Monreal on Fire as Arsenal Blitz Crystal Palace
Before yesterday’s game, the back pages were filled with updates on the transfer saga involving Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s swap deal and there was the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bit, as Dortmund left him out of their squad that drew 1-1 with Hertha Berlin before confirming that the Gunners had made a formal enquiry for their player.
However, there was the business of football to take care of with Roy Hodgson’s side coming to the Emirates on the back of just one defeat in 12 games, unlike their hosts, that had looked out of sorts in recent weeks. Many also wondered whether it was going to be a back three or back four, but a shake up was needed from that sorry outing at Bournemouth and the boss responded with fielding a 4-2-3-1 setup with some injury returnees like Nacho Monreal, Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Ozil breathing some new life into the team. Aaron Ramsey was ill so it was a first start since November for Mohamed Elneny, a player that has been on the fringes for the most part of his Arsenal career. Danny Welbeck had some sort of injury but nobody complained.
With the Gunners failing to record a victory in their last three league games, an early goal would have gone a long way to settle the nerves and it arrived when Monreal reacted the quickest to a corner to put the home side ahead. That was his third goal in his many games for the club and it’s really nice knowing that he can chip in with the goals when needed. Monreal turned from scorer to provider when he was at the end of a good team move before squaring play for Alex Iwobi that side-footed the ball home. Iwobi has been in very poor form in recent weeks so it was good seeing him get one for himself and the team.
Two goals quickly became three when Monreal…, yes, Monreal provided another cut back that was bundled into the goal by the returning captain, Koscielny, but the Gunners saved the best for last when Jack Wilshere and Ozil combined brilliantly and mesmerized the Palace defense before Ozil found Alexandre Lacazette with a neat back heeled threaded pass that allowed the Frenchman end his nine game goal drought to make it four.
In 22 minutes, the Gunners ran riot past Crystal Palace and it was great to see how the lads controlled the game with ease. In the second 45, the home side took their foot off the pedal but Iwobi spurned a chance to make it five when a square pass to an unmarked Lacazette would have been the better option. Petr Cech’s search for his 200th Premier League clean sheet had to move to the next game as Luka Milivojevic fired the ball into the net after some defensive lapses but at 4-1 it was a very comprehensive victory for the side.
The only downside to the game was seeing Monreal substituted for what we believe was a ‘tight hamstring’ and with Chelsea coming to town on Wednesday, one can only hope that he will be fit enough for the duel. There was also one for the stats boys, as Lacazette’s goal was the 500th scored by a Frenchman for the Gunners. To think about half of it was scored by Thierry Henry. What a legend.
The feel good mood is back and the papers are reporting that Mkhitaryan is set for his medicals to complete the move to North London. I can only hope that him and Aubameyang will be available for selection against Chelsea in mid-week.
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