Arsenal see off Crystal Palace to go third
17:53 01 January 2017
PA Wire/PA Images
Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 0
Olivier Giroud’s stunning volley lit up Emirates Stadium as Arsenal comfortably beat struggling Palace to reclaim third place in the Premier League.
The French striker stole between two defenders to meet a cross from Alexis Sanchez with his trailing leg and send the ball rocketing into the Eagles net.
It was Giroud’s second goal in successive starts and set the tone for the Gunners to collect three points and move back above Tottenham in the table.
Arsenal took command of the game immediately and Giroud might have put them ahead early on, failing to apply the finishing touch to Nacho Monreal’s tantalising low cross.
Sanchez fired just wide on the turn, while Iwobi also went close after a one-two with Lucas Perez – but it was the Spaniard who began the move that resulted in the Gunners’ opening goal on 17 minutes.
Sliding in to intercept a stray Palace pass, Perez initiated a six-man move that culminated in Giroud’s breathtaking strike beyond a stunned Wayne Hennessey.
The Palace goalkeeper did well to thwart Sanchez twice before half-time, while Mohamed Elneny might also have increased his side’s lead against their hapless visitors.
Arsenal did double their advantage 11 minutes into the second half when James Tomkins sliced Monreal’s cross up in the air and Iwobi did well to direct his header into the far corner despite Joel Ward’s efforts to keep it out.
Petr Cech had been a virtual spectator up to that point – but the Gunners’ keeper was belatedly called into action to block a header from Christian Benteke.
Andros Townsend also tested Cech with a powerful drive from distance, but that was about as good as it got for the relegation-threatened south Londoners.
Arsenal had the luxury of ringing the changes in the final 20 minutes and two of the replacements, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, missed opportunities to add some gloss to the scoreline.
Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Elneny (Coquelin 72); Perez (Ramsey 72), Iwobi (Oxlade-Chamberlain 77), Sanchez; Giroud.