Arsene Wenger said that Arsenal had enjoyed a “perfect week” after they won 2-0 at Aston Villa on Sunday to supplant Manchester City at the Premier League summit.
Arsenal reached the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday by winning 3-0 at Olympiakos, Olivier Giroud scoring all three goals, and the Frenchman set the London side on their way at Villa Park with an early penalty.
Aaron Ramsey doubled Arsenal’s lead before halftime, starting and finishing a swift counter-attack, as Wenger’s men leapfrogged both City and former leaders Leicester City, who host champions Chelsea on Monday.
“It was a perfect week for us,” Wenger told the BBC. “We spent a lot of energy away in the Champions League on Wednesday, but found the resources to win again here today (Sunday), in another away match.
“This season is so unpredictable that you just focus on yourself and try to play well in the next game. You know if you are consistent then you have a chance. This is an opportunity for us to find that consistency.”
Arsenal’s fans’ happiness at seeing their side go top was enhanced hours later when arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur’s 14-game unbeaten run was ended by a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Newcastle United.
Meanwhile, substitute Divock Origi scored a 96th-minute equaliser as Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool drew 2-2 at home to West Bromwich Albion.
At Villa Park, Giroud sent Brad Guzan the wrong way from the penalty spot in the eighth minute after Alan Hutton was penalised for holding back Theo Walcott, which gave the France striker his 50th Arsenal league goal.
Ramsey made it 2-0 seven minutes before halftime, tackling Idrissa Gueye in midfield and sparking a move that saw the ball pass from Walcott to Mesut Ozil, who squared the ball for the Welshman to roll home.
ORIGI RESCUES LIVERPOOL
In keeping Villa at bay, Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech equalled former England international David James’s Premier League record of 169 clean sheets.
Villa manager Remi Garde had been hoping to get one over his former mentor Wenger, who signed him as a player at Arsenal, but his team remain eight points adrift of safety at the foot of the table.
Arsenal went a point clear of City and Leicester and three points above fourth-place Manchester United, who lost 2-1 at Bournemouth on Saturday.
Tottenham would have moved above United had they beaten Newcastle, but they remain fifth, three points below the Champions League berths, after late goals from substitutes Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez took Steve McClaren’s side out of the relegation zone at Norwich City’s expense.
Eric Dier’s glancing header from Christian Eriksen’s corner gave Spurs a 39th-minute lead, but Mitrovic poked home an equaliser two minutes after coming on as a substitute in the 72nd minute before Perez squeezed a winner beneath Hugo Lloris in the third minute of added time.
Newcastle had started to turn a corner by beating Liverpool last weekend and Klopp’s men needed a last-gasp intervention from Origi to avoid a second consecutive defeat against West Brom.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson marked his first start since August with a 21st-minute opener, but Craig Dawson punished an error by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to equalise on the half hour before Jonas Olsson headed the visitors in front in the 73rd minute from Chris Brunt’s corner.
Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren had to be stretchered off with a nasty knee injury, but the eight minutes of injury time that ensued enabled Origi to rescue the hosts with a deflected equaliser.
Liverpool rise one place to ninth, five points off the top four, with Tony Pulis’s West Brom four points further back in 13th.
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