SUMMARY

Aaron Ramsey struck in injury time as Arsenal came from behind to beat Crystal Palace 2-1 and start the new Premier League season in style.

Until the Welshman gleefully prodded home from close range it seemed like Arsène Wenger’s men would be frustrated by the highly-organised visitors from south London.

Arsenal were blunted before Brede Hangeland guided home from a corner on 35 minutes. But Laurent Koscielny met an Alexis Sanchez free-kick with a deft flick to equalise in first-half injury time.

The summer signing from Barcelona would lead the pursuit of a winner in the second half. But, in truth, Arsenal lacked edge this afternoon and Palace were expert at smothering their work.

In the end, it was all down to endeavour. Though not at their best, Arsenal 'kept on keeping on'.

It was just about enough.

Seconds after Jason Puncheon had been sent off in the 89th minute, Arsenal won a corner.

Palace lost a little concentration and Ramsey profited.

Not a great game, not a great performance but great spirit and desire.

Happy new season everyone.

SETTING THE SCENE

The sun was out, Emirates Stadium looked magnificent and the Arsenal were playing again – what more can you ask for?

Amid the smell of burgers and pies, there was a strong scent of optimism on the concourses before the game. Arsenal had summered well with new signings covering the majority of departures with something to spare.

Then, of course, there was Alexis.

The Chilean was arguably Arsenal’s biggest opening-day debutant since Dennis Bergkamp.

Calum Chambers and Mathieu Debuchy also made their competitive bow this afternoon. Meanwhile Yaya Sanogo was preferred over Olivier Giroud.

According to Wenger, Tony Pulis has performed a “miracle” in the second half of last season. But he had left on the eve of the current campaign.

However it was still his strong, disciplined Palace side from last term and they had added Premier League experience in the form of Hangeland and Fraizer Campbell over the summer.

Last season, Arsenal had lost to Aston Villa at this stage of the season and Palace were deceptively tough opponents for opening day.

FIRST HALF

Alexis caught the eye in the early stages by finding clever angles on the right flank and combining well with Debuchy.

But despite the intricacies of their play, Arsenal could not force an opening.

That would sum up the first half-hour.

The home side would pick away at the imposing and well-drilled Palace defence. However the visitors stood firm.

Ramsey had half a shout for a penalty when Scott Dann bundled him over and, on the half-hour, Jack Wilshere’s long-range shot was unconvincingly pushed around the post by the diving Julian Speroni.

Inbetween Arsenal huffed and puffed but could not blow down the Palace defence.

The visitors had only flashes in attack until they took the lead 10 minutes before the break.

It started when Wojciech Szczesny raced out to clear from Mile Jedinak’s through ball. His effort fell to straight to Marouane Chamakh, whose goalbound shot was scrambled away by Koscielny and Palace eventually won a corner.

Puncheon took it and Hangeland rose high at the near post to steer in a header.

Arsenal tried to raise themselves yet the goal just seemed to stiffen the visitors’ resolve.

However the home side would find something in the final seconds of the first half when Alexis floated over a free-kick and Koscielny ghosted in to score with a subtle header.

SECOND HALF

The equaliser did not change the pattern of the game.

Arsenal were on the offensive, Palace closed them down effectively.

Wenger had to replace Kieran Gibbs with Nacho Monreal early on. Then he followed that with the tactical substitution of Giroud for Sanogo.

It was energetic game yet it was stifled. Arsenal took the game to their opponents but were constantly rebuffed.

Chamakh might have been penalised for a handball in the area on the hour and the increasingly influential Alexis drove at Speroni after another give-and-go midway through the half.

Seconds later, Wenger made his last change – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Wilshere.

With 15 minutes left, Arsenal found rare width when Monreal crossed from the left and the effort flashed past Giroud’s flailing leg at the near post.

The Frenchman then drove across the face of goal as Arsenal went forward until the end.

A minute from time their cause we helped when Puncheon received a second yellow card.

Then came the winner.

A cross from Oxlade-Chamberlain, Koscielny and Giroud head on, Debuchy’s shot on the turn. Ramsey could not miss.

Relief all round.

Aaron celebrates his late winner
Aaron celebrates his late winner

Arsenal

1
Szczesny
2
Debuchy
6
Koscielny Goal!
3
Gibbs 53
21
Chambers Yellow Card
10
Wilshere 69
19
Cazorla Yellow Card
8
Arteta
16
Ramsey Goal!
17
Alexis
22
Sanogo 62

Substitutes

26
Martinez
18
Monreal 53
15
Oxlade-Chamberlain 69
34
Coquelin
28
Campbell
7
Rosicky
12
Giroud 62

Crystal Palace

1
Speroni
6
Dann 75
2
Ward
28
Ledley
4
Hangeland Goal!
34
Kelly Yellow Card
42
Puncheon Yellow Card Red Card
7
Bolasie 90
15
Jedinak
10
Campbell 85
29
Chamakh Yellow Card

Substitutes

13
Hennessey
12
O'Keefe 90
27
Delaney 75
26
McCarthy
25
Bannan
16
Gayle 85
20
Murray
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 16 Aug 2014