Gunners on fire again, maintain reign at Palace

Chile winger Alexis Sanchez, making a belated maiden start of the season, was quickly back in the thick of the action.
Chile winger Alexis Sanchez, making a belated maiden start of the season, was quickly back in the thick of the action.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Crystal Palace 1

Arsenal 2

LONDON • Arsenal got back on track after their opening-day meltdown as Olivier Giroud's superb volley inspired a 2-1 Premier League win against Crystal Palace yesterday.

Arsene Wenger's side were embarrassed by a woeful 0-2 home defeat against West Ham United last weekend but went some way to restoring their confidence with a gritty display at Selhurst Park.

While it was still far from a vintage Arsenal performance, there were reasons for Wenger to be encouraged - none more significant than the memorable strike from much-criticised France forward Giroud, who opened the scoring in the first half.

"It was a bad performance (last week) but even though we lost last week, the most important in football is to bounce back the week after and keep your faith in your game, which is what we tried to do and succeeded (in doing) today," Giroud told Sky Sports.

Also heartening for Wenger was the way Arsenal refused to be shaken by Joel Ward's 28th-minute equaliser. They kept their composure to regain the lead through a Damien Delaney own goal and held firm in the closing stages to secure their first win of the season.

SELF-BELIEF

Even though we lost last week, the most important in football is to bounce back the week after and keep your faith in your game, which is what we tried to do and succeeded (in doing) today.

OLIVIER GIROUD, Arsenal striker

The Gunners had not lost at Palace since 1979 and extending that run was essential as Wenger's team try to avoid a repeat of the slow start that shattered their title challenge last season.

Key to Arsenal's hopes of a first title since 2004 is the form of Alexis Sanchez. The Chile winger, making a belated maiden start of the season after his country's victorious Copa America campaign, was quickly back in the thick of the action. His downward header from Hector Bellerin's cross was diverted into the net by Palace captain Delaney in the 55th minute.

Earlier, Francis Coquelin was lucky to escape a red card when the

Arsenal midfielder, already on a booking, clattered into Wilfried Zaha just before half-time. Wenger's side had another let-off soon after the interval when Connor Wickham stretched to poke Zaha's cross onto the near post.

Palace manager Alan Pardew told BBC Sport: "The game changed on two incidents. We hit the post at 1-1 and you have to argue they are lucky to have 11 players. Everyone in the stadium knew he should have gone."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2015, with the headline 'Gunners on fire again, maintain reign at Palace'. Print Edition | Subscribe