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Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace
ALEX Oxlade-Chamberlain’s second half double consigned Crystal Palace to defeat at Arsenal.
After a scrappy and instantly forgettable opening period, the England international broke the deadlock two minutes after the interval to ease the home side’s nerves.
And it was Oxlade-Chamberlain who made the game safe in the 73rd minute to send the Gunners back to the top of the Premier League summit and leave a disappointing Eagles side hovering just one point above the relegation zone.
There was one change from the Crystal Palace side which beat Hull 1-0 on Tuesday.
Kagisho Dikagcoi came in to the starting XI as Adrian Mariappa dropped to the bench, where he was joined by deadline day capture Wayne Hennessey.
Arsenal bossed possession in the opening exchanges and only the legs of Julian Speroni denied Nacho Monreal after he latched onto Mesut Ozil’s delightful through ball.
Speroni wasn’t troubled by Santi Cazorla’s long range free-kick, while Marouane Chamakh’s touch let him down as the striker over-played the ball on his way through on goal, allowing Wojciech Szczesny to come out and gather.
Dikgacoi made a vital interception to prevent Carzola meeting Lukas Podolski’s pass after a great move from the Gunners.
Ozil’s free-kick got a slight touch on the head of Laurent Koscielny, although fortunately for the Eagles Speroni reacted well to tip ii behind for a corner.
Joel Ward was challenged just outside of the area by Monreal but nothing was given, while at the other end Speroni made a simple catch from Per Mertesacker’s header after the Gunners were awarded yet another free-kick outside of the box.
But having survived Arsenal’s first half dominance, Palace were finally undone within two minutes of the restart as Corzola’s pass picked out Oxlade-Chamberlain inside the box and he coolly lifted the ball over Speroni to break the deadlock.
The Eagles were almost level minutes later when Jason Puncheon broke down the left and whipped in a cross which was flicked on by Yannick Bolasie to Cameron Jerome, whose header produced an excellent save from Szczesny.
Podolski fired into the side-netting as the visiting defence were again carved open by Arsenal’s fine build-up play.
Damien Delaney’s header from Bolasie’s delivery flew harmlessly behind and the Eagles again went close when substitute Barry Bannan blazed over from just outside the box having been picked out by Puncheon.
But it was the Gunners who struck next when Oxlade-Chamberlain played a one-two with Olivier Giroud, brushed past Ward, ran into the area before picking his spot and firing a low shot beyond the reach of Speroni.
Next up for the Eagles is a vital Selhurst encounter against West Bromwich Albion, exactly the sort of game they need to be winning if they are to survive, and exactly the sort of game they have been winning under Tony Pulis.
No need to panic just yet.
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Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Parr, Bolasie, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Puncheon, Chamakh (Gayle 82), Jerome (Bannan 56). Subs not used: Hennessey, Mariappa, McCarthy, Guedioura, Wilbraham. Att: 60,005.
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