Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace: Positives Taken From the Gunners’ Victory
Arsenal got three points from their last Premier League encounter against Crystal Palace and with a crucial fixture against Liverpool around the horizon, it was absolutely vital for Arsene Wenger’s men to grab maximum points, bearing in mind that they dropped two against Southampton.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put up a Man of the Match performance and there were some major positives taken from the game. Here’s Gooner Daily’s top three.
The Ox in the Middle – A Move Worth its Weight in Gold
With Aaron Ramsey suffering a setback from his thigh injury and Jack Wilshere’s ankle crocked, Mathieu Flamini’s suspension forced Wenger’s hand to make a punt for Kim Kallstrom but unfortunately, the experienced Swede suffered a back strain that could sideline him for a couple of weeks.
Arsenal had Tomas Rosicky as the only plausible option to draft into the squad to play alongside Mikel Arteta but the ageless Czech had his own fitness issues to contend with, so Wenger trusted Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to at least duplicate his performance against Coventry in the middle when he played in tandem with Wilshere in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield.
The Ox grabbed Arsenal’s opener when he lurked into the box and was found from a peach of a pass from Santi Cazorla. His first touch was Dennis Bergkamp-esque and his second even better as he chipped the ball over Julian Speroni to put the Gunners up front. He even started the buildup to the second goal with a neat back-heeled pass to Olivier Giroud before he made a slalom run and placed the ball past the goalie to make it two.
With Arsenal still have injury problems with their central midfielders, expect the Ox to play alongside Arteta in Anfield, but he may need to be a lot more disciplined. It’s fair to say that his move to the middle was worth its weight in gold.
Clean Sheets – A New Habit at the Emirates
I’ve shared my thoughts in the past about Arsenal’s knack for picking up clean sheets at home, and the trend seemed to continue as the Gunners kept another clean sheet at home to Crystal Palace. This means that in 19 games played at the Emirates this season, the Gunners have kept a whooping 13 clean sheets, with just a goal conceded in their last 11 home matches.
Consistency at the back has been key to Arsenal’s success this season, and the trio of Wojciech Szczesny, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker have been ever-present figures at the back for the Gunners this season. Bacary Sagna was superb in his defensive duties and Nacho Monreal put up a better showing from his appalling display against Southampton on Tuesday.
These clean sheets have become a new habit at the Emirates and we the fans are loving it!
The Goals Have Been Shared Equally – Eight Different Scorers From the Last Seven Games
Many fans (I included) clamored for the manager to take a punt for a new striker as the opportunity presented itself via the winter transfer window, but like the boss he is, Arsene Wenger chose to sign a cultured midfielder on the interim while flushing away the last existing deadwood, Park Chu-Young, to Watford on loan.
However, many fans don’t seem to realize that the goals have been shared equally among the members of the team, thereby alleviating the burden off Olivier Giroud’s shoulders. In Arsenal’s last seven games, the Gunners have claimed six victories and that draw against Southampton and it’s worth noting that there have been eight different goalscorers in this amazing run of results.
Starting with the very first fixture in the turn of the New Year, Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott scored the goals that killed off Cardiff City. Shortly afterwards, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky registered their names in Arsenal folklore as they scored the goals in the North London Derby that sent Tottenham packing from the FA Cup. Jack Wilshere and the alpha-dog in attack, Olivier Giroud, popped up with the goods against Aston Villa and a Cazorla brace was enough to put Fulham to the sword. Lukas Podolski joined the scoring act against Coventry and the Ox opened his goalscoring account this season against Crystal Palace.
In this hot streak of results in the turn of the New Year, Santi Cazorla has scored five goals, Giroud has banged in three, the Ox and Podolski have two each while Bendtner, Rosicky, Wilshere and Walcott have one each. This ultimately means that the goalscoring burden has been shared equally by the team, which is beneficial for the squad in the run-in for the title come May.
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