EPL: Lucky Gunners

EPL: Lucky Gunners
Arsenal's Olivier Giroud (C) heads and scores his goal against Newcastle United during their English Premier League soccer match at St James' Park in Newcastle, northern England.

Newcastle 0

Arsenal  1

ENGLAND - The single of 2013 was Daft Punk's Get Lucky.

Arsenal should consider adopting the tune as their club song.

The soundtrack of the year was the soundtrack of their fortunate 1-0 victory at Newcastle that allowed the Gunners to end 2013 sitting pretty at the summit.

Last night, Arsenal got lucky.

Arsene Wenger played it safe. Hisside's attacking instincts were mostly curtailed. They were more than equalled by the muscular Magpies.

Theo Walcott played on the periphery and Olivier Giroud was mostly a neglected spectator.

And somehow, extraordinarily, unexpectedly, Walcott provided the assist for Giroud's winner.

If the duo's literal contribution could be measured in crumbs, their impact could prove colossal.

Arsenal's tired toiling summed up most of their Christmas campaign.

They were matched by Everton, humbled in Napoli, massacred in Manchester, cancelled out by Chelsea and pulled out a get-out-of-jail-free card at Upton Park.

They obviously had a second one to throw down at St James' Park.

Throughout this month, Arsenal chugged along while Manchester City'bullet train and Liverpool's juggernaut threatened to leave them choking on the trailing dust of their slipstreams.

But they end the year ahead of the pack, thanks to their grandmaster edging a cautious, niggly chess match.

Both managers wagered on going out wide. Their midfields were more congested than the post-Christmas sales, but no one profited.

Newcastle's seven wins in nine games deserved respect, but perhaps not as much as the five midfielders Wenger lined up around the centre circle.

Mesut Oezil's shoulder injury might be unfortunate, but the Gunners' formation was unadventurous.

Mathieu Flamini, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky did not create inspiration.

They cured insomnia.

Wenger effectively stuck an ERP gantry in central midfield in a bid to direct traffic to the flanks.But so did Alan Pardew.

He ordered Vurnon Anita and Cheick Tiote to clamp, chop and chase any wanderer in red.

The contest became a clash of fullbacks. On one side, Mathieu Debuchy rose to the challenge.

On the other, Kieran Gibbs headed off on his holidays. At times, he appeared to take Walcott with him.

Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko strolled through the space vacated by the absent Gibbs.

But Walcott had no such luck on the other flank.

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