|MAN OF THE MATCH
Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal
Arsenal kept up their wonderful run of results on their travels (this particular one is a much shorter distance) as they beat Crystal Palace on Saturday to maintain their position at the perch of the Barclays Premier League standings. That’s the sixth win in eight away matches in all competitions. Only two draws, both against West Brom, smirching what would have been a flawless record.
Mikel Arteta scored the opening goal but got sent off after a tangle with former Gunner, Marouane Chamakh. Olivier Giroud struggled all match long but popped up at a crucial moment to power in the secondgoal of the game to secure all three points for Arsenal. However, there was a period between the red card and Giroud’s goal which was the defining moment of the match.
Wojciech Szczesny was the main man during that defining period. Crystal Palace was Szczesny’s 120thmatch for Arsenal. Still only 23 years of age, the big Pole has already hit 25 per cent of David Seaman’s 564 appearances for the best club in North London. Remarkable achievement for Szczesny, as the position is more commonly owned by keepers of older persuasion.
It was the period where Crystal Palace's players sensed their chance to get back on level terms with Arsenal, after Arteta was shown a straight red card. They had wind in their sails as they peppered the Arsenal goal with shots. Two of them stood out and it happened consecutively.
First, Joel Ward was allowed to run past a couple of Arsenal players, cutting in from the right hand side before unleashing a shot that was heading towards the top corner of Arsenal’s goal. That was before Szczesny got his fingertips to the ball to push it out for a corner kick. From the ensuing corner, Mile Jedinak thrashed a volley that was faster and more precise than Ward’s shot. However, Szczesny’s reaction was swift and again, showing his tremendous agility to palm away the ball.
Goalkeepers at big clubs don’t often get called into action, especially when facing middle or bottom tier teams. It is about their concentration level to be able to produce a save after 50 or 60 minutes of watching the game being played on the other half of the pitch. Szczesny ticked that box in this match at Selhurst Park.