Three goals in a blistering 13-minute spell at the start of this game saw us blow Crystal Palace away and claim our first victory of 2018.
Nacho Monreal, back in the Arsenal team for his first appearance in close to a month, was at the heart of the action, opening the scoring and then bagging two assists.
The opener was a simple task for the Spaniard as he crept around the back post to meet Granit Xhaka’s deep corner and head in from close range.
Monreal is such a calming presence at the back, but his attacking game is underrated – and he underlined how good he can be when burst into the area and laid a cross on a plate for Alex Iwobi to poke home to double our lead.
We were passing the ball about slickly and the Emirates crowd were in fine voice, and that only increased when Monreal met another deep Xhaka corner at the back post and volleyed it across to Laurent Koscielny to bundle in.
Having struggled for form, this 13-minute burst was a welcome sight – and our fourth goal was the pick of the bunch, Mesut Ozil’s sublime backheel finding Alex Lacazette in the area, and he curled it into the bottom corner.
It was the France international’s first goal in 10 games, and just reward for the hard-working performances he has delivered in that time but neither he nor the team were prepared to settle for that.
On we continued to come, with Iwobi testing Wayne Hennessy with a firm drive and the Crystal Palace goalkeeper made a sharp save after half-time to deny the Arsenal forward again.
Petr Cech, who has been underworked all afternoon, was belatedly called into action on the hour mark to make a sprawling stop to deny Christian Benteke – but he couldn’t do anything to keep out Luka Milivojevic’s close-range volley in the closing stages.
It was the only moment of frustration of an otherwise fine afternoon’s work – and certainly not enough to take the gloss of the result. We’re up and running in 2018.
HOW IT HAPPENED
what it means
We welcome Chelsea to Emirates Stadium on Wednesday for the second leg of our Carabao Cup semi-final, with the game finely-poised after a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge.
It will be our fifth meeting with the Blues this season, having beaten them on penalties in the Community Shield and drawing both Premier League encounters.
NACHO, NACHO MAN
Nacho Monreal was back in the Arsenal team for the first time in nearly a month after recovering from injury, and he made quite an impact in the time he was on the pitch.
Here are some of his key moments:
5 – Ozil collects the ball in the area, and lays it back to Iwobi whose shot it palmed over the bar and from the resulting corner, Nacho Monreal heads in the opener
10 – Monreal does really well to pounce on a loose ball to the left of the area and race into the box, before cutting it back for Iwobi to poke in from close range
13 – Corner from Xhaka to the far post, and Monreal pops up and volleys it back across goal for Laurent Koscielny to bundle in from a couple of yards out
34 – Nacho is replaced by Ainsley Maitland-Niles after failing to run off an injury sustained in a challenge with Benteke a few minutes earlier
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