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October 26, 2013
• Selhurst Park, London
Referee: C. Foy
• Attendance: 20050
O. Giroud 87'
Despite the loss the Palace fans will be far happier than after their 4-1 defeat against Fulham last time out - caretaker manager Keith Millen with plenty of positives to take from the clash. Arsenal, meanwhile, remain on top of the Premier League table and, once again this season, show they can grind out a tough victory.
The full-time whistle goes and Arsenal claim the three points - but it was by no means as comfortable as the 2-0 scoreline suggests. Indeed it's a cruel loss in many ways for Crystal Palace, who impressed in the first half and only conceded via a penalty and a late breakaway. Szczesny also made two world-class saves in quick succession, when Palace were just a goal down, which would have changed the game completely with Arsenal also down to 10-men following Arteta's dismissal. Instead, with the hosts pouring forward, Giroud got the all-important second goal and made the win safe.
90' + 3'
Arsenal are just running the clock down, now, keeping hold of the ball against a surely disheartened Palace side.
A minimum of four minutes are to be added on at Selhurst Park.
Assist Aaron Ramsey
Goal Olivier Giroud
GOAL! Giroud makes it 2-0 to 10-man Arsenal and surely secures all three points for the visitors, heading past a helpless Speroni after a fine ball from Ramsey.
Ozil gets into acres of space in the Palace area but, surprisingly, fluffs his lines and slices a volley off-target.
Jedinak finds Chamakh with a searching ball into the Arsenal penalty box but the forward tries to bring it down, allowing Mertesacker to get back and make the interception before the visitors, just about, clear the danger.
Ozil cuts in from the right and crosses towards Giroud and Wilshere, but his ball is just behind both of the Arsenal attackers.
Nacho Monreal drives into the Palace penalty box, beating defenders at will, but his shot is, vitally, blocked by Delaney. Another Arsenal goal would surely kill off the hosts.
Mertesacker gets an important touch on a cross from the Palace right, flicking the ball away from the lurking Chamakh.
My word, either of those two strikes would have been up there with the best goals we've seen this season, but instead Szczesny pulls off two of the saves of the season. You'd perhaps fancy Palace to push on and equalise here.
DOUBLE SAVE! Szczesny tips an absolute powerdrive from Ward over the bar, before making an equally stunning stop to deny Jedinak, whose breathtaking volley looked destined for the top corner. So unlucky, Palace.
It's now Arsenal who are struggling to hold on to the ball, Giroud losing out twice in quick succession as he becomes increasingly isolated.
Things are certainly hotting up at Selhurst Park now, following that red card. The game is becoming stretched, tackles are flying in left, right and centre and it looks like we're in for a tense last 20 minutes or so.
Wilshere is being readied on the Arsenal sideline, with Wenger looking to sure things up here.
Red Card Mikel Arteta
RED CARD! Arteta - Arsenal's goalscorer - is sent off after bringing down Chamakh. He pulls down the Palace forward as he races clear, and looks to be just about the last man. A straight red could possibly be seen as slightly harsh, though, Chamakh still with a lot to do.
Bolasie is really throwing himself about at Selhurst Park, and has made a real difference for Palace who look slightly more dangerous now. Arsenal, meanwhile, nearly play themselves into trouble again by failing to clear the ball from their box on two occasions.
Guedioura tries an ambitious overhead kick but it's closer to the corner flag than Szczesny's goal. Had that gone in it would have certainly made up for the penalty which he gave away.
Yannick Bolasie drives at the Arsenal defence seconds after coming on to the field, handing the Palace crowd a much-needed lift, but the hosts can't quite carve out a chance.
Palace then break with Moxey on the left flank but he gets forced too far out wide and can only find Szczesny with a poor cross.
Gabbidon makes a fine last-ditch challenge, showing Guedioura how it's done, to stop Ozil from creating an easy chance inside the Palace penalty box.
HOW has Giroud missed!? Sagna finds his fellow Frenchman with a cross from the right but the in-form striker gets the connection all wrong and puts the ball wide with his shoulder. He was about two yards out and should have done much better, there.
Guedioura wastes a decent opportunity for the hosts with a poor free-kick which he fires straight into the wall.
Meanwhile Gnabry nearly makes it 2-0 to Arsenal after a mistake from Delaney in the Palace defence, but his shot spins just wide.
So, Palace with it all to do now despite an impressive first half. How different of a game it could be had one of their many chances gone in.
Penalty Goal Mikel Arteta
SCORED! Arteta finds the left corner from the spot to put the Gunners 1-0 up just after the restart, beating Speroni who goes the correct way.
PENALTY TO ARSENAL! Gnabry is brought down by Guedioura who flies in with a very rash tackle on the Germany youngster ...
And we're back underway.
Arsenal have also made 407 passes at a 89% completion rate, compared to Palace's 160 at a completion rate of 75%.
Some half-time stats for you, now. Firstly, Arsenal have so far enjoyed 71% of possession to Crystal Palace's 29%.
So, what started as a slightly boring affair has turned into a pretty decent clash in south London. Make sure you don't go anywhere - I'll be back with the second half shortly.
It's still 0-0 as the two teams head inside for the half-time break. Arsenal started the better of the pair but, in truth, it's been Crystal Palace who have looked the more likely to score. Szczesny has been called into action on a number of occasions with Bannan and Dikgacoi also missing the target when they should have done better. The best chance of the half, though, fell to former Gunner Chamakh - but he failed to make any connection with the ball whatsoever. Wenger's side have showed moments of quality themselves, but they need to display far more penetration if they are to cause Speroni any trouble in the Palace goal.
45' + 1'
The referee blows the half-time whistle.
