Arsenal returned to winning ways in unconvincing fashion as Mesut Ozil's stunning volley gave them a 1-0 Premier League win over struggling Newcastle United.
The Gunners had failed to win in their last three league games but the visit of Newcastle side without a victory since October will have been viewed as a welcome one.
Most will have expected the floodgates to open when Ozil opened the scoring in magnificent fashion after 23 minutes.
But Arsenal struggled to put the game to bed as Newcastle produced the kind of battling performance their fans have wanted during a worrying slide down the table that has now seen them collect only one point from nine games.
The Magpies began the game just a point above the bottom three and their lack of reward for a commendable showing will do little ease to relegation fears.
For the Gunners, the result sees them avoid a vital slip up in the fight for the top four, though few will be convinced by the manner in which they emerged triumphant.
6 - Mesut Ozil has been directly involved in six goals in his last five Premier League games at the Emirates (2 goals, 4 assists). Cracker.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 16, 2017
Newcastle offered something of an early threat as Jamaal Lascelles forced Petr Cech to turn behind from Mikel Merino's free-kick.
Swift build-up play involving Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette was wasted at the other end as Alexis Sanchez rifled over the bar, before Ainsley Maitland-Niles sent a low drive narrowly wide.
But when the deadlock was broken it was done in some style.
Under pressure from Sanchez, Florian Lejeune was unable to clear his lines and his header sat up perfectly for Ozil to fire a stunning left-footed volley into the top corner from just inside the penalty area, leaving Elliot with no chance.
Granit Xhaka then drove an effort wide as Arsenal continued in the ascendancy, with Elliot required at the near post to deny Ozil a second before the break following a neat exchange with Lacazette.
The start of the second half saw Alex Iwobi almost profit from a ricochet that Elliot was unable to handle, but the Republic of Ireland international was able to gather the rebound.
Matt Ritchie was introduced from the substitutes' bench and wasted a chance to level when he hit over from the edge of the area.
Jacob Murphy did significantly better as he drew a low save from Cech as the energy of Merino caused Arsenal problems.
Newcastle were then almost caught cold, however, as Lacazette could not find the accuracy with his impudent attempt at a lobbed finish after Iwobi's throughball.
Iwobi was forced off through injury for Arsenal before an entertaining finish to the contest saw Jack Wilshere draw a fine reaction save from Elliot, before Laurent Koscielny headed wide.
Newcastle forward Joselu then saw an effort deflect narrowly off target at the other end as Arsene Wenger's men edged their way to a much-needed three points.
Key Opta stats:
- Arsenal have won 13 of their last 14 home Premier League games, losing the other to Manchester United.
- Newcastle are without a win in nine Premier League games (D1 L8), their longest winless run in league football since May 2015 (10).
- The Gunners have won each of their last 10 Premier League games against the Magpies, a run stretching back to March 2012.
- Rafael Benitez has never enjoyed a victory away to Arsenal in the Premier League in seven attempts, drawing two and losing five.
- Jack Wilshere started consecutive Premier League games for Arsenal for the first time since May 2015.
- Petr Cech has now kept 199 Premier League clean sheets.
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