Crystal Palace v Arsenal –
Final Score/Result: Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal
Man Of The Match: Bacary Sagna
Arsenal FC maintained place at the top of the table with a hard fought win over Crystal Palace.
Crystal Palace came into this game in a state of crisis. They were down in the relegation zone, conceding goals, struggling to score them and without a permanent manager. But the newly promoted side put in a good performance at home against the league leaders, although Arsenal’s superior quality shined through in the end.
Interim manager Keith Millen made a lot of changes to the starting line-up for this game and it was chance for a lot of players to prove a point. Arsenal, who came into this game on the back of a defeat at the hands of Borussia Dortmund in the midweek, dominated possession from the start of the game, but failed to create too many openings against a very organised Crystal Palace side. The midfield was very congested, especially in front of the Stoke defence and the likes of Ozil and Cazorla didn’t find too much space to weave their magic. Arsenal had to make an early substitution in that half as Mathieu Flamini was replaced by Gnabry to fitness concerns.
In the second half, Gnabry made an immediate impact as he got into the box with the ball and was fouled by Adlene Guedioura. The referee pointed to the spot and Mikel Arteta stepped up to convert it with aplomb. Arsenal continued to dominate possession but Crystal Palace had their moments as well, but the game really changed after the sending off of Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard received his marching orders after challenging Marouane Chamakh, when the former Arsenal striker was through on goal and Arteta was the last man in defence.
Crystal Palace pushed hard to get an equaliser as they moved bodies forward. Szczesny pulled off some good saves in the game, but his save against the volley of Jedinak was certainly one of the most crucial point the game. Despite their endeavour Crystal Palace failed to score past Arsenal and in the end they left too many bodies upfront and Arsenal killed off the game with a second goal. Olivier Giroud, who worked extremely hard throughout the match, scored through a header as Aaron Ramsey picked him up with delightful ball.
Arsene Wenger was delighted with the performance of his side and their determination to grab the win despite going down to 10-men.
“We showed a lot of resilience and patience and good organisation against a team who were really up for it. It was a very convincing win because when we were down to 10 men we mastered the situation quite well.
“They came at us and we dealt well with the long balls. Every time we came out in the last 15 minutes it looked like we could score, and we got one with two minutes to go, which was a relief, and gives us three important points.”
“It’s a bit early but it’s nice to be there [at the top of the Barclays Premier League]. It’s good as well for the character of the team to respond after the disappointment of Tuesday night.” – The Arsenal manager told the press.
But Arsene Wenger was adamant that the referee’s decision to send off Mikel Arteta was wrong. Arsenal are likely to appeal against it.
“I honestly thought the referee got the decision totally wrong.
“Arteta was not the last man and it has to be a clean goal scoring opportunity. Chamakh was very far from goal and the foul was an accident.” – Wenger added.
Crystal Palace v Arsenal – Statistics
Bacary Sagna’s long term future at the Emirates might remain in doubts, but the Frenchman showed once again why Arsene Wenger is desperate to retain him. The Frenchman produced his best performance of the season against Crystal Palace, as he controlled the right flank of the Gunners. Sagna made five clearances, two vital tackles and produced six telling crosses. He also made 78 passes in the match, which was the third highest among the Arsenal players – incredible number for a right back.