Arsenal got their year off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace. Goals from Olivier Giroud and Alex Iwobi sealed the victory.
Arsenal began the day in 5th place after Tottenham’s victory at Watford knocked them out of the top 4. Knowing only a victory would do, the Gunners did deliver.
Arsenal made three changes to the side that started against West Bromwich with Lucas Perez, Nacho Monreal and Mohammed ElNeny all coming in for Mesut Ozil, Kieran Gibbs and Francis Coquelin respectively.
Arsenal began the game like they should and could have gone ahead in the early minutes if the players involved had come with their scoring boots.
In the 6th minutes, Arsenal had another chance to get their noses in front and how they managed not to is still a mystery. Xhaka sent in a low pass to Monreal on the left who sends a low cross back to an unmarked Giroud at the near post. The Frenchman didn’t make contact which was weird, and weirder is the fact that Lucas who was on the other side of the goal failed to make contact too.
The Frenchman however atoned for his earlier miss with a wonder goal similar to that of Manchester United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s strike against Sunderland.
Lucas won the ball outside the Arsenal box, Bellerin got on the ball, spread a pass to Xhaka whose lovely pass was beautifully flicked to Iwobi by Giroud. Iwobi sprung a forward pass to Alexis Sanchez whose cross was wonderfully ‘scorpioned’ in by Giroud. And he wasn’t offside.
Arsenal continued probing but couldn’t increase their lead in the first half. Elneny, Giroud and Perez all guilty of missed chances.
Palace’s only chance of the first half was from Cabaye and his shot was easily gathered by Petr Cech.
Arsenal headed into half time 1 nil up and maintained their run of being the only side not to be losing a PL game at half-time this season so far.
Arsenal began the second half the same way they did the first but it was Palace who had the first attempt. Puncheon sent in a beautiful cross to Benteke who got the better of Hector Bellerin but couldn’t direct his header towards goal.
Perez and Sanchez had a chance to increase the Gunners tally but the chances came to nothing. The Gunners however got their second, courtesy of a scrappy goal bby Alex Iwobi, but they wouldn’t mind.
Nacho Monreal’s cross was badly cleared by Scott Dann. Alex Iwobbi took advantage of that howler to nod home his first goal of the new year.
The goal brought Palace to life and could have had a goal of their own but for Petr Cech. Arsenal also had other chances to increase their lead but the wouldn’t mind. The game had been won by then.
The Gunners now have a trip to Jack Wilshere’s Bournemouth on Tuesday and they fully know what’s expected of them.
Until then, Come on You Gunners.