Wenger set up his team to be attacking, and despite playing away (where we have been awful this season) we looked extremely confident against a team that was unbeaten for the last 8 games. Chambers seemed to slot in well in place of Monreal and we looked a little too comfortable for my liking.
But the pressure paid off and when the ball fell to Mustafi he played it beautifully to slot it into the net after it had bounced around the box a few times. Arsenal still looked very comfortable after that but they defended in nunbers and allowed Palace to come at us but they didn’t really trouble Petr Cech at all in the first half. When we broke away we were very dangerous and we had a couple of chances to go further ahead with Ozil feeding lovely balls into the box. Lacazette tried to walk around five defenders and got a shot off but went wide. All in all we should have had at least a two goal lead at the break.
The second half started with the Gunners on the front foot again and Bellerin nearly increased our lead early on, but we were just a little too laid back, and when Zaha flew down the left wing and hit a hopeful cross into the box the Arsenal defenders were nowhere near it, and Townsend had a very easy shot to equalize. Suddenly Arsenal’s confidence disappeared and Zaha and Loftus-Cheek looked scary down the wing with the defenders backing off. All the momentum was with Palace after the goal despite Arsenal’s first half domination.
Chambers was struggling with Zaha’s pace and Woy must have told his team to attack that side and they kept looking very dangerous indeed against the less experienced youngster. But Arsenal gradually resumed control and Arsenal starting asserting and looking for another goal, while it was Palace’s turn to sit back and soak up the pressure, but to be honest neither keeper had been seriously tested since the goal.
But with half an hour to goal Arsenal finally got the second when Lacazette was surrounded by Palace defenders but slipped it back to Alexis who knocked it past the keeper. Palace refused to give up and kept pressing forward again but the Gunners were equal to everything they threw at us and broke suddenly. Wilshere lobbed a lovely ball over the top to Alexis who controlled it with class and slotted it past the keeper. Alexis (and Arsenal!) are suddenly looking classy and I can’t help but be impressed with their confidence.
Wilshere has been looking like his old self today and Ramsey will face serious competition when he comes back, but I want to know who gave Alexis a kick up the arse-nal.! Arsenal were totally in control. With just three days until we play West Brom we seemed to be relaxing and conserving energy, which is not a bad thing and I will be happy if it stays like this unless Alexis gets his hat.trick. For all his bad reviews he now has as many goals as Lacazette this season now, but obviously he is given a lot more time on the pitch
With 7 minutes to go Zaha got on the end of an excellent cross and could have brought Palace back into the game but he wasn’t given enough space to get a clear header and Arsenal were saved from a nervous end to the match. Palace had scored 2 goals in each of their last 6 home games so its not surprising they were pushing forward but Arsenal just had to get the three points and did it with style and calmness.
Sakho nearly scored and earned a corner from the deflection and somehow Palace got one back to give us the usual nervous last few minutes. I actually predicted a a 3-2 win in my preview so I am very happy at the moment!
Sanchez should get Man Of The Match just for his control on the third goal which was a work of art, but Arsenal still had to keep out Palace for the last 4 minutes and they were trying desperately to get the equalizer again.
Arsenal get the fully deserved three points and Arsenal atre still in the race. Onto West Brom on Sunday. Onwards and Upwards!