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West Ham United
2 February 2014
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: J. Moss
• Attendance: 60005
A. Oxlade-Chamberlain 47', 73'
That wraps up our live-text coverage of this one, I've been Tim Poole and we hope you've enjoyed our commentary. Until next time!
Crystal Palace, on the other hand, remain 17th but are a point above the relegation zone - and just a point off 12th. Next up for Pulis' side is West Brom at home next Saturday. We'll have coverage of that one, as well.
The win takes the Gunners two points above Manchester City, who must now beat Chelsea tomorrow to move back into first place. All eyes on Stamford Bridge for that one! For Arsenal, meanwhile, the tough month of February has at least got off to a good start.
In the second half, however, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stepped up to the plate and scored two fine goals for the hosts - one with a deft volley, one with a strong drive into the box - to give Arsenal all three points.
Arsenal return to the summit of the Premier League, even if it is just for 24 hours, after a comfortable victory over Crystal Palace. Things looked doubtful at half-time, with Tony Pulis' side defending resolutely, as Julian Speroni made several good saves.
FULL-TIME: Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace
90' + 2'
Arsenal now win a throw deep inside the Palace half. Monreal and Kieran Gibbs exchange passes near the corner flag and duly win themselves a corner. The final act is almost over.
Three minutes of injury time given now as Palace keep pushing forward. Their efforts seem as though they won't make a difference but you have to give credit to their work-rate. The away fans, too, are still cheering vociferously. Great spirit.
Worrying signs for Arsenal! Oxlade-Chamberlain pulls up with an injury. He's back up and running but it looks like he may have tweaked something. Wenger and co. will be hoping it's just cramp.
Yellow Card Per Mertesacker
BLOCKED! The free kick hits the wall - and so too the follow-up from Bolasie. It looks like the Gunners will remain untroubled until full-time.
FOUL! Bolasie is brought down just outside the penalty area and Mertesacker receives a booking for his foul. He couldn't stay with the winger as he turned delicately. Free kick in a dangerous position for Palace now. Surely not?
More changes as Ozil comes off for the home side and is replaced by young Serge Gnabry. Giroud also makes way, with Nicklas Bendtner on in his place. Chamakh just missed out on a reunion with another revered Arsenal striker...
Dwight Gayle comes on for Marouane Chamakh, as some Arsenal fans give him a cheeky jeer when he goes off. It was all good-natured, however, though the striker would have preferred to have scored against his former club.
Sagna makes a great tackle on the right-hand side to set up another Arsenal move now. Oxlade-Chamberlain proves he is human by giving it away, though, before Ozil gets it back and hits a deflected shot at Speroni.
It has been a valiant effort from Pulis' side but they were always going to be up against it today. Particularly pleasing for Arsenal fans will be the source of their goals. Many would have questioned Wenger's decision not to sign another striker in January. At least they can look to Oxlade-Chamberlain for inspiration, though!
The Gunners now press for a third, as Arteta, Rosicky and Podolski... have fun, for want of a better phrase, in the final third. They are casually exchanging passes in front of the Palace defence, with the visitors looking keen to conserve their energy now that they are two goals down.
It looks like it's back to the top of the league for Arsenal, while Oxlade-Chamberlain is still going strong, even though he looked exhausted after just 20 minutes. It's been a classy effort from the young midfielder.
That's surely the end of Palace's staunch resistance. This was the scoreline when the sides met earlier on in the season, as well, when Wenger's men left Selhurst Park with a 2-0 win despite Arteta's red card.
Assist Olivier Giroud
Goal Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
GOAL! Oxlade-Chamberlain makes it two for Arsenal! Is that game over? Rosicky gets involved straightaway, playing the ball to the 20-year-old, who then exchanges passes with Cazorla before storming into the penalty box and dispatching a well-taken finish. That's two goals for the day - and two very good goals, at that.
Substitution for the Gunners now, as Tomas Rosicky comes on for Lukas Podolski. How will that change things up, tactically, one wonders?
Arsenal look content with sitting back and letting Palace come at them, though, while they are taking every opportunity to get forward as well. They are definitely looking more like a counterattacking team at the minute, however.
Yellow Card Damien Delaney
SHOT! Bannan has a rare shot at goal for the visitors! It goes way over the bar, however, and Arsenal live to see another day. Can Palace possibly get back into this one? They certainly haven't given up on themselves.
