Crystal Palace v Arsenal

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Press conference

Wenger - Wilshere and Alexis responded well

Arsène Wenger believes our victory over Crystal Palace was based on a team performance, but he also had time to praise two of our star performers.

Alexis scored his first brace of the season - the second set up by a fine Jack Wilshere pass - and the boss is pleased to see full commitment from the pair, who are both in the final year of their contracts.

on the performance…
Overall I think it was a very good, positive performance. We were fluid going forward and controlled the game well. At half-time it was 1-0, but it should have been more and then of course at some stage the home team who fights against relegation will come at you, and we started well in the second half in the first five minutes. I thought we had two good chances and after it was just down to 1-1, then we showed resources and character, were leading 3-1 and controlled the game quite well, but at 3-2 we became quite nervy again and we finished in a bit of a less controlled way, but overall it was a good team performance.

on Jack Wilshere and Alexis…
They are always questioned – people when they don't have long contracts – but the best way to show that they are committed is to deliver that kind of performance. For Jack I think we spoke about him recently, he’s coming back in a good competitive shape and I feel that he gives something to the team at the moment that is very interesting. On top of that today he gave a great final ball that you want from him.

on whether Alexis went to Paris over Christmas…
That’s true. We had two days off on the 24th and 25th that was public, but he did not go to Chile. He met his family somewhere but not in Chile.

on Wilshere’s contract…
The situation is that we will sit down with him. The beginning of January it’s planned.

on whether there has been a delay…
There is no delay, I said we would sort out the situation in December at the end. I told him that we want to meet and sit down with him to talk about the future. That’s what I did, but now we play today, Sunday and Wednesday, so at the moment the focus has to be on the game. At the beginning of January we will [sit down].

on Alexis’ performance…
I felt he was very good tonight, from the first minute on he was focused, he was simple again. This kind of Alexis is a good player, we know him and that’s the kind of performance you want from him.

on Alexis’ long-term commitment…
First of all nobody knows what will happen and it’s always difficult to speculate. At the moment we are focused on the short term, the short term is win the next game with the players who are committed and ready to fight. It’s not a guarantee how long you will stay somewhere – as long you are somewhere you give your best.

Video

Watch Alexis’ double against Crystal Palace

We edged out Crystal Palace 3-2 at Selhurst Park, with goals from Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis securing the three points.

Mustafi slotted us into the lead midway through the first half, before the hosts pulled level shortly after the break.

A quick-fire double from Alexis, however, fired us back in front and gave us a cushion, which was key when the hosts narrowed the deficit late on through James Tomkins.

You can now watch the best of the action, including extended highlights above and a bitesize clip below.


Interview

‘It was a bit nervy… but we controlled the game’

Arsène Wenger admitted there were some nervous moments in Thursday's win over Crystal Palace, but believes that overall we were "convincing" at Selhurst Park.

We were pegged back to 1-1 in the second half, after dominating the opening 45 minutes, and then faced an injury-time rally after conceding a late header, but the boss said he was generally pleased overall with the night's work.

Here's what he told Arsenal Player after the game:

on the win…
At 3-2 of course we were a bit nervy because we have had some bad experiences here, and Crystal Palace have made some results in the final minutes of games, recently they won a game 2-1 when they were 1-0 down in the 90th minute. So overall I feel it was a bit nervy, but I'm happy with the performance we had. We controlled the game well and played in a very convincing way.

on being wary at half-time…
Of course, because we didn't take advantage of the chances we created and then they came back to 1-1. But then I think we showed real character. This team is surprising when they have their backs to the ball. Like against Liverpool, and again tonight, we find the resources to score again.

on the goals conceded being a cause for concern…
Yes, because like me you are all Arsenal fans and the only way to rest your heart is not to concede goals. Ideally that's what you want. We conceded on a corner, and from a cross, so we have a bit to analyse there.

Interview

‘I showed my striker’s instinct there!’

Skhodran Mustafi scored his second Premier League goal of the season to get us up and running against Crystal Palace on Thursday evening.

The World Cup winner was in the right place at the right time to casually stroke home after Alexandre Lacazette’s fierce strike had been parried by Julian Speroni.

