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Crystal Palace 1 Arsenal 2: Delaney own goal proves decisive

Arsenal got their Premier League campaign up and running at Selhurst Park as a Damien Delaney own goal secured a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace.

Having been pegged back before half-time, Arsenal – beaten by West Ham on the opening day – secured all three points just before the hour as Delaney handed the visitors their sixth successive win over Palace.

Olivier Giroud netted his first of the campaign after 16 minutes to give Arsene Wenger’s side the lead with a superb finish, before Joel Ward recorded the second Premier League goal of his career to level things up.

Arsenal’s advantage was restored 10 minutes into the second half as Delaney diverted Alexis Sanchez’s header beyond Alex McCarthy.

Home debutant Connor Wickham wasted a late chance to earn Palace a point, while the introduction of loanee Patrick Bamford preceded a late rally in which Jordon Mutch and Ward went close.

But Arsenal held firm to get their first points of the campaign, helping to atone for the 2-0 home reverse against West Ham.

Keen to put that result quickly behind them, Arsenal made a positive start and saw Giroud and Sanchez both denied inside 10 minutes by crucial defensive blocks.

With Arsenal’s early dominance the opening goal seemed inevitable and duly arrived after 16 minutes as Giroud’s superb acrobatic volley found the bottom-left corner from Mesut Ozil’s precise delivery.

A second looked likely as Wenger’s side – who made two changes from the West Ham defeat – enjoyed prolonged spells of possession but, against the run of play, Palace drew level.

As the half hour approached, Yannick Bolasie and James McArthur combined well on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area to set up Ward, and his low drive arrowed past Petr Cech.

Spurred on by the vocal home support, Palace – with Bolasie and Wickham making their first starts of the campaign – began to threaten more, but they needed a reflex save from McCarthy to keep out Aaron Ramsey’s front-post flick before the break.

Palace made a vibrant start to the second half and went agonisingly close to taking the lead three minutes in as Wickham crashed an effort off the post from Wilfried Zaha’s cross. 

The new Palace striker was made to rue his miss just before the hour as the visitors retook the lead, Sanchez’s towering back-post header turned into his own net by the unfortunate Delaney.

Ramsey should have extended their advantage further after 67 minutes following a flowing move down the left, the Wales international superbly picked out by Ozil before lashing over the bar.

Palace applied late pressure in their search for an equaliser with Wickham, Mutch and Ward all wasting openings, while McCarthy was needed to make one last save to prevent Santi Cazorla from stretching Arsenal’s winning margin.

Sun 16 Aug, 2015
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