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A sign of champions? A gritty win produced by Arsenal against Crystal Palace

A sixth successive defeat for Crystal Palace at the hands of fellow Londoners Arsenal, but the scoreline certainly doesn’t reflect the spirited display produced by the Premier League new boys. Six changes were made by caretaker boss Keith Millen which were quite defensive that indicted his intentions for the game in which they failed to score. The gusty conditions benefited the visitors seen as they like to play on the ground, in comparison with Palace hoping to score from a set piece but ultimately the quality of the opposition shone through.

The first note worthy bit of action, unsurprisingly, went Arsenal’s way with Giroud heading just over the bar after Sagna picked his fellow countryman out. Despite the visitors dominating possession in the opening exchanges, with 85% of the ball inside 8 minutes, they suffered an early blow through Flamini making way for Gnabry following what seemed like a groin problem.

Shortly after, Palace found some confidence following a counter attack that culminated in Barry Bannan’s effort hitting the roof of the net although it wasn’t the right side in terms of the Scot’ s view. However, it could have been a different story because prior to that move Damien Delaney appeared to cuddle the ball when he was on the floor although it would have been harsh, since no protests were visible from anybody. Serge Gnabry had a more convincing penalty shout later on when the German tumbled under the challenge of Delaney; the question was: was it inside the area? My verdict was that it occurred on the line which means that it is a penalty but it was difficult to call in real time without the luxury of replays.

The passion still existed from the fans, more so than ever, with a sell out that produced a rocking atmosphere in the hope of inspiring their team to emulate Arsenal. However unlikely it seemed, the hosts were responding to the supporters and (though they were nowhere near equalling the possession stats) they were slowly showing their credentials with a few shots on goal, more so than their opponents. The early goal that Wenger craved failed to come despite the intricate passing, so I’d guess that he would have been grateful for going into the interval all square.

The Gunners were struggling to deal with the physicality of Chamakh who won the majority of the headers he went in for. Also most of the chances created by the Eagles came just outside the box where Flamini would have been, so his presence was clearly missed.

Keith Millen had the worst start possible to the second half since Arsenal finally received a spot kick from the crunching tackle on Gnabry made by Guedioura. Mikel Arteta coolly slotted home regardless of Speroni guessing the right way. Some of the swagger reappeared in Arsenal’s play, partly due to Ozil and Giroud having the opportunity to influence the game more by combining to pick out the holes between the four defenders. This was short lived dominance taking into consideration Crystal Palace regrouped and the high pressure tactic, that gave no player in yellow time to think, resumed.

When the home side won the ball back, they looked to break and one counter resulted in the goalscorer Arteta sent off. Marouane Chamakh, who caused all sorts of problems all day, sped towards Szczesny’s goal from forty yards before being brought down by the Spaniard. The Moroccan forward was the last man, but from forty yards from goal is it a clear goalscoring opportunity? I will let you decide.

This signalled the start of more Palace belief with more efforts at goal, most notably Jedinak’s powerful volley forcing the Pole in between the sticks to make a one handed save. As a result of this immense pressure, Arsene Wenger took off substitute Gnabry for Jack Wilshere to add more stability in the centre of the park plus introducing Monreal for Cazorla.

Wenger’s tactics worked because this allowed Ramsey and co to express themselves. Yet again Olivier Giroud netted in a London derby after getting on the end of a cheeky, teasing dink by Aaron Ramsey picked out the Frenchman’s head that ultimately not only killed the game; knocked the stuffing out of the opposition including the fans.

Match rating: 8/10

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