Arsenal extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to five points with a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.
The Eagles, without a manager following Ian Holloway’s departure, produced a spirited display and frustrated Arsenal for 45 minutes. But all their good work was undone a minute after the interval as Adlene Guedioura felled Serge Gnabry in the box.
Mikel Arteta made no mistake from the penalty spot. The goalscorer was sent off later in the game for a professional foul, but Arsenal stood firm, and Olivier Giroud made the game safe with a late goal.
The tone for the contest was set in the opening exchanges as Arsenal enjoyed a long spell of possession, with Palace retreating into a defensive pattern. But for all the possession, Arsenal struggled to craft clear-cut openings.
The Gunners were dealt a blow on eight minutes when Mathieu Flamini limped off with an apparent groin injury.
If that was Flamini's groin strained, then we just lost him for Chelsea, Liverpool, Dortmund & United. #AFC— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 26, 2013
The departure of Flamini disrupted Arsenal’s flow. They were almost undone by a former Gunner, as Marouane Chamakh forced a save from Wojciech Szczesny when letting fly from 20 yards.
Szczesny saved from Guedioura and then saw Barry Bannan curl a shot wide, as Palace enjoyed a decent spell of play.
Arguably the best chance of the opening half fell Chamakh’s way on 45 minutes, but he badly misjudged the flight of the ball, and the chance went begging.
Palace were applauded off by their buoyant fans, but the mood changed moments after the break. That's when Guedioura needlessly took down Gnabry, and referee Chris Foy pointed to the spot.
Arteta coolly tucked the ball into the corner.
Arsenal were in control, but the dynamic changed 25 minutes from time when Arteta was shown a straight red card for a foul on Chamakh. The Gunners midfielder was deemed to be the last man by referee Foy.
Arsenal were indebted to keeper Szczesny for keeping them in front with two stunning saves. He flung himself to his right to tip a drive from Joel Ward onto the bar and then, from the resulting corner, produced an even better stop to keep out Mile Jedinak.
Palace chased the game and were caught out in the dying moments, as Aaron Ramsey picked out Giroud who nodded home the clincher.
Szczesny was voted man of the match by BT Sport, and he says the Gunners are full of confidence at the present time.
Speaking to BT Sport, the keeper said: "We are coming into every game believing we are going to get the three points. We are very confident at the moment; we are not afraid of anyone and are enjoying our football, which seems to bring the best out in us."
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was delighted with his side and felt they controlled the game.
Speaking to BT Sport, Wenger said: "We showed a lot of resilience and patience and organisation. It was a convincing win as when we were down to 10 men, we mastered the game. We dealt well with their long balls, and every time we came out in the final 10 minutes, we looked like we would score. And we got one in the final two minutes."
Wojciech Szczesny B+
The keeper has had his critics, but he has not looked back since winning back his place in the team towards the end of last season. He had a fairly quiet time in the first half, but the two saves he made to deny Ward and Jedinak in the second half were out of the top drawer.
Olivier Giroud: B
It looked like a frustrating afternoon for the French striker as he passed up a couple of decent chances, but he kept plugging away and was rewarded with a late goal. The positive about Giroud’s play was that he kept offering himself as an outlet. Time and again he held the ball up well, which eased the pressure when Arsenal had 10 men.
Serge Gnabry: B
The youngster was thrown into the action inside 10 minutes on account of the injury to Flamini. He settled in well to his role and was a willing runner. He nearly won a penalty when felled on the edge of the box in the first half, and he did win a spot kick at the start of the second half. He was sacrificed following Arteta’s dismissal, but his contribution was excellent.
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