There'll be a minimum of one minute of added time at Selhurst Park.
Ramsey does brilliantly to keep the ball in on the left-hand side before offloading it to Ozil - the Germany international then finds Giroud in the middle but his attempted effort is tame and Speroni saves.
Jedinak delivers a brilliant ball towards Chamakh in the Arsenal penalty box but the former Gunner jumps far too early and completely misses the ball. It should be 1-0 but the forward gets it all wrong!
Arsenal have a free-kick right on the edge of Palace's penalty box after Gnabry is fouled - Ozil floats it in to the box but the ball is headed clear.
And back down the other end Ramsey forces a neat save from Speroni in the Palace goal, the Welshman firing in a shot from an acute angle.
Palace appeal for handball after Delaney's cut back hits Ramsey - but the referee, correctly, says no. Dikgacoi then heads just wide of the post from the resulting corner.
Back come Arsenal! Cazorla twists and turns in the Palace box after Ramsey plays him in - the Spaniard then drives the ball across the face of the six-yard box with a half-cross-half-shot, but it goes wide and is just out of Giroud's reach.
And now Bannan flashes a left-footed shot just wide of the post. Again the chance comes after Arsenal fail to clear their lines following a free-kick into the box from Mile Jedinak.
Adlene Guedioura now tests the Arsenal keeper with a powerful low shot - though it's straight at the Poland international who saves comfortably once again. The Gunners played themselves into trouble a couple of times in the build-up to that chance, with Palace pressing them with good intensity.
Chamakh fires a decent effort at goal from just outside the Arsenal penalty area but it's a comfortable height for Szczesny, who saves it with ease.
Arsenal continue to enjoy lots of the ball but, as yet, haven't really tested Julian Speroni in the Palace goal. It's easy on the eye but, to be honest, a bit boring at the moment this one.
Per Mertesacker nearly sells his keeper short with a headed pass back but Szczesny is just about able to beat Chamakh to the ball and hack it away.
Dean Moxey makes a mess of an attempted clearance on the edge of his own box, allowing Sagna in behind. The Arsenal defender tries to find a teammate in the middle but his cross is blocked and eventually cleared.
How about this for a stat? Mikel Arteta has completed more passes (29) than the entire Crystal Palace team combined (25). (via Squawka Football)
Great chance for Arsenal as Ozil strolls into the Palace box to latch on to a ball from Gnabry - he tries to pull it back to Giroud but Danny Gabbidon makes an important interception and clears the danger.
Down the other end Barry Bannan heads over the bar for Palace after a quick-fire break from the hosts. The midfielder finds a good amount of space in the Gunners' box and should at least test Wojciech Szczesny.
Shouts for handball from the Arsenal players after Damien Delaney blocks Sagna's low cross while lying on the floor. That looked like a decent claim to me.
It's also interesting to note Gnabry comes on despite Wilshere also being on the Arsenal bench. Makes you wonder how bad the England international's injury is.
It's an early change from Wenger as youngster Serge Gnabry replaces Mathieu Flamini, who looks to be struggling with injury. That's a blow for the Frenchman who has just returned from concussion.
Crystal Palace get hold of the ball with a throw-in on their left-hand side, but they send it straight back up the field and Arsenal come forward again. The hosts need to do more to keep the ball in these early stages.
The first chance of the game goes to Arsenal as Giroud heads narrowly over the bar after a Bacary Sagna cross from the right. As you might expect, the visitors are enjoying most of the early ball as the likes of Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil pass it around with ease.
And Arsenal get us underway.
Kick-off is now just moments away at Selhurst Park ...
And finally; interestingly, even if entirely meaningless, no Premier League team has used more different players than Arsenal and Crystal Palace, both of whom have called on 24. All stats via Opta.
Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud has been in top form this season, netting four times already. The striker has also bagged four assists, which is a Premier League high and also one more than he managed in the whole of the Gunners' league campaign last term.
Crystal Palace have lost five Premier League games in a row - they haven't lost six league matches on the bounce since March 2001.
With kick-off just ten minutes away, let's take a look at some match stats ...
Now, Arsene Wenger's men may be at the top of the Premier League, but they head into this game on the back of a disappointing home loss to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. The Gunners will perhaps still feel slightly aggrieved at the defeat, after dominating the second half, but they'll need to forget about it and move on to show that they can bounce back in south London this afternoon.
Mathieu Flamini returns from concussion for Arsenal this afternoon, while Jack Wilshere starts as a substitute. Santi Cazorla also comes back into the starting line-up after impressing from the bench in the loss to Borussia Dortmund. As for Crystal Palace, caretaker manager Keith Millen recalls ex-Gunner Marouane Chamakh in place of Dwight Gayle, while Kagisho Dikgacoi and Jerome Thomas are among the others who come back in after the heavy loss to Fulham.
Arsenal starting XI: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Flamini, Ramsey, Ozil, Cazorla; Giroud Subs: Fabianski, Monreal, Vermaelen, Wilshere, Rosicky, Gnabry, Bendtner
Crystal Palace starting XI: Speroni; Ward, Delaney, Gabbidon, Moxey; Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Bannan, Thomas, Guedioura; Chamakh Subs: Price, Mariappa, O'Keefe, Puncheon, Kebe, Bolasie, Gayle
Now, let's have a look at today's line-ups …
Hello and good afternoon! Welcome to our play-by-play text commentary of Arsenal's Premier League trip to Selhurst Park. Today sees second-bottom Crystal Palace play their first game without Ian Holloway, after their former manager's recent resignation, while in contrast the Gunners sit at the top of the table and will be hoping to take full advantage of the hosts' situation.
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