Strong as an Ox: Arsenal 2 – 0 Crystal Palace – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Arsenal 2 – 0 Crystal Palace

After a shaky performance down at Southampton, Arsenal needed to get back to winning ways a day before title rivals Manchester City and Chelsea faced each other. Palace were in high spirits though, and had a battle of their own to win at the other end of the table.[quote_right]”Arsenal’s first half was full of creativity, but completely void of any solid chances…”[/quote_right]

Arsenal’s first half was full of creativity, but completely void of any solid chances.

Cazorla, Podolski and Ozil in particular were running the midfield show, sliding in passes, beating players and looking confident. But shots on goal, as usual, remained few and far between.

Mesut Ozil had a freekick saved by Peroni midway through the half, whilst Monreal and Sagna also had half-chances. Chamakh had a chance at the other end forPalace, but the scores remained level right up until the half time whistle.

The second half started a little differently. in just the forty-seventh minute, Santi Cazorla showed good feet in the middle before lifting a ball over the top for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had made a good run into the box. Chamberlain’s touch was good, and his second was even better, as he too lifted the ball over Speroni, and into the net.

Following the goal, Arsenal didn’t really apply any extra pressure.[quote_left]”[For the rest of the game] The Gunners decided to soak up any threats, and not exert themselves.”[/quote_left]

In fact, it took until the seventy-third minute for Arsenal to add another goal to the scoreboard. Chamberlain picked up the ball in the middle, played a nice one-two with Giroud, and then went on a powerful run just into the Palace box, where he let off a low, thunderous shot through the hands of Speroni.

Remarkably though, Arsenal yet again sat back and relaxed after Chamberlain’s second goal.

For the rest of the game, the chances were few and far between once again, as The Gunners decided to soak up any threats, and not exert themselves.

The final whistle soon blew without much incident. It wasn’t a classic, but it was a strong, solid performance, worth every point.

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[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]

Sczesney: [7.5/10]

Made a superb save from close range to keep Arsenal ahead at 1-0, and was also quick off his line against Chamakh. Little else to do.

Sagna: [7/10]

Had a bit of a torrid time against Bolaise early on, but Bacary grew into the game. He got up and down the flank well, linked up with the midfield, and made a couple of good challenges.

Mertesacker: [7.5/10]

Solid as ever, nicking the ball off the toes of strikers, tackling hard, and reading the game with precision. Booked late on though.

Koscielny: [6.5/10]

Bit of a shocker today by Laurent’s high standards. He was inches away from heading in Ozil’s freekick, he was turned and beaten by Chamakh on separate occasions, and his clearances were poor too.

Monreal: [7/10]

Made a terrific run early in the game and was found brilliantly by Ozil, but he couldn’t convert. Otherwise, he was fairly solid defensively, and lively on the left flank.

Arteta: [7/10]

Mikel got himself forward a little more today, which was good to see. His passing was good, and he maintained his defensive balance when needed.

The Ox: [8/10] – MOTM

What a performance. He started the game well, always showing himself for the ball and looking to play positively. His run and finish for the first goal was superb, whilst the second goal was nothing but pure power and strength from start to finish. Great to have him back.

Cazorla: [7.5/10]

Lovely little performance from Cazorla today. His assist for The Ox’s first was pinpoint, and he showed great feet and balance all over the pitch to keep Arsenal in possession. Helped out defensively too.

Podolski: [6.5/10]

Made one or too surging runs on the ball, but otherwise, he was pretty ineffective. His only shot struck the side netting from close range, and he just wasn’t making enough runs. Came way too deep into midfield at times too. A shame, since he’d earned this start. Subbed.

Ozil: [6.5/10]

Ozil’s first half was good. He was dictating play, looking comfortable, and his pass for Monreal’s chance was sublime. Yet in the second half, he went to sleep. Poor passing, lazy movement and a lack of creativity in the end. Still early for him yet, despite it feeling like he’s been here far longer than he has. Subbed.

Giroud: [6.5/10]

Poor touches from Giroud today, and in fairness to Gabbidon and Delaney in Palace’s defence, they did a good job on him. No intelligent movement as per usual, and his passing wasn’t always great. Still grabbed an assist for The Ox’s second though.

Subs:

Bendtner: [N/A], Rosicky: [N/A], Gibbs [N/A]

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[title]Strong as an Ox[/title]

Arsenal’s performance today wasn’t creative, it was simply strong. Mainly because of Chamberlain.

Palace were parking the bus, planning attacks on the counter. Arsenal needed somebody with drive to smash through Palace’s defence, and The Ox did that twice today.

Both his finishes were excellent, and more impressively, his play leading to his goals were excellent. Well done to him. Unfortunately, our midfield doesn’t seem to want to hit its peak. When Ozil plays well, Cazorla doesn’t. Today, Cazorla played well, and Ozil didn’t. We need to get that right.

But hey, three points, and we’re top again – for now.

Next up, Liverpool away.

Image: Arsenal

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