Crystal Palace 2 Arsenal 3
Townsend 49, Tomkins 89, Mustafi 25, Sánchez 62, 66

Arsenal secured only their third away day Premier League win of the season with a hard earned win at Crystal Palace. Shkodran Mustfai put the Gunners in the lead going into the break, only for Andros Townsend to score to draw Palace level four minutes after the restart. With their tails up, Palace appeared to be making Arsenal rue their lack of converting their other first half chances when Mesut Ozil twice went close. However, Alexis Sanchez struck twice in four minutes to increase the Gunners lead firstly when converting from Alexandre Lacazette’s lay off, and then the Chile striker grabbed his second and Arsenal’s third when Jack Wilshere found him with a defence splitting 30 yard pass.

Alexis took one touch to control and then another touch to strike past Julian Speroni to make it 3-1. Palace however came back again when James Tomkins headed in from a corner late on to reduce the arrears to a single goal again. Arsenal however had done enough to to claim the win at Selhurst Park where, with their continuous vocal backing you feel that Palace are always in with a chance.

At the final whistle, talk focussed on why there was an absence of some Arsenal players running over to celebrate Alexis’s first goal which made the score 2-1 to the Gunners. While Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Granit Xhaka were among those who celebrated with Alexis, other Arsenal players remained in their half. Clearly the talk of the future absence of a key player in Arsene Wenger’s side has upset the dressing room equilibrium as well as fan sentiment. Alexis’s quality is undeniable but he can talk to overseas clubs in January and also leave on a free in the summer to any Premier League rivals who express an interest in him.

Wenger has insisted that both he and Mesut Ozil want to stay at Arsenal. Had the Gunners been close to the Premier League summit, the duo could’ve been persuaded with massive financial incentives. Should that be enough for them, any top future ambition will now have to be for next season. Will that be enough for them? Also of concern will be Wilshere’s contract. That maybe the easier of the contract conundrums to resolve which face Wenger at the moment.

Following the win over Palace, Wenger reflected on an eventual mission accomplished.

” Overall I think it was a very good, positive performance. We were fluid going forward and controlled the game well. At half-time it was 1-0, but it should have been more and then of course at some stage the home team who fights against relegation will come at you, and we started well in the second half in the first five minutes. I thought we had two good chances and after it was just down to 1-1, then we showed resources and character, were leading 3-1 and controlled the game quite well, but at 3-2 we became quite nervy again and we finished in a bit of a less controlled way, but overall it was a good team performance.”

Wenger confirmed that Alexis met his family but not in Chile, with many suggesting the meeting took place in Paris, thus fuelling the speculation that Paris Saint Germain may come in for him in January. Wenger was not able to clarify any future plans with his Chile striker.

” First of all nobody knows what will happen and it’s always difficult to speculate. At the moment we are focused on the short term, the short term is win the next game with the players who are committed and ready to fight. It’s not a guarantee how long you will stay somewhere – as long you are somewhere you give your best.

” I felt he was very good tonight, from the first minute on he was focused, he was simple again. This kind of Alexis is a good player, we know him and that’s the kind of performance you want from him.”

Arsenal have their final game of 2017, another tough away day at the Hawthorns where as at Palace, Wenger will look to avenge last season’s Premier League loss to a West Bromwich Albion side who are still looking for a first win under new boss Alan Pardew. With Alexis and Wilshere especially in this kind of mood, Arsenal could be in line to finish 2017 on a high.