Arsenal FC secured their first win of the new Premier League season against an inspired Crystal Palace side. The Gunners took an early lead through Olivier Giroud’s stunning acrobatic finish, but the Eagles equalized before the half hour mark. Damien Delaney then turned in Alexis Sanchez’s header into his own goal in the second half to gift the game to Arsenal FC.
The game was certainly not Arsenal FC’s best, but after the shambolic start to the Premier League against West Ham, improvements were definitely there. Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Per Mertesacker all stood out with brilliant individual performances, while Olivier Giroud applied a stunning acrobatic finish to an Ozil cross.
Petr Cech conceded a second speculative effort in consecutive games, as Joel Ward’s effort from outside of the box evaded his outstretched arms and made it’s way into the back of the net. Alexis Sanchez almost beat Alex McCarthy in the second half from a header, but Damien Delaney’s outstretched leg helped the ball into his own net.
Ia m pleased because we have shown many different aspects – Arsene Wenger
Speaking in the post match presser, Arsene Wenger praised his team’s fighting spirit and reserved special praise for Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. As quoted by Arsenal FC’s official website, Wenger said:
“We have shown our strong response and we have shown different aspects in our game that are vital in the Premier League. We had a good, fluent game in the first half and when they came back to 1-1 it was a mental test to see how we could respond. We managed to find a second goal and after that in the second half of the game we just had to dig in, fight, and we did it as well. Ia m pleased because we have shown many different aspects that will be very important in the season.”
Wenger also commented on his record-signing’s style of play and how the German displayed a new facet of his game. Although the 65-year-old did lament the lack of goal-scoring in Ozil’s game.
“He had a very good performance. He was important getting out from the back, getting out of tight areas. It is a pleasure to watch the quality of his passing and the intelligence of his passing. What I told you is what I want from him more is a few more goals this season. For the rest of the build-up in the game he was magnificent. He works harder than people thinks he does. He is not spectacular in his defending but he wants to do the job, he wants to help the team. What I liked in his game today was he made many runs without the ball behind the defenders, which is a bit new as he likes to come with the ball. Today he mixed up his game better.”
Alexis Sanchez started the game today after making a brief appearance in the loss to West Ham. While Wenger felt that the Chilean was not yet 100% match fit, he did comment that Arsenal FC’s second goal was a typical Sanchez goal, which came more out of drive and commitment than fitness and finesse.
“He brings a drive forward. He brings the pressure on the opponent. He brings goal chances. When it was 1-1 it is no coincidence that he found the header over Ward [and] maybe ita s a typical Alexis goal. More desire than fitness, he is still a bit short fitness-wise but he is a fighter.”
Wenger and Pardew share contrasting views on Lee Mason not sending off Coquelin
Francis Coquelin narrowly escaped a red card for fouls in the second half after he had already been booked in the first half. Wenger insisted that Coquelin’s challenge was not deserving of a second booking and maintained that he had to substitute the player because of the pressure from the crowd and players.
“I dona t believe so. He didna t deserve a yellow card. The pressure was on to get him sent off. I had a hesitation at half-time but I felt that the pressure was already there. After the last foul I thought there was not much room for a decision.”
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew on the other hand was critical of the referee’s decision to not send off Francis Coquelin. Speaking in front of reporters, as quoted by Goal, he said:
“I said to Lee Mason: ‘Listen. That tackle before half-time is not a sending off at that point but that’s his last chance, you know that.’
“He then makes the foul and he [should be] off at that point. Arsene Wenger knew that and substituted him straight away. It’s a decision Lee Mason needs to be braver on.”