Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud
Subs: Ospina, Debuchy, Gabriel, Gibbs, Arteta, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Leading up to today’s clash at Selhurst Park, the boss talked about wanting to see more aggression from his side. So it is perhaps through that prism we should look at the changes made from the defeat of the previous weekend. Alexis was brought in leaving the Ox on the bench despite being one of our most potent attackers over recent matches. And Bellerin was restored at right back against Palace’s pace for a lineup that resembled the 2nd half of last season’s campaign.
After a lively start that showed both sides and both sets of supporters were up for it, the 1st real chance fell for Giroud after some slick interchange with Ramsey on the left. Moments later from a Palace corner, Arsenal broke on a lightning break that saw Alexis get off 2 shots on goal, still to no avail. And a few moments later, Alexis forced a turnover to create another chance.
After some end to end action, Arsenal moved the ball quickly to the left wing where Ozil fizzed in a cross for Giroud to finish with a stylish, low scissor kick. 1-0 to Arsenal on 15 minutes.
Sanchez pounced on another error to get a shot off one-on-one with the keeper while Palace relied on swift counters through Zaha and Bolasie which led to plenty of set-pieces for them.
But in the 27th minute, Palace replied through Ward after working the ball from the left to the right side. 1-1.
On 35 minutes, Arsenal countered swiftly for Ozil to cross from the left to Ramsey who almost flicked it in cleverly.
Arsenal continued to create and threaten as halftime approached. Coquelin picked up a yellow card and minutes later clipped Zaha in midfield for a tackle that would normally earn him a 2nd yellow. He had gotten lucky as play closed for half-time providing a chance to cool down.
The early chances fell to Palace and within a couple of minutes of the restart, Wickham struck Cech’s left post as he met a cross from his right.
A magic flick by Ozil on the Palace byline off a Cech longball earned Arsenal a freekick.
Coquelin broke up a dangerous counter with an eye-catching tackle to regain possession and set up a counter.
Then on 54 minutes, Arsenal got the reward for their pressure as a Bellerin cross was met by Sanchez rising in the box and heading towards the far post which was deflected in for our 2nd goal. 2-1 to Arsenal.
Palace countered minutes later and Bellerin was caught flat-footed by Puncheon but Cech was on hand to make the save diving to his left.
On 61 minutes, Coquelin got what looked like a last warning from the referee. Chamberlain was hurriedly brought on for Coquelin to take the heat out of things. Ramsey dropped into the midfield to provide the bite alongside Santi while the Ox started to give Palace a taste of their own medicine through pace on the wing.
Another counter started by Santi showcased Ozil’s great linking passes and gave him a shot on goal which went over from a dangerous position.
Alexis made way for Arteta on 75 minutes as Arsenal looked to wrest control of the encounter. Gibbs came on for Ozil on 82 minutes. Arsenal were looking to dig in and hit on the counter. And having pace on the wings to match Palace’s pace.
A dodgy corner for Palace came off a Palace player and bounced over fortuitously. It would be a frenetic last 5 minutes or so on an energy sapping, hot, and humid day. Corners and crosses for Palace with Arsenal grateful to scramble the ball clear. Interspersed Arsenal counters saw Santi have a shot blocked from close range to win a corner to relieve pressure, almost worth a goal as we worked through the 3 minutes of extra time. A final counter gave Ox a shot at the keeper and brought a final whistle.
A nail-biter ended with a deserved Arsenal win, reaping 3 points from the first 6. So much better than any alternative scenario available today.