Post-Match Report

Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal - Report

Crystal Palace -

Selhurst Park
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
  Crystal Palace
      
              Joel Ward (28)
          
   crest
Crystal Palace
Joel Ward (28)
1 2
  Arsenal
      
                  Giroud (16)
                   Damien Delaney (55 og)
            
   crest
Arsenal
Giroud (16)
Damien Delaney (55 og)

By Chris Harris at Selhurst Park

SUMMARY

Arsenal are up and running in the Premier League thanks to a deserved win at Crystal Palace.

The visitors showed glimpses of their fluent best in the first half and capped their domination with a delicious strike from Olivier Giroud, the Frenchman volleying Mesut Ozil's cross into the bottom corner.

Palace could have been out of the game by the half-hour mark but they levelled against the run of play through Joel Ward's fine effort, and Connor Wickham hit the post shortly after the restart.

But Arsenal always had that extra bit of quality and they restored their advantage when Damien Delaney diverted Alexis' header past his own goalkeeper.

It was a scrappy goal to win a compelling game but this was just what Arsenal needed after last weekend's false start against West Ham United.

It's taken a week longer than planned, but Arsene Wenger's side have points on the board.

SETTING THE SCENE

Wenger made two changes for Arsenal's second game of the campaign.

Alexis, who the manager admitted would be "difficult to stop" once he returned from his summer break, was promoted from the bench in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Hector Bellerin, back from injury, got the nod over Mathieu Debuchy.

Perhaps of more significance was a positional tweak that saw Santi Cazorla return to central midfield to reprise his partnership with Francis Coquelin. Aaron Ramsey started on the right - although he would regularly drift inside in a fluid Arsenal formation.

The Gunners' defeat to West Ham - a performance at odds with their scintillating pre-season form - saw them go into a third straight London derby with an early point to prove and some catching up to do.

And this looked a tricky test against an upwardly-mobile, pacy Palace side that has added genuine quality over the summer and saw off Norwich City in their season opener.

FIRST HALF

Arsenal's rather listless display against West Ham was soon a fading memory as Wenger's side attacked with pace and penetration from the off.

Ramsey was regularly the spare man, coming inside from the right and making runs beyond the Palace defence. His first burst into the box ended with a cut-back that Giroud couldn't quite convert.

Alexis was next to go close after a quicksilver Arsenal break. The Chilean collected Mesut Ozil's pass but delayed his shot, eventually seeing his first effort blocked. Alexis was first to the loose ball and beat goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, only for James McArthur to clear off the line.

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Ramsey and Alexis tested McCarthy again as Arsenal poured forward and it was no surprise when the visitors took the lead.

The goal was a spectacular one, Ozil crossing from the left and Giroud adjusting his body brilliantly to volley into the bottom corner. It was the Frenchman's third goal in five appearances against Palace - all scored at Selhurst Park.

Arsenal hunted for more. Alexis, popping up all over the front line, stretched McCarthy with a low shot that was tipped away before Ward hacked clear.

Ward then intervened at the other end, conjuring up an equaliser against the run of play. There seemed little danger when he lined up a shot from 25 yards but Ward hit it superbly, fizzing the ball past Petr Cech.

Arsenal were rocked but regrouped quickly, and soon enough the chances began to flow again. Ramsey flicked the best of them at McCarthy and Cazorla scooped a shot over the bar as the visitors ended the half strongly.

SECOND HALF

Palace were first to show in the second half and were inches away from the lead when Wickham volleyed Wilfried Zaha's cross against the post with Cech beaten.

Arsenal needed to dig in but they re-exerted some control with a flowing move that saw Alexis find Ramsey and the Welshman try to pick out Giroud at the back post. His attempted pass was diverted behind for a corner.

Ramsey, still getting into scoring positions himself, tried his luck with a left-footed shot from Cazorla's short pass.

In the end a Palace defender did Arsenal's job for them. Alexis was the catalyst, showing huge desire to win a header that was drifting just wide of goal before Delaney stuck out a leg to divert the ball past McCarthy.

Jason Puncheon stole a march on Bellerin to test Cech with a low effort while Ramsey's venomous shot on the turn whistled just over following a deft, lofted pass from Ozil.

Coquelin had been a signficant influence but - on a yellow card and in the heat of the battle - he made way for Oxlade-Chamberlain. Mikel Arteta then replaced Alexis as Wenger looked for some insurance.

Palace had their chances to snatch a point, substitutes Jordon Mutch and Chung-yong Lee getting into good positions. But their best chance fell to Ward, whose firm header was gratefully held by Cech.

Referee: Lee Mason
Attendance: 24732