Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal | Pedestrian Gunners grind out a win

Contrary to most pre-match opinions, this actually turned out to be a competitive fixture and the result was in the balance until the last few minutes. This was largely due to a lacklustre display from Arsenal, good old fashioned hard work from Palace and a dodgy sending off.

I can’t make my mind up whether Arsenal’s first half showing was down to fatigue, complacency or a bit of both. What is certain is that when presented with a massed defence intent on clogging up the areas you like to play pretty football in, the only way to break it down is to move the ball with speed and intelligence. Quick one-twos, willing movement and a lively tempo are the order of the day, but Arsenal played a casual game of keep ball for 45 minutes, not even managing a shot on target so ineffective was their attacking play.

It didn’t help losing Flamini so early on, even against a side who were never going to attack us much. That’s because he not only gives the defence vital cover, he also zips around the turf throwing himself into challenges and hassling opponents, automatically raising the tempo of our game. Tempo was something which was sorely lacking.

I don’t think Arteta would’ve been sent off had Flamini been on the pitch either. To allow a breakaway from our own corner leaving Arteta against Chamakh was criminal. It was a shocking piece of defensive play from Wenger’s team, despite the fact the red card was harsh. Not only was Arteta’s clash with Chamakh more of a coming together than a foul by the Spaniard, Chamakh had also clumsily knocked the ball down the channel instead of towards goal, allowing Koscielny to come around on the cover, and was still a long way from goal.

Giroud celebrates his Arsenal goalThankfully by that stage we were 1-0 up thanks to Arteta’s cool finish from the spot after Gnabry was felled in the area straight after the restart. We had immediately upped our game, hopefully after a stiff talking to from the boss, who can’t have been happy with the first half snooze-fest.

Giroud should’ve added a second when he missed a simple header from Sagna’s cross, but that apart we didn’t really look like scoring. Once Arteta was in his early bath though, we needed Szczesny to be on top form as he pushed one shot onto the bar and was quickly in position to palm another piledriver away for a corner as Palace sought an unlikely equaliser.

The game was put beyond doubt in injury time when Giroud (who worked hard all game and is in desperate need of a deserved rest) nodded home Ramsey’s clever dinked pass. Job done, but not in the manner many had predicted.

Today reminded me so much of our run in last season, when we were grinding out victories without playing particularly well. There are two ways to look at this — either it’s positive to win when not at your best, or it’s negative because play like that against Chelsea, Liverpool, Dortmund and Manchester United and we’ll be staring at four defeats on the spin. I think both trains of thought are valid.

We play the four matches I mentioned above in the next 15 days, at the end of which we’ll know just how improved Wenger’s side really are from last season. I feel we are heading in the right direction at last, but the league table paints a misleading picture on this display.

Follow oohtobeagooner on Facebook and Twitter for more latest Arsenal transfer news, injury news, team news and rumours.
  1. RedandDread

    A good win, however we played. It wasn’t that long ago where we were accused up & down the land of not being able to win ugly. Like another criticism put to bed, we can’t defend set-pieces, this team has shown that one character it has much more than any Wenger team of recent years is determination & grit. Add that to the obvious touch of class we have in many players and you get a very good team.

    The pitch was a slow as snail in a wheelchair and this severely affected our passing game, particularly in an around the opponents box.

    Credit to Palace for a very dogged effort and I suppose if they had come away with something,it would have only been everything Arsenal who would have complained.

    The team looks tired but it’s winning way much more than it’s losing and that’s a good thing. This is not a great team, yet ,but it has great spirit.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Philbet

    There are some fans and blog writers out there who are only happy when we don’t play well or lose.there are some real fans who support whether we win or lose, i guess with the frequency of your posts (only coming after losses or dodgy performances), you are in the former camp.Will your posts appear more often if the next month pans out badly for the Arsenal? Will your keyboard need a new cooling system or will you slink back into semi-obscurity?

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Gooner Steve

      There are some fans out there who really don’t like reading anything remotely negative about their team, even a bit of constructive criticism. Unless bloggers say Arsenal are superb at all times and Wenger is infallible, they throw a strop.

      If you’d care to point out which critical parts of my report you disagreed with, perhaps we could have a debate about it. Was I wrong to suggest we were a bit pedestrian today and lacked tempo? Was I wrong to say we looked fatigued? Was I wrong to say leaving Arteta one on one with Chamakh from our own corner was poor? Was I wrong to suggest that if we play like that in our next four matches we’ll get beaten?

      If so I apologise — here is my amended report just for you Philbet: “Arsenal won, we are brilliant and we will win the league.”

      PS – I have given praise plenty of times this season. You must’ve missed Arsenal 2-0 Napoli | Time to take this Arsenal side seriously for example.

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0