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Delaney own goal helps Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 2-1

Rohit Menon
548   //    16 Aug 2015, 19:05 IST
Sanchez helped Arsenal gain a vital three points

Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 2-1 in the Premier League fixture between the two sides at the Selhurst Park. Goals from Olivier Giroud and a Delaney own goal ensured that Arsenal picked up their first points of the season, after they lost their opening game to West Ham United.

The previous two meetings between the sides both ended in 2-1 victories for Gunners. They have won all four encounters against Crystal Palace ever since the Eagles were promoted back to the Premier League two years ago, with their last defeat against them coming in a 2-1 loss at Highbury in 1994. 

There was only one change in the line-up from the one that lost at the Emirates last week, with Alexis Sanchez coming in to replace Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. The Chilean started on the left flank in his second appearance of the season as Arsene Wenger accomodated Santi Cazorla in a midfield role alongside Francis Coquelin and played Aaron Ramsey on the right wing. Crystal Palace made two changes to the team that beat Norwich City 3-1, with Connor Wickham and Yannick Bolasie starting ahead of Glenn Murray and Jordon Mutch as Alan Pardew set his side up in a 4-5-1 formation.

Arsenal took a deserved lead in the 16th minute courtesy a splendid finish from Olivier Giroud. The big Frenchman latched on to a fine Mesut Ozil cross from the left hand side after a fine breakaway from the Gunners, and acrobatically volleyed the ball with his left boot into the bottom left corner.

The away side could only hold onto the lead for 12 minutes though, as their defensive frailties returned to haunt them for the second game running. Koscielny failed to get a block on Joel Ward after turning his back slightly, allowing the Crystal Palace midfielder to thump an accurate strike past Petr Cech into the bottom right corner.

Both teams fought hard to take the lead before half-time, with Arsenal getting the better opportunities of the two London teams. In the 36th minute, Aaron Ramsey brought out an excellent save from Palace keeper McCarthy after a brilliant ball from Ozil.

The second half started off at a similar tempo to the first, and it took Arsenal just 10 minutes to take the lead once again. Alexis Sanchez was at the heart of the move as the he towered over his man to thunder a header towards goal after receviving a Bellerin cross at the back post. His header was not on target and should’ve been cleared by Damian Delaney, but the defender could only poke the ball into his own net to score an own goal.

As the match wore on, the possession of both teams evened out and a lot more opportunities were being created. Towards the end of the match Arsenal had to withstand considerable pressure from the home side, but handled it all as they held on for a vital victory.

Arsenal didn’t show great value in this match, but they do have a few positives to take away from their result. Mesut Ozil was at his absolute best, twisting and turning defenders and picking up pin-point passes at will. His assist for the first goal was sublime as he routinely drifted onto the left flank whenever Sanchez decided to drift inwards. There are signs of a developing understanding between the two, which will only improve as they spend more time playing together. 

The Gunners also made fewer defensive mistakes and looked a lot more confident on the ball with Santi Cazorla in the centre of the pitch, although his partner Coquelin should’ve been sent off for multiple rash challenges throughout the match. Olivier Giroud’s hold-up and link-up play was nearly perfect as he battled with the Crystal Palace defenders and provided a platform to Arsenal’s creative midfielders to bounce the ball of him and do their thing. His movement and finish for the goal was exquisite as well.

Crystal Palace didn’t do much wrong in this defeat, although they will be rueing all the missed opportunites they had throughout the game. The Palace players were hesitant to make a quick decision whenever they got into a good position inside the box, allowing Arsenal’s defenders to easily come in and clear the ball. Yohan Cabaye and his midfielders saw plenty of the ball but could’t manage to create enough clear-cut opportunities and hence they couldn’t steal a point.

Crystal Palace stay in sixth place while Arsenal move up to eleventh place after the result. 

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Rohit Menon
Gooner. Football enthusiast. Dreamer.
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