Laurent Koscielny
Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal scores his team's first goal, past Robert Elliot of Newcastle United, during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on 2 January, 2016 in London, England Getty

Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny has applauded Arsene Wenger for resting him against Bournemouth, which has helped him perform to the best of his ability in their 1-0 win over Newcastle. The Frenchman scored the winner for the Gunners, which saw them open up a two point lead over second placed Leicester City, who drew against Bournemouth.

Wenger had rested four players for their game against Bournemouth, following their 4-0 spanking against Southampton on Boxing Day. Koscielny, Joel Campbell, Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Flamini were all given the day off, but barring Campbell, returned to the starting 11 against Newcastle, where they played an important part in a crucial win.

It was an extremely busy period, where they played Manchester City, Southampton, Bournemouth and Newcastle in the space of just over 10 days, but managed to come out with nine points, a respectable return from the fixtures. The Gunners found it extremely difficult to beat a resurgent Newcastle side, who fashioned some very good chances to get into the scoresheet, but found their route block by Petr Čech, who made two very important saves in each half of the game.

"During the Christmas period, when you play three games in a week, it's very difficult for our physique. We have a good squad and we were able to rotate against Bournemouth, so all the players who played were fresh and able to do their jobs well," Koscielny told Arsenal's official website.

Koscielny knew that they had to dig in to get maximum points from the fixture and after a brilliant start to the game, Newcastle settled and were able to hold their own for the major part of the fixture. The Gunners had to resort to yet another Mesut Özil corner to open their scoresheet, with Olivier Giroud teeing up his French teammate for a neatly taken goal.

"We started the game well in the first 10 to 15 minutes. We had good movement with good passes. After that we were a little bit tired and at this moment we knew we needed to be stronger at the back to keep a clean sheet. After that we knew we would have the opportunities to score the goal. During the game this was the case and then I scored from a corner to help us win 1-0. Sometimes we need to win like this," he added.