Report: Arsenal 2-1 Crystal Palace (inc goals)

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Koscielny Palace

Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Koscielny, Chambers, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Alexis, Cazorla, Sanogo

Subs: Martinez, Monreal, Coquelin, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Campbell, Giroud

Arsenal left it late to secure a win in the first Premier League game of the season with a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace.

Arsene Wenger started with the same XI that began the Community Shield at Wembley last weekend, with Yaya Sanogo preferred to Olivier Giroud up front, also handing Arsenal Premier League debuts to Calum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy and Alexis.

As you would expect the home side had most of the ball in the opening part of the game, with new boy Alexis involved, looking to hook up with Debuchy down the right the hand side.

There were some half-hearted penalty appeals when Ramsey ran into Scott Dann in the Palace area but it would have been generous to say the least.

Alexis had his first sight of goal in the 16th minute but fired over from 25 yards, but Arsenal’s passing was wayward with Ramsey, Wilshere and Alexis all guilty of gifting the ball to the opposition.

Yaya Sanogo fired a 27th minute shot wide after good hold-up play, before Jack Wilshere forced Julian Speroni into a save which the keeper pushed around the post for a corner.

The game was all Arsenal but against the run of play the visitors took the lead. Having won a corner after a weird sequence of play when Szczensy was almost caught out and Laurent Koscielny almost gave away a penalty, Palace won a corner.

From the in-swinging set piece former Fulham man Brede Hangeland rose highest to head across goal into the far corner. 0-1. It was interesting to note that Arsenal had no men on the posts when the corner was taken.

Arsenal’s most dangerous looking moments came from set-pieces but Cazorla’s delivery was poor and Palace found it easy to deal with. So, it was something of a surprise when a free kick brought about the Gunners equaliser.

This time Alexis curled the ball into the box from a central position around 40 yards out, and  it was Laurent Koscielny met the ball on the run and flicked a brilliant glancing header into the bottom corner to make it 1-1.

It meant the teams went in level at the break, neither side made a half-time change and Arsenal defended a Palace corner in the opening moments of the second period.

We were forced into a 53rd minute change with Nacho Monreal replacing Kieran Gibbs who looked to tweak a hamstring, and the game continued in the same vein as the first half with Arsenal struggling to break Palace down and Palace time-wasting like bandits.

Jason Puncheon had a couple of efforts on goal, one of which was blocked the other which was saved by Szczesny, while Cazorla picked up Arsenal’s second booking of the game for a foul on Chamakh.

Arsene Wenger made his second change in the 60th minute, throwing on last season’s top goalscorer Olivier Giroud for the ineffective Sanogo. There were then claims for an Arsenal penalty when the ball clearly hit Chamakh on the arm inside the area, but referee Jon Moss was having none of it. Replays showed he clearly leaned into the ball.

Alexis combined well with Cazorla in in the 69th minute but his shot was too weak and easily saved. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain then replaced Jack Wilshere as Arsenal looked to increase the pressure on the visitors.

Ramsey saw a shot easily saved and a Monreal cross fizzed across the box, just missing the run of Giroud who certainly livened things up after coming on. Alexis had a free kick in a good position but whacked it over the bar, and after good build-up play the Chilean overhit his cross with Giroud waiting in the middle.

Again Arsenal’s passing let them down with Cazorla and the Ox finding touch rather than a red shirt. Giroud held off Hangeland well before firing a shot not far beyond the far post from a tight angle, before Palace were reduced to 10 men when Puncheon picked up a second yellow for an 89th minute foul on Monreal.

It was to prove costly, as Arsenal scored almost straight away from a corner. The set-piece came in, was cleared, it went back in again, Koscielny headed it to the back post, Giroud nodded it back across goal and Aaron Ramsey was on hand to poke home from close range. 2-1.

It was the goal to take all three points, even if we had to survive a late corner for Palace, and despite not playing particularly well, the points were all that mattered.

A good start to the season, and something we can certainly build on.

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