Arsenal travelled to Selhurst Park and took all 3 points against Crystal Palace to move up to 3rd place. However, it wasna t all that easy and a late surge from Palace almost won them a point, and it was only the post that got Arsenal off the hook. Here are a few things we learnt from the game.
For a long time in Arsene Wengera s time at Arsenal, one of the constant cribs that one could hear was how the gunners have no clue how to win ugly. Sure, they are always an entertaining team to watch, but when the opposition was tough on them or physical, Arsenal have shown a propensity to crumble under the pressure and lose valuable points. But now, the gunners seem to have found their ugly side. Both the games against Leicester and Palace were ones that they would have lost in the past, but this time, they have held on, clearing the balls out of defence rather than dilly-dallying on it. If Arsenal can do this when required, they may actually end up finishing 3rd this time.
Crystal Palace home form
Ever since Alan Pardew took up the reins at Crystal Palace, the Eagles have been in great form and had moved up to 13th place before this game. However, most of their wins have come in away games, while their home form is still pathetic. They have only won 3 home games and lost 7 of them. Even though they seem to be far away from the relegation battle, if their home form does not improve, especially with games against Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Southampton coming up, they might end up having to fight to stay up for another season. Tony Pulis had made Selhurst Park a fortress last season, and that has to happen sooner rather than later for Palace to remain comfortable.
It was an 8th consecutive start for Francis Coquelin since his return from a loan spell at Charlton, and he has been the rock in the centre of midfield that the Arsenal team had been crying out for so long. Once again, he was instrumental in ensuring that none of the opposition attacks through the middle resulted in any danger. As with Leicester, Coquelin ensured that he broke up attacks and did not let Palace have any freedom to move the ball quickly. For most of the game, the Eagles had to go wide to get forward, and with their wingers unable to make good of the opportunities, Arsenal were never really in any trouble, right up until the end. Coquelin has improved by leaps and bounds in the last couple of months, and has taken the opportunity given to him with both hands.
One of the positives that Crystal Palace can take from this game is the wing play. Throughout the game, Wilfried Zaha was a constant in the back for Nacho Monreal as he constantly beat him for pace and power. However, Zaha was guilty many a times for not making use of the ball, choosing to do it alone instead of crossing into the box or getting his teammates involved. When he did cross, it was more or less an ineffective one and either the Arsenal defence headed it away or it was an easy take for the goalkeeper. Bolasie was another bright spot for Palace yesterday, having an impact on the game as soon as he came on. He was unlucky that his cross to Murray was only denied by the post, but he showed that he can be a real handful. Pardew has good options there and it would be up to him to make full use of them both.
Santi Cazorla and Danny Welbeck
Santi Cazorla has been in fine form for Arsenal and although he played a little deeper in midfield today, he did have an impact on the game, only not as much in the previous ones when he played in the number 10 role. But Arsenal fans would be happy that the Spaniard is with them, even though it means that Jack Wilshere will have an even harder time getting back into the team. Another player who has shown his worth for the gunners is Danny Welbeck. He had good movement throughout the game, and was responsible for both the goals, winning the penalty and taking the initial shot that provided the deflection for Olivier Giroud to turn into goal for his 50th for Arsenal.