Another booking now - Palace's second. It's Delaney who is yellow-carded after a clumsy challenge on Cazorla. He caught the ball with his lunge but it was a careless tackle, one that could have possibly injured the Spaniard on another day.
Cazorla and Giroud now combine up front for the Gunners, while Podolski, too, is involved in the build-up. The move ends with Oxlade-Chamberlain playing a great ball into the area - but a strong tackle from Danny Gabbidon stops Podolski in his tracks.
Less than half an hour to go at the Emirates, then, and Wenger will be a much happier man than he was at half-time. As long as his side don't concede, the Frenchman won't care if he wins by one goal or ten, especially as his side continue to press in this second half.
POOR! The corner is cleared but only as far out as the Palace midfield. The ball is then played straight back into the area but Delaney gets his header all wrong, as it sails wide. Arsenal almost gift possession straight back to Palace with some short passing from Szczesny and Monreal - but they just about survive.
Potential injury trouble here, though, as Joel Ward is down injured. Play continues without him and Bolasie, now operating on the right, surges forward and has to be stopped by Cazorla. Corner to the visitors...
POOR! Oxlade-Chamberlain gets a bit ahead of himself, however. The initial corner is cleared and, after one or two passes in midfield, the Arsenal midfielder ambitiously tries to double his tally from distance. His shot goes way over the bar, though.
CORNER! Podolski makes another effective run down the left-hand side and wins yet another corner for the Gunners. They are really putting the pressure on the visitors now.
Koscielny finds Cazorla with a good pass to the right, though the Spaniard's attempts to whip the ball into the area come to nothing, as Speroni collects with ease.
Bannan's first action almost plays Puncheon in with a delicate pass into the area. The Arsenal defence hold firm, though. Can they kill this game off with a second?
CHANGE! Crystal Palace are making a change now, as Cameron Jerome makes way. Unfortunately, his last action proved a wasteful one, while he hasn't had his best game in a Palace shirt overall, anyway. Barry Bannan is his replacement.
SIDE-NETTING! It's Podolski again! He is played the ball in the box and has a couple of yards of space. However, a better choice might have been - like Jerome - to pass the ball back to one of his team-mates in the box. As it happened, he blasted the ball at goal and it hit the side-netting from a tight angle.
Podolski now makes a great run into the box and wins a corner for the home side! This game has really opened up in this second half. Pulis will not want that for the visitors, though...
Jerome should probably have squared it back to Chamakh, though, and could have done better with his finish! The resulting corner comes to nothing but that's a warning for Arsenal. Oxlade-Chamberlain has put them ahead but their work is far from over here.
RESPONSE! Palace look to get straight back into this as Puncheon, who has switched wings this half, plays a great ball into the box. Chamakh is there and heads it onto Jerome, who is denied by Szczesny at the near post. What a save!
Goal Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
GOAL! Oxlade-Chamberlain puts Arsenal ahead! A move that starts on the right-hand side is perfected by Cazorla, who takes the ball into the middle and plays a lovely chipped pass into the box. There, Oxlade-Chamberlain is waiting and sends the ball home with a fantastic finish on the volley. A really delicate piece of work from the midfielder there.
Assist Santi Cazorla
The second half is underway! We've had a foul already: Arteta brings down Jerome.
So can Arsene Wenger's men break down this resilient Palace unit, or will they drop points for the second game in a row? Stay with us for the second half to find out!
As things stand, a point will take the visitors up to 15th in the Premier League, while a draw will leave Arsenal in second. If Manchester City beat Chelsea tomorrow, though, the Gunners will be three points behind Manuel Pellegrini's men.
Crystal Palace will be delighted with their first-half performance, after defending resolutely throughout, while also managing to create the odd chance. Tony Pulis has, as usual, done his homework and it will take a lot to beat his side in the second half.
So a disappointing half for the home side, who only managed to create a handful of clearcut chances, with Julian Speroni only really troubled twice. His first important save denied Nacho Monreal after he was played in by Mesut Ozil. Then, he dived to his right to stop an Ozil cross from sailing into the back of the net.
HALF-TIME: Arsenal 0-0 Crystal Palace
Two minutes of injury time have been added and it's been a frustrating half for the home side. Palace have kept them at bay and will be delighted with a point here. A draw would be of no use whatsoever to title-chasing Arsenal, though, and Wenger will likely make changes in the second half.
