HALF-TIME SUMMARY

Arsenal cannot prise open the Palace defence during a goalless first half.

SETTING THE SCENE

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the most newsworthy player in terms of team selection. The 20-year-old started his first Premier League game since the opening day of the campaign. He was stationed in central midfield as a replacement for Mathieu Flamini, who had been sent off against Southampton in midweek.

The other change was German-for-German on the left – Lukas Podolski replacing Serge Gnabry.

Gedion Zalalem, aged 17 years and seven days, was on the bench.

Palace had made a number of signings just before the transfer window closed. But the only ones on show today were Jason Puncheon, who had been on loan at Selhurst Park all season anyway, and keeper Wayne Hennessey, who was on the bench.

FIRST HALF

The opening stages were lively but ragged. The first 15 minutes was punctuated by a scare at either end.

Mesut Ozil hoisted a ball over the Palace defence. Though the galloping Nacho Monreal collected the ball in his stride, Julian Speroni raced out to smother as the Spaniard tried to get his shot away.

Then, at the other end, Marouane Chamakh burst clear momentarily but could only shoot tamely at Wojciech Szczesny.

It was an isolated involvement for the Pole as Arsenal would boss the game.

Palace would try to use the pace of Yannick Bolasie on the left both to counter and relieve relentless Arsenal pressure.

However, while the home side enjoyed almost 80 per cent of the possession and camped just outside the Palace area, Speroni was barely tested.

As expected, the visitors came with a resolute organisation; the very faculty that had seen them climb out of the relegation recently after a horrible start.

This looked like an afternoon of attrition for Arsenal.

On 34 minutes, Speroni made a fine sprawling save after Ozil’s free-kick had got the merest touch off the head of Laurent Koscielny.

It appeared that set pieces were Arsenal’s best hope in the first half. By the time the whistle went, they had conjured up four shots in the first 45 minutes, three from dead-ball situations.

Arsenal

1
Szczesny
4
Mertesacker Yellow Card
3
Sagna
18
Monreal
6
Koscielny
8
Arteta
19
Cazorla
15
Oxlade-Chamberlain Goal! Goal!
11
Ozil 84
12
Giroud 84
9
Podolski 72

Substitutes

21
Fabianski
25
Jenkinson
3
Gibbs 84
58
Zelalem
44
Gnabry
7
Rosicky 72
23
Bendtner 84

Crystal Palace

1
Speroni
4
Parr
27
Delaney Yellow Card
2
Ward
19
Gabbidon
7
Bolasie
15
Jedinak
8
Dikgacoi
13
Puncheon
30
Jerome 56
29
Chamakh 83 Yellow Card

Substitutes

26
Hennessey
5
McCarthy
3
Mariappa
31
Guedioura
46
Bannan 56
16
Gayle 83
18
Wilbraham
Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source Richard Clarke 2 Feb 2014