Arsenal have stayed top of the Premier League after scoring two late goals in a 2-0 win against Cardiff while other title contenders also started the year with victories.
Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott scored Arsenal’s goals at the Emirates to down a resilient Cardiff team which played in front of expected new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and frustrated Arsenal for 88 minutes in the driving rain.
“We have a special spirit in the side and you know we’ll fight until the last minute in the game,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on Wednesday.
Manchester City remained second, one point behind the Gunners, after a 3-2 win at Swansea, while Chelsea’s 3-0 victory at Southampton in awful weather conditions ensured Jose Mourinho’s team stayed in third place, two points behind the leaders.
After two consecutive losses, Liverpool climbed back into the top four after Luis Suarez scored his 20th goal of the season in a 2-0 win over Hull.
Arsenal had to wait until two minutes from time before Bendtner gave the Gunners reasons to celebrate the start of a new year when he pounced from a rebound.
The striker picked up an injury while scoring and was substituted before Walcott chipped the ball over goalkeeper David Marshall.
“It doesn’t look too good, but it’s too early to know. Let’s hope it’s good news tomorrow morning,” Wenger said about Bendtner’s injury.
In other games, Everton fell to fifth when it was held to a 1-1 draw by Stoke, Aston Villa beat last-place Sunderland 1-0, Fulham earned a comeback 2-1 win over West Ham to climb out of the relegation zone, Crystal Palace drew 1-1 with Norwich and West Brom beat Newcastle 1-0. Manchester United hosted Tottenham in a late game.