances in a week.

It may not have been the devastating first 20 minutes seen on this ground back in March when a stunned Gunners found themselves 4-0 down but the first half was probably as well as Liverpool had played all season.

The old fast-paced pressing and tempo had returned led by the unlikely figures of Lazar Markovic and Coutinho, who aside from snapping at the heels of their opponents were providing a much-needed injection of attacking thrust, with the latter an early free-kick which Steven Gerrard could not capitalise from.

Adam Lallana, whose movement was cleverly providing the link between midfield and attack, and Markovic both had chances as Liverpool’s dominance of possession continued to produce opportunities but the former fired over and Wojciech Szczesny denied the latter.

Some of the pre-match billing had centred around comparisons between Alexis Sanchez, the striker Liverpool wanted as a Luis Suarez replacement in the summer, and Raheem Sterling, the man currently being asked to deputise in the injured Daniel Sturridge’s absence, but neither had much impact in the first half.

The threat of Sterling’s pace kept the visitors’ defence on their toes but he had only one real run at them which teed up Markovic to curl over with a first-time shot.

Sanchez, scorer of 14 goals this season, was virtually anonymous but his most significant contribution came when he won and then took the free-kick which led to Arsenal’s equaliser with virtually the last touch of the half.

Liverpool had just gone ahead through Coutinho’s second goal of the season, a richly-deserved effort for both the team and individual.

Giroud gave the ball away to Jordan Henderson who picked out his Brazilian team-mate on the edge of the area and he shifted the ball onto his right foot before firing in off the far post.

That appeared to be that but in added time Debuchy outjumped Skrtel after Mertesacker and Mathieu Flamini, fortunate not to escape a second yellow card for catching Lallana in the face, both won headers from Sanchez’s free-kick.

The delay for a nasty cut to Skrtel’s head caused by the accidental boot of Giroud affected the flow of play early in the second half but the pace picked up again when Szczesny’s ill-advised charge out of goal saw Sterling cross for Gerrard to loop over a diving header.

But while Liverpool were missing their chances there was nothing wrong with Arsenal’s cutting edge and from a counter-attack down their left Giroud exchanged passes with Santi Cazorla to guide a first-time shot through the legs of Brad Jones.

Two efforts on target, two goals scored. It appeared to be a classic snatch-and-grab from Arsenal.

When Szczesny tipped over substitute Fabio Borini’s header and turned aside Sterling’s shot it only further highlighted the host’s previous issues up front.

Borini’s second yellow card for a high challenge on Cazorla, having already been booked for throwing the ball away, just added further insult.

But with two minutes of the additional time remaining Skrtel powered home Lallana’s corner.

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