The visitors break down the right-hand side now but their cross into the box goes straight to Szczesny. Immediately thereafter, Podolski goes down in midfield after a rogue challenge. Wenger does not look too elated on the touchline.
Yellow Card Marouane Chamakh
BOOKING! One foul too many from Palace, as Chamakh concedes yet another free kick. The set-piece comes to nothing for Arsenal but they now know a Palace striker is one yellow card away from being sent off...
A poor clearance almost ends up with Podolski capitalising but Arsenal continue to press. In truth, they have done far too much in the build-up to the final third and nothing at all when they get the ball forward. Looking at this first half - and their 2-2 draw with Southampton - you'd have to say it's not their best run of the season by any stretch.
It's their first corner of the game but it's cleared instantly, while Puncheon's attempts to get the ball back into the area, once again, end up with him conceding a throw. It has to be said, though, that Palace do not look scared of their opponents today.
At this rate, Hennessey will have a tough task getting into this Palace starting line-up, with Speroni in this form. Straight up the other end, though, the visitors win themselves a corner...
STOP! He's done it again! A lot of Arsenal pressure now and, this time, they advance down the right flank. The ball is played into Sagna in the box but Speroni rushes out to get to it before the full-back.
Cleared! Speroni is involved yet again, as intricate footwork from Giroud almost pays off in the box. The Argentine goalkeeper manages to get hold of a loose ball, however, and thump it out for a throw-in.
SAVE! Ozil takes the free kick and it evades everyone in the box! But Speroni lunges down to his right to save. Brilliant reflexes to deny the goal and it goes off for a corner, which is then headed away.
Jason Puncheon now has the ball down the right-hand side but wastes the chance to cross it into the area after trying to beat his man! It goes off for a throw-in and Arsenal manage to work the ball upfield and win a free kick after a foul on Giroud by Damien Delaney.
With half an hour gone, we've had just one shot on target from both sides so far today! That shot was Arsenal's, although it didn't amount to much. It's been a battle of possession in midfield during this first half.
Arsenal take the free kick quickly but use it for a slow, patient attack. That is halted by another good challenge from Bolasie, though, who has been causing plenty of problems down the left flank. His run is ended by a foul as Palace win themselves a free kick.
Giroud now goes down claiming to have been fouled, although it looked more like a slip. Moments later, Arteta is brought down by Chamakh, with a free kick this time being given.
POOR! Oxlade-Chamberlain tries to switch the play from one wing to the other but his pass is mis-hit and goes out for a goal kick. The 20-year-old looks tired already and surely won't last the 90 minutes. But his energy has been useful to the Gunners going forward.
The set-piece is cleared, though, but only as far out as Oxlade-Chamberlain. His shot is blocked for a throw-in and Arsenal continue to press down the middle. This is more like what we are used to, after that period of relative pressure from the away side.
CORNER! Lovely build-up play from Arsenal now as Cazorla, Ozil and Giroud combine in a way reminiscent of Wilshere's wonder-goal against Norwich. They win a corner for their efforts...
Yannick Bolasie now muscles his way past Sagna, although German defender Per Mertesacker is there to dispossess him with a fine tackle. What a superb buy he turned out to be by Wenger, despite his exasperating lack of pace.
Now Arsenal look to get back into their stride but Cazorla plays a loose pass on the edge of the area and it is cut out with ease by the Palace defenders. Oxlade-Chamberlain is next to give it away! Are the hosts missing the likes of Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini?
FOUL! Another foul from Jedinak! He isn't booked as the clumsy challenge is in the middle of the pitch, away from harm. However, that's his second foul of the game - in less than 20 minutes. He needs to be careful.
Are Pulis' side starting to settle down, here? Arsenal are seeing less and less of the ball and haven't had a chance to speak of for minutes. Their supporters are sensing the shift in momentum and aren't hesitating to express their frustration.
That said, Chamakh has been a different player this season, especially under Pulis. He was fantastic against Tottenham recently, while he also achieved the significant feat of scoring at Stamford Bridge.
Interestingly, the visitors are starting to get more and more into this now - and it's Chamakh again causing the problems. This time, he advances towards the penalty area, turns Laurent Koscielny and feeds the ball through to Puncheon. The pass is poor, however, and rolls out for a goal kick.
