It was one of those days when most things did not quite go right; one of those days when most 50-50 decisions went the away team's way, when the referee just seemed to get the decisions wrong, at least as far as the home team were concerned; one of those days when the crowd were frustrated, the players bereft of ideas, and the manager, walking around the touchline, yelling at the fourth referee. It was one of those days which would have normally seen Arsenal walk away with a disappointing draw, or even a loss.

However, this Arsenal team, the league leaders, dug deep, pounced on the one real chance they created with the scoreline at 0-0, with Laurent Koscielny showing he can be a fox in the box as well to walk away with a hardly-deserved-but-they-will-certainly-take-it 1-0 victory over Newcastle United at the Emirates.

Arsenal needed to start the New Year with a victory, just to establish their title credentials just that wee bit more, and while they were made to work for it by a dogged and sometimes-unlucky Newcastle side, they found the crucial goal and the three points in the end to go two clear of Leicester City, who only managed a 0-0 draw against 10-man Bournemouth.

"We played a tough game, and we won and that is the most important," Arsenal goalscorer Koscielny said in a TV interview after the match. "We fought to the end, kept the ball when needed and found a way through, that was what was important.

"We also kept a clean sheet, and Petr made a couple of saves, and we won. Sometimes you play well, but you don't win, but today we didn't play well, but we found a way and we fight for the title."

Koscielny scored the winner on 72 minutes, nipping in behind a napping Ayoze Perez to direct the ball into the net after some good work by Olivier Giroud off an initial corner. Newcastle might have thought they had done enough for at least a point, with Petr Cech make a couple of big saves too, particularly one to deny Giorginio Wijnaldum when the match was locked at 0-0.

Aaron Ramsey had a couple of big chances to make the game safe as well, but 1-0 it stayed and Arsenal and Arsene Wenger will be more than happy to take that after a far-from-convincing performance.