Arsene Wenger earned a historic win on Thursday evening as Alexis Sánchez scored twice to beat Crystal Palace 3-2 at Selhurst Park.
The Frenchman, taking charge of his 810th Premier League match with the Gunners, matched Alex Ferguson’s all-time record in the victory. He would have been delighted as Shkodran Mustafi prodded the Gunners ahead within six minutes. Despite Andros Townsend levelling matters just after the break, two goals in four minutes from Sánchez ensured Arsenal’s third Premier League victory of the season.
Early lead for Arsenal
Amongst a smattering of wild, long-range efforts, Yohan Cabaye was the first to have a clear sight of goal. Finding space on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area, the Frenchman drove just wide on Petr Čech’s right-hand post. After wonderful build-up play, Granit Xhaka was then the next to have an opportunity but his shot was well blocked on its route to goal.
From then, it did not take long for the Gunners to take the lead. From a free-kick, Alexandre Lacazette did well to find space on the right side of the penalty area and looked to curl into the far corner. The shot was well-stopped by Julian Speroni but only into the path of Shkodran Mustafi. The German defender then stabbed home first time to notch his second Premier League goal of the season.
Speroni spares the Eagles
It took an excellent reaction save from the Crystal Palace stopper to keep the advantage at only one goal. Alexis Sanchez and Sead Kolašinac broke down the left-wing before an excellent pass from the former put German midfielder Mesut Özil through on goal. He attempted to prod into the bottom corner but a strong paw from Speroni ensured the ball stayed out.
Wilfried Zaha then tore down the other side but could only curl his shot just wide as Palace struggled to keep their visitors at bay. Lacazette should have doubled the lead as he danced in front of the Palace defence and found room to shoot. The ball though bobbled harmlessly wide. The Gunners were then guilty of being even more wasteful as Özil made another driving run into the Palace penalty area. The former Real Madrid man attempted to find Lacazatte but his pass was just too strong, with the move culminating in Speroni comfortably collecting a weak Xhaka shot as half-time was signalled.
Palace level following Gunners wastefulness
Wenger’s men were made to pay for all of their missed chances only four minutes into the second-half. Zaha again found space out wide and dribbled his way to the by-line. Putting in a strong, low cross, the ball was met by Andros Townsend, and the former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder did not hesitate in burying the ball in the net to drag Roy Hodgson’s Eagles level following a poor first-half showing.
The goal appeared to lift the hosts and Jeffrey Schlupp should have done better but could only shoot into the side-netting as Wenger’s big day seemed to be getting ruined.
Sanchez strikes to put the Gunners ahead
The Eagles were not on level terms for much longer though. A poor clearance for Christian Benteke gave Xhaka time to pick out Lacazette at the far post. The French striker rolled the ball into the path of Alexis Sánchez who duly thundered the ball past Speroni from inside the penalty area; the ball flashing past the Argentine before he could even react. As a result, the Chilean notched his fifth goal in his last nine Premier League games.
He then netted again only minutes later. An excellent lofted through-ball from Jack Wilshere saw the ex-Barcelona forward put through one-on-one. With a cool finish, the 29-year-old rolled the ball under Speroni to stretch the Gunners’ advantage.
Palace rally late on
Despite the goal, Crystal Palace continued to probe and substitute Bakary Sako was wayward on two occasions, first shooting over and then slotting a shot just wide of the post. James Tomkins though did earn his team a route back into the game as he headed past Čech from a corner to reduce the deficit to only one.
Arsenal held out extremely well though and secured an historic win for Arsene Wenger who will break the record on Sunday evening at the Hawthorns.
It was a thoroughly professional performance from the Gunners on a momentous night for Arsene Wenger. Three fantastic goals made sure of a much-deserved victory despite Andros Townsend and later on James Tomkins giving the Eagles considerable hope.
The Gunners though were impressive as they seized control of the game yet again on what could have potentially been a tricky evening against an in-form Eagles side. They sit sixth in the Premier League, level on points with rivals Tottenham Hotspur ahead of the weekend’s clash with West Bromwich Albion.
Whilst it was a spirited performance from Crystal Palace, they were undone by some fantastic football from the visitors. Roy Hodgson’s troops remain in 16th position in the Premier League table ahead of Sunday’s clash with Manchester City.
Crystal Palace: Speroni (5); Kelly (6) (Fosu-Mensah (N/A), 80′), Tomkins (6), Dann (5), Schlupp (6); Milivojević (5), Cabaye (6) (McArthur (5), 53′), Loftus-Cheek (6) (Sako (6), 70′); Townsend (7), Benteke (5), Zaha (6).
Arsenal: Čech (6); Koscielny (6), Mustafi (7), Chambers (6); Bellerin (7), Xhaka (7) (Maitland-Niles (N/A), 87′), Wilshere (8), Kolašinac (6); Özil (7), Sánchez (8), Lacazette (6) (Coquelin (N/A), 75′).
Goals: Mustafi (25′), Townsend (49′), Sanchez (62′, 66′)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Yellow Cards: Chambers (29′), Zaha (45+2′)
Red Cards: N/A
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