When Laurent Koscielny knocked in Arsenal’s third goal just thirteen minutes into the match, all Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson could do was laugh. It was just that kind of day for his side. The Gunners would add a fourth nine minutes later and cruise to victory, a Palace consolation goal the only blemish on a fantastic day for Arsenal.
Nacho Monreal was Arsenal’s man of the match. In just 33 minutes of playing time (and with the help of some comically poor marking from James McArthur), the Spaniard scored a goal and assisted on two more. He has been, for my money, the Gunners’ best player this season. He’s not flashy, he’s just solid week-in and week-out. Hopefully his early departure was precautionary - it appeared to be from the gesticulations he made as he left the pitch.
A couple other notes:
- Alexandre Lacazette ended his longest scoring drought in five years when he banged home Arsenal’s fourth. It was a peach of a goal, created by the quick combination passing that we’ve come to expect from the club. It was also the 500th goal scored in the Premier League for Arsenal by a Frenchman.
- Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Özil (and the aforementioned Nacho Monreal) all returned from injury. Say what you want about those guys, but Arsenal are much better when they are in the starting lineup. Sead Kolašinac was also given a post-injury runout.
- Four or five times, Jack Wilshere dodged collisions that a couple years ago he would not have. It’s a welcome change to his playing style, and one that, quite frankly, he had to make to stay fit and in the lineup.
- Arsenal’s struggles away from home this season have been well-documented. Less talked about, their home form - the club has only lost one of its last twenty-five games at the Emirates in all competitions.
- Reiss Nelson made his Premier League debut when he came on in the 72nd minute. Congratulations to the youngster.
Crystal Palace aren’t good, but this is what Arsenal are supposed to do against not good teams. It had been too long since they blew an opponent out. While they won’t look like this every week in the post-Alexis Sanchez era, a 4-1 win in the midst of all the distracting transfer buzz is encouraging.
Next up, Chelsea visit the Emirates on Wednesday in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.