XHAKA’S NO ONE-HIT WONDER
Granit Xhaka’s always had a thing for long-range strikes, but until this season he hadn’t scored a free-kick for us. That changed at Newcastle with a bolt from the blue to set up a comfortable away win - and he was at it again at Selhurst Park with an even better effort. You’d have backed Granit to fizz the ball across the box from the corner of the penalty area, looking for a decisive touch from a teammate, but instead he blasted it into the top corner. He had one more attempt, a stoppage-time effort that flew over the crossbar, and he’s suddenly become our go-to guy when we’re in range from a dead-ball situation - especially when Mesut Ozil isn’t on the pitch.
LACA GETS LUCKY
In real time, Unai Emery didn’t see Alex Lacazette’s inadvertent handball that set up our second goal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. “I need to see more evidence,” he said afterwards, and that’s understandable given his vantage point on the touchline. But anyone who saw the replays knows that Laca’s hand provided the knockdown for Auba. Goalline technology came to our aid, proving that Auba’s finish had just crossed the line, but the absence of VAR meant that technology did not come to Palace’s aid. The debate over whether we should have VAR in the Premier League will intensify - but Palace might wish it was already here.
SLOW STARTS, STRONG RESPONSES
Our impressive winning run came to an end at Selhurst Park, but our unbeaten run stands at a healthy dozen. However, we’ve still not led a single Premier League game at half-time this season. Eight times we’ve been level and twice - including on Sunday - we’ve trailed our opponents. Fortunately we’ve been rejuvenated in the second half, time and time again. On this occasion Granit Xhaka provided the spark with a stunning free-kick and, although we got lucky with our second goal, the momentum was all with us at that point. Palace had the final word but our powers of recovery after the first half were impressive.
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