Crystal Palace 1 Arsenal 2
( Murray 90, Cazorla 8 pen, Giorud 45 )

Arsenal survived a scare from a late second half Crystal Palace offensive, to claim all the points at Selhurst Park. It needn’t have been that way for the Gunners who raced into an 8th minute lead when Santi Cazorla slotted home from the penalty spot. The penalty was awarded when Palace debutant Pape Souare who was dispossessed by Danny Welbeck. As Welbeck sped away, Souare caught the England man, and after consulting his assistant, referee Mark Clattenburg pointed to the penalty spot. Olivier Giroud then doubled Arsenal’s advantage just before the break, reacting the fastest to a Welbeck shot which Julian Speroni failed to hold. Comfortable and facing what appeared to be a routine win, the Gunners were made to dig deep as a re-energised Palace launched their late offensive which firstly saw Glen Murray score, and then in time added on, head onto David Ospina’s upright. But despite the late drama, Arsenal held on for a crucial win which sees them rise into third place in the Premier League.

Arsene Wenger conceded that there may have been an element of luck in his side’s win but paid tribute to his players.

” it was about fighting and playing. Crystal Palace are a team who played with high intensity, a very direct game and for us it was important to resist and try to play. We did that well but at 2-0 at half-time we came out in the second half much more to protect our advantage than to continue to play and put them under pressure. We missed goal number three and when they came back to 2-1 we were a bit lucky, a bit fortunate. Overall we did fight and it was in the end a very important win for us,” said Wenger.

It is never an easy away day at Selhurst Park, Liverpool know only too well what can happen when a raucous home crowd, seated very close to the pitch, and one which can make matters difficult for the visitors even when they are in the ascendency as Arsenal were here.

Souare made the wrong choice when he dallied with the ball. Welbeck needed no second invitation to dispossess the new Palace man and race towards Speroni’s goal. Souare was adjudged to have caught Welbeck in the area as he tried to atone for his error. Cazorla sent the Palace keeper the wrong way from the spot kick.

Palace saw a lot of the ball but Ospina was little troubled in the opening exchanges. Wilfried Zaha and Jason Puncheon supplied the crosses but there was no end product from the home side. Alexis Sanchez then started the move which would double the Arsenal lead. He found Welbeck who shot at Speroni but as the Palace ‘keeper parried the ball, Giroud was the first to react to find the target from close in.

Palace came out strong for the second half with Zaha showing real, menace going forwards. However it was the Gunners who should’ve got a third of the afternoon. Mesut Ozil saw his header clip the Palace bar from Sanchez’s cross and soon the duo’s defensive duty was being needed. Palace however almost fell further behknd from a swift counter attack. Ozil held up the ball well before finding Sanchez. The Chilean surged forwards however he clipped his shot agonisingly wide of Speroni’s upright.

Jason Puncheon’s free kick flew just wide of Ospina’s upright, and Dwight Gayle’s header went just over the bar. But finally with time running out, Murray was able to scramble in from close range. Yet amazingly in the 4th minute of the six of time added on, Murray headed Yannick Bolasie’s cross onto the woodwork, which all meant that Arsenal left South London with the win and Wenger with a few worries over his side’s second half display.

” We can learn from every game. I believe that the players know that maybe they switched off a little bit too early. Overall I still must say that our central defenders played very well today against a very direct and a very physical game at the back. They did well so overall I’m pleased to have won three points in a place like this. We know now that we have played two more away games ( than home games ) and it will be down to how strong we are at home. I feel quite strong and let’s just continue to fight and be tight until the end,” noted Wenger.

Arsenal next face AS Monaco at the Emirates stadium in the Champions League last 16 first leg. A strong win there will set up the Gunners nicely in the crucial latter stages of the season.