Mustafi spoke to the media about his poacher’s finish, his physical battle with Christian Benteke, and the difference between a back three and back four after the game. Here’s what he had to say:

on his first away goal of the season…
I showed my striker’s instinct there! I was happy to score and it was important to go ahead because, when you come to places like this and go 1-0 down, the game becomes even more difficult. It was important to go ahead and I think that was the most crucial thing.

on how comfortable he felt in defence…
It’s always difficult when you come to places like this, when you have to adapt to different football. Our idea of football is different because we use short-passing play, but when you come here you have to adapt to their game, especially when you don’t have the ball. We did well. We conceded the first one, which was a little bit unlucky, and the second one we should have defended the corner a little bit better. Overall, we did well.

on the difference between a back three and a back four…
In defence there’s a lot of differences but it will probably take too long to explain the difference between a back three and a back four. It’s important to be focused because when you play a back four and then switch to a back three, it’s a different type of game. You have to cover different areas and there are different areas where you can play the ball. It’s important to be consistent and concentrated when you switch the system. On the other hand, it’s a strength when you can play two systems because the opponent never knows how we’re going to start or finish the game.

Interview

Wilshere - I’m feeling better with each game

Jack Wilshere continued his fine form during Thursday evening’s win over Crystal Palace.

Making his fourth consecutive Premier League appearance for us for the first time since March 2014, the England international played an inch-perfect ball over the top to set up Alexis’ second as we secured three points at Selhurst Park.

Wilshere spoke to the media after the game to discuss the character we showed against the Eagles, how easy it is to play behind Alexis and the latest on his future. Here’s what he said:

on how much character we showed to see the game out…
When you come here, it’s hard, especially this season. Roy has changed them and has been getting results as their new manager, so we knew it was going to be difficult. We knew they wanted to play long to Benteke and I think our defence dealt with it well. If one went up, we covered them and we dealt with it.

on how easy it is to play behind Alexis…
He comes to feet, spins in behind and just makes it difficult for defenders and easy for midfielders to pick passes. He makes it a lot easier and he puts it in which means I get the assist for it.

on whether he feels he’s back to his best yet…
It’s difficult to say. I was happy with my form last year and I’m probably better now. I feel better, I feel fitter and I’m getting better with each game. I’m enjoying my football. It’s another game and another three points, so I’m happy.

on whether he expects his deal to be done soon…
I spoke to the boss and he says he’s going to speak to me, so we’ll see when he speaks  to me and I’m sure it will be done.

on whether the three points feels even better away from home…
It’s a difficult place to come and you have to adapt to different types of football, and I think we did that well tonight. There was a time in the second half where they were on the front foot after they equalised, and we had to sit in to deal with it. Then we hit them twice on the counter and the game was almost over. We’re all happy.

Post-Match Report

Crystal Palace 2-3 Arsenal: How it happened

WHAT HAPPENED

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.

WHAT'S NEXT

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.

ARSENE'S RECORD

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.
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  • His first game was against Blackburn Rovers, on October 12, 1996. Ian Wright scored twice in a 2-0 victory at Ewood Park.
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  • He has beaten Everton 28 times in the league, more often than any other team.
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  • The most common scoreline has been 1-0 to the Arsenal (recorded 88 times)
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  • Dennis Bergkamp made the most appearances (277) and Thierry Henry scored the most goals (175)
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  • The manager with the next most league games as Gunners boss is Bertie Mee (420)
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  • Arsène has beaten more Premier League sides (46) than any other manager in history.
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  • Arsène's record Premier League win is 7-0, recorded twice – v Everton in 2005 and Middlesbrough in 2006.
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  • 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).
Interview

Chambers That’s the position that I like

Although he’s endured a challenging start to the season, Calum Chambers returned to the starting line up as we beat Crystal Palace 3-2 at Selhurst Park on Thursday.

The England international has been hampered with injuries in recent months, but put in a solid performance on the right side of our back three as Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis scored to seal the three points.

Following the game Chambers spoke with Arsenal Player, and here is what he had to say:

on the performance…
It was tough, they’re a quality team with a lot going forward, so it was a well-earned three points I think.

on being back in the starting XI…
It was great to be back out there, it has been a bit of a frustrating start to the season for me, having been injured for quite a lot of it, so I’m glad to be back out there and to get the 90 minutes as well. It’s really pleasing, so I just want to work on that and improve going on from there.

on whether that’s his best position on the right side of a back three…
Yes, that’s the position I like, the right side of a back three or if we play a back four then the right side of that, those are the positions I like centrally. The amount of games I get, the more experience I get and more nights like tonight it’s just great experience for the whole team really. We dug in deep and we had to fight for those three points.

on going into West Brom in a stronger state of mind…
I think so, I think we can go into West Brom with confidence from this game as it shows that we can dig in deep and we can grind out a result, so I think we go there with confidence. It’s not going to be easy, any game in this league isn’t easy so we’ll get home tonight and recover from this. 

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