Olivier Giroud scored a stupendous “scorpion kick” volley as Arsenal climbed to third place in the Premier League table with a 2-0 New Year’s Day victory over Crystal Palace.
Giroud netted with a breathtaking improvised strike reminiscent of Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s recent goal for Manchester United and Alex Iwobi was also on target at the Emirates Stadium.
A bashful Giroud told the BBC: “It is not difficult to say it is the best one. I was a bit lucky, but it was the only thing I could do. The ball was behind me and I tried to hit it with a backheel.”
Victory left Arsenal nine points below leaders Chelsea and they were joined in the top four by Tottenham Hotspur, who replaced Manchester City in the Champions League places, after winning 4-1 at Watford.
Arsenal, who were without the ill Mesut Ozil, finish the weekend three points below second-place Liverpool, with north London rivals Spurs a point back, above City on goal difference.
Tottenham beat Watford in their second successive 4-1 win, having prevailed by the same scoreline at Southampton in mid-week, to rack up a fourth consecutive league victory.
“We played very good, to a very high standard,” said Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, whose side host leaders Chelsea on Wednesday.
“We know that Chelsea’s performance is very high. They are a very good team with high confidence, but we will try to challenge them to take the three points.”
At Anfield, Georginio Wijnaldum’s early header earned Liverpool a 1-0 New Year’s Eve victory over Manchester City that left Pep Guardiola’s men 10 points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea.
The Dutch midfielder struck in the eighth minute, emphatically converting a cross from Adam Lallana, as second-place Liverpool trimmed Chelsea’s advantage back to six points.
It was a fourth consecutive league win for Jurgen Klopp’s side, who look best placed to hunt Chelsea down in the season’s second half, particularly in the absence of European distractions.
“They’re on an outstanding run,” said Klopp of Chelsea.
“Thirteen (wins) already. Not bad!
“But can you imagine how annoying it is when you win 13 games in a row and there’s one team only six points behind?”
Liverpool finish the calendar year with 43 points – the most they have ever amassed at the halfway point of a Premier League campaign.
Despite a marked second-half improvement at Anfield, City manager Guardiola must return to the drawing board, having seen his team’s three-game winning run come to an end.
City have now lost four times this season, having also been beaten by Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Leicester City.