Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 1
( Koscielny 45+ Ramsey 90+ Hangeland 35)

Arsenal won their opening home game of the Premirship season for the first time in six years, as Aaron Ramsey continued his fine form with a late winner over a dogged Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. The visitors had taken a shock lead ten minutes before the break, when Brede Hangeland was given too much room from a corner and duly headed past Wojciech Szczesny for the opener. The Gunners fired back in first half time added on when Alexis Sanchez sent over a free kick, weighted just enough for Laurent Koscielny to loop a low header past Julian Speroni.

Palace held firm deep into the second half and thought they had done enough to secure a point. However a late second yellow card for Jason Puncheon for a foul on substitute Nacho Monreal reduced them to ten men, and as the Gunners pushed for the winner, up popped Ramsey to tuck in from six yards after Speroni failed to hold Mathieu Debuchy’s initial effort.

After the game, Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger was happy with the three points, and applauded the Palace effort, while conceding that his side’s fitness still needs to be worked on.

” Yes of course we will need that. I believe that our attitude was right, on our fluency we can do better, but that will come. Let’s get everybody physically ready. Having said that, you could see that Crystal Palace played with the same organisation as last year, when they changed the situation from a relegation team to finishing 11th in the Premier League. They were physically very strong and they added some height with Hangeland and he scored a goal,” said Wenger.

The Arsenal manager was critical of the Palace time wasting tactics, which actually started with just 15 minutes on the clock. Shocked by the departure of Tony Pulis 36 hours before the big kick off, Palace were strong and organised enough to take the lead, to shock the Emirates crowd. That was definitely not in Wenger’s plan he later conceded.

“The plan was to win the game, but because of the physicality and organisation level of Crystal Palace, it was very difficult for us. Why? Because we conceded a goal on the first corner they had. We lacked a bit of pace in the final third to change what we built up into dangerous situations.

“But it was enough to win the game and win the three points. You could see that for the first game of the season, nobody won at home, we were the only team that won at home. So that shows you that it’s difficult for everybody on the first day of the season. We got the three points we wanted, now let’s focus on Besiktas.”

Dogged in defence, Palace were content to sit back and allow the Gunners the early possession. A dangerous tactic in normal circumstances, but given the varied early season fitness levels of the players, it proved to be effective. Sanchez is getting better acquitted with the demands of the Premiership, and will get better the more he plays. Wenger sent out the same side which comfortably saw off Manchester City in last weekend’s Community Shield, preferring to start with Yaya Sanogo I attack, with Olivier Giroud in the bench.

Arsenal had an early shout for a penalty when Scott Dann appeared to impede Ramsey, but referee Jon Moss wasn’t convinced. The Gunners’ first shot in anger came just on the half hour mark, Jack Wilshere hitting low at Speroni’s goal, which the Palace ‘keeper had to save.

Former Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh almost put Palace in the lead after Szczesny’s wayward clearance fell to his former team mate. The Morocco striker let fly from 35 yards, the shot was on target and had beaten Szczesny, until that is Koscielny blocked it’s path.

It was poor marking from the resultant corner which enabled Hangeland to rise and head in after 35 minutes. After being tasked with marking the Norwegian, but letting him drift, Sanchez may need to get more than a fleeting grip on his defensive duties.

No matter however as ten minutes later the Chile striker would make amends. Before that we had the first instalment of the referee’s shaving foam spray three minutes before the break. Santi Cazorla got an inadvertent spurt in his direction before Jon Moss found the right consistency to spray on the pitch.

When Palace conceded a free kick, in first half time added on, Sanchez’s clever delivery caught out the Palace defence, enabling Koscielny to head home the equaliser. That stung the Gunners into trying to create a half time lead, but their follow up possession would not be rewarded.

Wenger wasn’t able to select from his trio of German World Cup winners, with Mesut Özil, Lukas Podolski and Per Merterscker only due to be in the running for the trip to Goodison Park at the earliest. In his current form, it would be hard to shift 19 year old Calum Chambers, who has struck up a good central defensive partnership with Koscielny, and looks very comfortable with and without possession.

Arsenal pushed for the lead after the break. Sanchez worked a neat one-two with Cazorla but couldn’t find a clean contact with his shot after 69 minutes, and three minutes later Ramsey’s effort lacked power to trouble Speroni.

Kieran Gibbs was forced off with a hamstring injury, his replacement Nacho Monreal worked an opening for Giroud, but the France striker was just inches away from contact. With five minutes remaining, Sanchez played in Giroud and his low strike fizzed across the area with no Arsenal player close to apply the killer strike.

Five minutes of time added on was announced, as Arsenal poured forward. Cazorla found his captain Mikel Arteta who then played in Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right. The England man crossed for firstly Koscielny and then Giroud to head on, without any power.

When the ball fell to Debuchy, his shot was struck powerfully into the ground which confused Speroni who could only parry the ball. There at the right place and at the right time, Ramsey found the target, slamming the loose ball in for the Arsenal winner to register three hard worn points to get Arsenal off to a winning start.

“That shows you that there is no coincidence in scoring goals,” noted Wenger on Ramsey’s late winner.

“He turned up where you need to be in the box. He scored last Sunday, he scored again today and at a very important moment of the game.”

Wenger also praised Sanchez on his performance, knowing that we will see a lot more from his record signing.

“I am very happy with his attitude because he kept on fighting for 90 minutes, even if he is not completely ready physically. Tactically he needs to improve his understanding with his partners but he looked lively and dangerous until the end. I’m happy with his overall attitude and performance.”