Crystal Palace 0 Arsenal 2: The Gunners Stay on Top of the League
Selhurst Park (Premier League)
Arsenal – Arteta 47′, Giroud 87′
Following the rather disappointing loss to Dortmund in midweek, the Gunners needed to bounce back to winning ways to restore confidence to the team and they couldn’t have wished for a better game to play than a Crystal Palace side devoid of their manager after just eight league games gone.
Arsene Wenger made two changes from the team that struggled in midweek as Santi Cazorla and a fit-again Mathieu Flamini returned to the starting lineup. There was a familiar face among the opposition as Marouane Chamakh donned the home colors of Crystal Palace following his free transfer to the London-based outfit this summer.
Arsenal hit the ground running from the onset as Aaron Ramsey connected well with Bacary Sagna on the right and the Frenchman’s cross was lofted straight at Olivier Giroud but the big forward failed to connect with the ball and the effort went wide off the mark. There was a cause for concern afterwards as an injury caused Flamini to be replaced by Serge Gnabry. It was later revealed at the end of the game that he suffered from a groin injury.
Mesut Ozil teed up Sagna who was bombing forward and his cross was adjudged to have hit the opposition defender on his arm but Arsenal’s appeal for a penalty fell on deaf ears. Gnabry did well to fashion a chance for Ozil on the edge of the six-yard box but the German schemer probably made the wrong decision to square the ball rather than shooting it as the chance went begging when the defense cleared the ball to safety.
The hearts of the visiting Arsenal fans skipped a beat when Per Mertesacker’s poor excuse of a back header was almost intercepted by Chamakh but the Gunners had an onrushing Wojciech Szczesny to thank as he darted off his line to blast the ball to Row Z. Chamakh was probably playing with a point to prove and he was clean through on the edge of the area but his tame shot was easy pickings for Szczesny.
Mikel Arteta and Ramsey combined well to tee up Cazorla but the diminutive magician’s shot went wide. Barry Bannan then swung a corner into Arsenal’s danger area leaving Szczesny in No Man’s Land but Dikgacoi’s header went wide. Late on, Ramsey fired a shot from an acute angle that was blocked by Julian Speroni in goal and Jedinak’s cross was just missed by a whisker by Chamakh.
Arsenal began the second half like a house on fire and with just barely two minutes into the half, Sagna and Ramsey worked in tandem to tee up Gnabry that was too fleet footed for Guerdiora and the Algerian midfielder scythed down the young German in the box, leaving the ref no choice but to point to the spot. A cool-headed Arteta blasted the resulting penalty into the net, even though the goalie guessed the right way.
Laurent Koscielny carved the Crystal Palace defense open with a cross field ball to Sagna. The fullback looked up and swung a delicious cross to Giroud but the French forward misjudged the flight of the ball as the ball hit his shoulder and went wide. Guediora that was determined to atone for his penalty error made a bursting run into Arsenal’s area before feeding Moxey whose shot was saved by Szczesny.
A moment of controversy arrived when Chamakh was sent through on goal but he was felled by a clumsy tackle from Arteta. With the ref believing that Arteta was the last man, he wasted no time in giving his his marching orders.
Wenger had to steady the ship in the wake of the numerical disadvantage so he summoned the services of Jack Wilshere for Gnabry and shortly afterwards, Nacho Monreal for a rather disappointing Santi Cazorla.
Crystal Palace started to capitalize on their advantage when Ward fired a shot that smashed the cross bar. Barry Bannan swung in the resulting corner and it was headed straight to Mile Jedinak’s path but the Australian’s sweet goal-bound volley forced Szczesny to make a magnificent top-drawer save.
Monreal went on an astonishing solo run that saw him take on all comers but his effort on goal was blocked by a defender. With Ozil stationed on the right, Arsenal used him as an outlet and he bore down on goal before threading a pass to Wilshere but the Englishman overran the ball to Ozil’s bewilderment. Monreal tried to dink the ball to Ozil but his spectacular effort didn’t come out as he’d planned.
Right on the death, Giroud instigated a counter attack with a neat flick to Ramsey that went on a run and waited for the right moment for the Frenchman to arrive at the box. With Giroud in sight, Ramsey gently cushioned the ball above a defender to the path of Giroud that nodded his effort in to put the game beyond doubt.
Szczesny (8) stopped a couple of shots and must have been delighted to have secured a clean sheet.
Sagna’s (8) distribution from the right was superb and he offered a good outlet for attacks down the right flank.
Gibbs (7) had a sturdy defensive performance as you’d expect from a player in fine form.
Koscielny (7) and Mertesacker (7) had relatively untroubled run outs as Chamakh didn’t really offer any threat.
Arteta (7) did well to keep a cool head to convert the opening goal but he must be disappointed to have gotten an early bath.
Ozil (7) was very direct in his movement and did very well to serve as an auxiliary right winger when the need arose.
Cazorla (6) had a pretty disappointing game for a player of his high standards.
Ramsey (7) looked a bit like the “Ramsey of Old” making unnecessary extra touches but his assist for Giroud was a touch of class.
Giroud (7) linked up well with his teammates and would be happy to have scored a header as he missed a couple from Sagna’s distribution.
Wilshere (7) had a good outing in the middle of the park, making up for the void created by Arteta’s sending off.
Monreal (7) protected Gibbs and did well to offer an attacking threat from the left flank.
Arsene Wenger lauded the players for their good performance and confirmed that he would not appeal for Arteta’s red card as he’s only going to miss one game for a professional foul. In the end it was a very good response to the Dortmund loss and most importantly, the Gunners stay on top of the league.
I’ll be attending the Online Youth Achievement Awards ceremony today in Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria as my blog, Gooner Daily, was nominated in the Best Online Media for Sports category. I want to use this medium to thank everyone that voted for the blog and I hope I win.
Till then, Sayonara.
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