Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Crystal Palace 0 Arsenal 2

Ian Holloway quit as manager of Crystal Palace because he could not rouse a reaction from the players. There was one here.

Holloway also quit because Palace had bought badly – settling for quantity rather than quality — and were not good enough. There was more evidence of that also.

Arsenal won and did so playing the final 25 minutes with 10 men after Mikel Arteta – who had scored from the penalty spot – was red-carded after throwing his arm across his former team-mate Marouane Chamakh.

Denial of a goalscoring opportunity? Arsenal supporters (and maybe Palace ones also) will cruelly suggest that DOGSO does not apply for Chamakh who has simply been dog-so-so. Awful in fact. Even an open goal for the Moroccan would not represent an opportunity, they would claim.

Still although Chamakh was 40 yards from goal and he had Barry Bannan steaming up inside him ahead of the covering defender, Laurent Koscielny, Arteta had to go. The Spaniard knew what he was doing. The dismissal pumped up the Palace support even further and Arsenal were indebted to goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny for two outstanding saves within a minute.

But, apart from those two incidents, a fine snap-shot from Joel Ward, after a sharp exchange of passes, that Szczesny tipped onto the bar and then a fierce volley from Mile Jedinak which the goalkeeper superbly pushed away, Arsenal held on and even added a second goal.

At the end Olivier Giroud, who had scored that goal with a header, was on all fours gulping in air. Never mind Dogso, Arsenal looked dog-tired. This was not exactly winning ugly but, as Arsène Wenger put it more prosaically “a game of efficiency” and it kept Arsenal at the top of the Premier League.

So sanguine was Wenger that he did not rail too heavily against Arteta’s dismissal. The midfielder will miss one game – the forthcoming Capital One Cup tie against Chelsea – and would not have featured anyway. “The referee got it wrong,” Wenger argued of Chris Foy’s decision. But he left it at that.

For Palace’s stand-in manager, Keith Millen, there was a frank admission. He got a reaction, Palace were better but he will not be in charge for long.

“I know it won’t be me,” he said. “I don’t think I’m the right person at the moment for the position we are in to take the job. Personally I think it should be someone with experience of winning Premier League matches. It needs someone who can come in from the outside to look at it in a fresh way.” Palace chairman Steve Parish said interviews will take place on Monday and Tuesday to find Holloway’s replacement. His ideal candidate? An unattached, younger manager with a connection to the club. That limits the field somewhat and there is a growing doubt that another possibility, former Stoke City manager Tony Pulis, wants the post. Parish added that he will speak to former manager Neil Warnock also with fresh suggestions that either he or Steve Coppell, another former Palace manager, could become a director of football.

Where that leaves Millen remains to be seen but he deserves credit with the way he organized his team, overhauling the line-up with six changes and bringing back Chamakh to see if he could be motivated by facing his former club. Palace packed the midfield and defended deep and the possession statistics for the opening quarter were astonishing: Arsenal had 88 per cent.

Maybe it was the ease of it all, their obvious superiority, or maybe, as Wenger noted, it was the long grass or the early loss of Mathieu Flamini to a groin injury, but Arsenal actually began to labour after a bright opening in which Giroud headed over and Mesut Özil, again quiet, maybe still suffering from a virus, crossed instead of shooting.

Suddenly Palace sensed an opportunity and shots from distance by Chamakh and Adelène Guedioura and a header over by Bannan who, soon after, sent in a cross cum shot that just missed the post and the head of Damien Delaney.

It signalled a significant improvement from the home side although Santi Cazorla pulled a shot wide and Aaron Ramsey’s angled drive cannoned off the chest of goalkeeper Julián Speroni.

For all their effort, Palace then conceded the softest of penalties as substitute Serge Gnabry was brought down recklessly by the hapless Guedioura with his trailing leg. Arteta drove the spot-kick to Speroni’s right.

Delaney struck a clearance against Gnabry, which just squirted past the post, and Giroud should have added a second but mistimed a near post header only for the dynamic to change with Arteta’s dismissal. Palace sensed they had a chance but Szczesny denied them as Millen threw on more and more attacking options.

Instead it was Arsenal who scored with Giroud finding Ramsey with a deft touch. He ran on, checked and floated a wonderful cross for Giroud to meet and guide his header beyond Speroni. “We did our job,” Wenger said. “Maybe we were not the sharpest but we were serious and determined. We want to win with style but that is not always possible.” It is, however, the hallmark of winners.

Source: Telegraph

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