And more great awareness from Szczesny, as the Polish goalkeeper sees the ball out for a goal kick with comfort. Some good moments from the visitors there - but nothing Arsenal couldn't handle.
Great intervention by Wojciech Szczesny! Marouane Chamakh of all people was running at goal and the Arsenal goalkeeper needed to come out early to stop him from unleashing a shot. Imagine if he scored against his former club?
A rare venture into the Arsenal half for Palace now, though, as the ball is played into Cameron Jerome in the penalty area but the striker is given offside. Jerome worked under Pulis at Stoke City and has looked a much more dangerous striker since the former Potters boss has come in at Palace.
Cazorla shoots... And that's not one for the highlight reels. Out the ball goes, yards over the bar. However, a positive statistic for home supporters: Arsenal have had no less than 74% of possession so far.
The home crowd are in good voice here and the Gunners now win a free kick in an advanced position. Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski stand over it. But who will take it?
The left-back, in truth, looked as though he was trying to square the ball across the box in mid-air. Speroni's intervention was needed nevertheless. Will this Arsenal dominance continue?
CHANCE! A great save from Julian Speroni! The visitors are really struggling to get hold of the ball as Arsenal push them deeper and deeper. Oxlade-Chamberlain is the architect from deep but it is Mesut Ozil who plays the ball into the box, as Nacho Monreal gets on the end of it and is stopped by Speroni.
Arsenal use the set-piece to keep attacking down the right, until Oxlade-Chamberlain spreads the ball out to his left wisely. He is looking to get as involved as he can early on, although this particular move ends as Olivier Giroud, appealing for a corner, lets the ball go out for a goal kick.
Well, we've only had three minutes and it's all Arsenal, despite a promising first bout of possession from the away side. The only problem they've had is trying to get the ball back from the hosts. Their visible frustration results in Mile Jedinak giving away an early free kick.
An even opening few exchanges from both sides, as Crystal Palace show that they are not shy to try and take Arsenal on in possession. The home side are already demonstrating their slick passing style in return, however, as Mikel Arteta and Bacary Sagna in particular exchange passes with ease.
And we're off!
Right, we're moments away from kick-off. Can Arsenal return to the top of the league? Or will Pulis' Palace side spoil the party and continue their mid-season resurgence? Stay with us to find out!
And on Palace's bench, meanwhile, we have new signing Wayne Hennessey, who has Premier League experience from his time at Wolves. The goalkeeper joined Pulis' side on deadline day but has not been thrown straight into the starting line-up. He could, however, be one to watch as the season progresses.
Back to the positive news for Gunners fans, though, and Gedion Zelalem - who only just turned 17 - has made Wenger's bench today. Could he possibly be late match-winner for the home side? His team-mates will probably hope it doesn't get to that stage...
Arsene Wenger's only January signing, of course, was designed to ease that particular problem - but Kim Kallstrom, brought in on loan from Spartak Moscow, is himself currently injured and could be out for at least a few weeks.
Those statistics might just bring an optimistic smile to an Arsenal fan's face, while the news that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is starting this afternoon would only increase it. The 20-year-old looks to be starting in central midfield - welcome news with the Gunners so light in the middle of the park.
But there is a lot at stake for visitors Crystal Palace, too, as a win could take them as high as 11th. Under Tony Pulis, Palace are unbeaten in their last three home games. Away from home, however, they have won just one of their last five - only scoring twice in that time.
Arsenal can return to the summit of the Premier League table with a win today, as Manchester City are yet to play this weekend and will host Chelsea on Monday night.
Palace subs: Hennessey, Mariappa, McCarthy, Gayle, Wilbraham, Guedioura, Bannan.
Crystal Palace starting line-up: Speroni; Gabbidon, Delaney, Ward, Parr; Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Puncheon, Bolasie; Chamakh, Jerome.
Arsenal subs: Fabianski, Rosicky, Bendtner, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Gnabry, Zelalem.
Let's start with today's team news. Hosts Arsenal first: Szczesny; Mertesacker, Sagna, Monreal, Koscielny; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arteta, Cazorla, Podolski, Ozil; Giroud.
Good afternoon and welcome to live-text commentary of Arsenal against Crystal Palace! I'm your host Tim Poole and I'll be guiding you through all today's action.
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