Arsenal recovered from their opening-day defeat by West Ham to record a hard-fought victory at Crystal Palace. Alexis Sanchez had three shots blocked as the Gunners began aggressively before Olivier Giroud got the opener. The Frenchman’s superb scissor kick put away a Mesut Ozil cross but the lead lasted 12 minutes until Joel Ward’s driven shot drew Palace level. Connor Wickham hit the post on his home debut before Damian Delaney sliced a Sanchez header into his own net. Jordon Mutch almost inadvertently grabbed a late equaliser when the ball struck his head and went over from a corner, while Petr Cech held a Ward header in a frantic finish. But despite Palace’s combative display, Arsene Wenger’s side ultimately deserved the three points for the quality of their movement and resilience in defence.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said the way in which his side responded to the 2-0 home defeat by West Ham last Sunday would define their season. Sanchez returned for a first start since his extended break following the Copa America and injected the Gunners with an immediate dose of urgency in attack. The Chile international was a constant menace in the opening stages and his hard running set the tone, but Wenger will be more pleased by the way in which the Gunners reasserted their dominance after being pegged back. Ozil, Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey continued to pester Palace with their crisp passing and aggressive movement and Sanchez’s determination was the key factor in re-taking the lead. He leaped over right-back Ward at the back post to force Delaney into the own goal, but Giroud’s effort will live longer in the memory. The 28-year-old showed beautiful technique to retain his balance and strike the ball sweetly as he controlled his fall away from goal.
Arsenal definitely rode their luck at times. Wickham was close to putting Palace ahead after the break and Jason Puncheon finished tamely when presented with a brilliant chance. Francis Coquelin was perhaps fortunate to have picked up just the one yellow card before being replaced, with referee Lee Mason taking a lenient view of the Frenchman’s persistent fouling. Cech was at fault for both of West Ham’s goals but there was little he could do about Palace’s equaliser as Ward’s driven strike was clipping the inside of post by the time he had reached the full length of this dive.
A not so convincing win but a win nonetheless to get the Gunners off this season. Two games played, 1 win, 1 loss, 3 points, 2 goals scored and 3 let in. Arsenal sit in 11th place.