We were ultimately rewarded for some brilliant attacking play in an enthralling game at Selhurst Park, but survived a big second-half scare along the way.
Shkodran Mustafi gave us a deserved lead in a dominant first-half performance, but the momentum shifted soon after the restart when Andros Townsend scored what had seemed an unlikely equaliser.
All of a sudden the Gunners needed to dig in, and stand firm in the face of the home side's renewed confidence.
But two superbly-taken goals in the space of five minutes from Alexis Sanchez put us back in charge. James Tomkins headed a late goal from a corner, to ensure a nervy period of injury-time, but we were good value for the win.
Arsène Wenger's men had looked full of running and invention from the opening stages. Granit Xhaka, perhaps encouraged by his effort against Liverpool on Friday, tried a shot from similar range on 10 minutes, but this one was watched over the bar by Julian Speroni.
For the hosts, the in-form Wilfried Zaha was looking to run at Hector Bellerin on the left wing at every opportunity. In fact both sides were looking sharp going forward, but gradually the Gunners began to take over.
Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette were buzzing around the Palace back four, making incisive runs behind the defence. All that was missing was the finish.
Then midway through the half, the breakthrough came. Alexandre Lacazette shaped to cross from inside the area, but then curled a shot at goal that Speroni could only parry, and Mustafi finished well from a tight angle.
It was a richly-deserved lead for the Gunners. We had been attacking with real energy and purpose, and carried on in the same vein after scoring. Lacazette struck an effort wide while Ozil so nearly finished a delightful move, latching onto an Alexis return pass but having his shot smothered by the keeper.
The only frustration was that we hadn’t converted our territorial dominance and overwhelming possession into a second goal.
You felt the one-goal lead wouldn't be enough, and so it proved early in the second half. Zaha broke away once again down the left flank, pulled the ball back to Townsend unmarked in the area to stroke home left-footed.
It came out of nothing, and completely changed the complexion of the game. Palace were visibly buoyed by the equaliser, and could have taken the lead when Ruben Loftus-Cheek broke into the box, but his shot was blocked.
We suddenly found ourselves on the back foot, and had to withstand 10 minutes or so of Palace pressure. But Alexis found the perfect response on the hour mark. Lacazette knocked the ball down to the Chilean just inside the area and he simply powered the ball home first time inside the post.
Another moment of magic from Alexis finally gave us the two-goal cushion. Jack Wilshere played a wonderful long pass through to the forward who cushioned it on his thigh, then tucked the ball home just inside the post.
Ozil thumped an effort over as we began to reassert ourselves once again.
Palace - unbeaten since September at home, rallied late on, and pulled one back from James Tomkins, but the points were safe.
WHAT IT MEANS
This fixture completed the Boxing Day round of fixtures, and means we have now played every other premier League side at least once. The win keeps us in sixth place, now level on points with Tottenham and one point behind Liverpool, who are fourth.
We conclude 2017 with a trip to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, with a 4.30pm kick-off on New Year's Eve. The Baggies are currently in 19th-place, with just two league wins all season, but they won the corresponding fixture 3-1 last season.
This was Arsène Wenger's 810th league game in charge of the Gunners, equalling the record for most Premier League matches as a manager.
Here are some of the stats from the boss's time in the English football league…
- Of the 810 games, he has won 468, drawn 197, lost 145, scored 1,524 and conceded 781.
- His first game was against Blackburn Rovers, on October 12, 1996. Ian Wright scored twice in a 2-0 victory at Ewood Park.
- He has beaten Everton 28 times in the league, more often than any other team.
- The most common scoreline has been 1-0 to the Arsenal (recorded 88 times)
- Dennis Bergkamp made the most appearances (277) and Thierry Henry scored the most goals (175)
- The manager with the next most league games as Gunners boss is Bertie Mee (420)
- Arsène has beaten more Premier League sides (46) than any other manager in history.
- Arsène's record Premier League win is 7-0, recorded twice – v Everton in 2005 and Middlesbrough in 2006.
- The 810 matches include a 49-game unbeaten run in 2003-04 which remains the longest in the history of English league football.
- The boss has won three Premier League titles with Arsenal (1998, 2002 and 2004).
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