Ramsey to the rescue again as Arsenal edge out battling Crystal Palace
19:36 16 August 2014
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Aaron Ramsey came to Arsenal’s rescue yet again with an injury-time winner to see off managerless Crystal Palace.
The talismanic Welshman, who scored Arsenal’s FA Cup final winner just three months ago at Wembley, poked home from close range to hand the Gunners a 2-1 win and a triumphant start to the Premier League campaign.
Earlier, Palace had taken the lead thanks to a debut goal from former Fulham defender Brede Hangeland, before Laurent Koscielny pulled Arsenal level shortly before half-time.
Palace battled hard and limited Arsenal’s chances, but they failed to clear a looping cross from Alexis Sanchez at the death and Ramsey was on hand to poke home after Mathieu Debuchy’s initial effort was parried by Julian Speroni.
It was a cruel end to a whirlwind 48 hours for Palace, who have been left in the temporary control of Keith Millen following Tony Pulis’ shock departure on Thursday evening.
The south Londoners found themselves in disarray just two days before the start of the season, but that didn’t stop their fans’ typically vocal support in one corner of the Emirates.
Arsenal fielded the same starting line-up as in their 3-0 Community Shield win over Manchester City last weekend, with Yaya Sanogo surprisingly preferred to Olivier Giroud up front.
Palace, meanwhile, found room for their trio of summer signings as Hangeland was joined by fellow debutants Martin Kelly and Frazier Campbell in their line-up.
The Gunners dominated from the outset, with Sanchez showing flickers of class on the right-hand side, but Palace sat deep and soaked up the pressure without too much trouble.
Arsenal’s threatened for the first time after seven minutes, when the ball found its way to Ramsey after a series of stepovers from Sanchez. The Welshman went down under pressure from Scott Dann, but referee Jon Moss waved away the home side’s penalty appeals.
Sanchez and Sanogo skewed shots well wide but Jack Wilshere went closer when his curling effort from 20 yards out drew a scrambling save from Julian Speroni.
Palace had hardly troubled Arsenal at the other end, but after 35 minutes they claimed a shock opener that silenced the Emirates crowd.
Campbell, working hard in the lone striker role, won Palace a corner after Koscielny was forced into some desperate defending by Wojciech Szczesny’s under-hit clearance.
The towering figure of Hangeland moved into the six yard box unopposed and flicked the set piece into the far corner.
Conceding sloppy set-piece goals against the run of has become a worryingly regular occurrence for this Arsenal side, but it was Palace’s turn to go to sleep just 10 minutes later for Koscielny’s equaliser.
The French defender was in acres of space as he latched onto Sanchez’s looping free kick and nodded the ball beyond Speroni.
Arsenal emerged from half-time with renewed optimism but the lack of match sharpness was obvious and they still struggled to break the Eagles down.
Arsene Wenger threw on Olivier Giroud for Sanogo as Arsenal sought to unlock the visitors’ defence, and Sanchez almost put the hosts in front in the 68th minute when his deflected shot forced Speroni to make the save.
Nacho Monreal, who had replaced Kieran Gibbs at the start of the half, fizzed a low cross towards the near post but Giroud failed to make a connection.
The French striker then peeled away from his marker again in the 82nd minute but there wasn’t a team-mate on hand to poke home his angled cross-shot.
But just as it looked as though Palace were going to escape with a point, up popped Ramsey to send the Emirates faithful into raptures.