Crystal Palace hosted Arsenal Thursday evening at Selhurst Park in a London Derby match. Arsenal entered the game with five goalless games (no wins) in their last five league games against London opponents.
Three changes were made to the team since the thrilling 3-3 draw against Liverpool on the 22nd with Chambers, Mustafi, and Kolasinac all in the lineup.
No surprise that all of those changes were in more defensive positions with the atrocious defending we saw in the last match. It was a very important game for young Calum Chambers, who has not gotten his ideal amount of Premier League appearances (mostly due to injury).
Arsene Wenger managed his 810th Premier League match today, tying Sir Alex Ferguson for the most matches managed in history. He will take the record this weekend at the Emirates, barring an unlikely sacking.
The first half started on the right foot as Arsenal’s attack began linking up immediately. Ozil continued his terrific run of form and got Alexis and Lacazette involved very early. Calum Chambers also looked fairly decent as he got his first start for Arsenal since the first match of the previous season. Chambers did have a very close handball just outside the box that Michael Oliver chose not to call though, and get a yellow card in a seemingly unnecessary tug when Palace were breaking. It looked like he had enough players behind him to get back into position though.
Breakthrough did come in the 25th minute off a beautiful half volley from Shkodran Mustafi. Lacazette did very well to get the ball into a positon where he could hit it with his left on target. The ball whipped to the right of Speroni, who did well to parry the shot to Mustafi. Mustafi hit the rebound hard at a very tight angle to put Arsenal up 1-0.
GOAL ! Mustafi scores the rebound from Lacazettes shot. 1-0 Arsenal pic.twitter.com/xaYYCfQhrX— ArsenalUpdates (@ArsenalEdits___) December 28, 2017
There were wonderful chances for Mesut Ozil and Lacazette which just missed. In the 29th minute Alexis sent the ball into Ozil who tried to redirect it into the goal and Speroni did well to keep it out.
Lacazette’s chance came from the top of the box, where he moved right for a direct shot on the keeper, but the low drive went just wide of the post.
Arsenal entered the break 1-0 as the clearly dominant team. Mustafi looked the best player with 2 tackles, 3 clearances, 1 interception, 1 block, 1 goal at the half.
Arsenal broke out of the second half immediately coming close to a second, but Palace contained the attack and had a few ideas of their own.
Zaha in the 50th minute broke down the touchline and crossed the ball beautifully to Townsend, who slotted the ball home to the bottom right corner of the net. Cech never had a chance and Arsenal’s terrible away form looked to return. 1-1.
Goal - Townsend scores vs Arsenal, Assisted by Zaha - 1-1 pic.twitter.com/7ROOxqTV2W— ArsenalUpdates (@ArsenalEdits___) December 28, 2017
Palace kept pressing as they looked very dominant in the second half, creating a lot of chances and making it a tough match for Arsenal to keep up with. Zaha and the Crystal Palace attack combined well out of the break and were persistent in creating chances.
Then Alexis Sanchez happened. It started with a ball over the top Alexis then laid off for Lacazette. The Frenchman returned the ball to the Chilean and he decimated the ball low and hard to the near post. Arsenal took the lead 2-1.
Alexis restores the lead for Arsenal. 2-1 pic.twitter.com/7yHd4hkPN8— Terje (@xArsenalTerje) December 28, 2017
Arsenal made it 3-1 shortly thereafter. A peach of a pass from Wilshere saw Sanchez take a touch and slot it home. Just take a look at this pass from Jack. The lad deserves to be in the team every week with quality like this.
Alexis scores his second goal of the night. Sublime assist from Wilshere. 3-1 pic.twitter.com/AmK87NafYn— Terje (@xArsenalTerje) December 28, 2017
Arsenal were cruising after that. They never seemed like they were willing to go away after the third, and kept pressing to score. Crystal Palace did get a goal back in the 89th minute from James Tomkins, who scored off a Palace corner to make things close at the end.
Three points is three points, though, and Arsenal will take the 3-2 win with delight.
If there is a criticism to give away from the goals: Lacazette gave way again to Francis Coquelin in the 75th minute, and I have to agree with the commentators when they said Wenger is not mindful of his player’s mentalities. Lacazette should’ve been given the full 90 after a particularly strong performance and a decent chance at scoring for the first time since United.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles came in as well for Granit Xhaka at the end and helped hold the lead.
Arsenal head to West Brom for their next Premier League match, where they need to begin a good run of form ahead of the FA Cup weekend coming on the 6th of January.
Happy New Year from TheShortFuse!