Four things we learned: Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace

Arsenal a hosted a struggling Crystal Palace side as they looked to start 2017 with a win. The game marked Allardyce’s first game in charge of his new team, following Alan Pardew’s abrupt sacking, although it won’t be a game that Allardyce will remember. Here are the four things we learned:

In what is a goal that will be remembered for a very long time, Olivier Giroud scored Arsenal’s first with a piece of sublime skill. The Frenchman returned to the lineup as Arsenal’s leading striker, resulting in Sanchez being shifted to the left-hand side, where, in fairness, he didn’t have the greatest of games. Another change was the loss of Ozil through illness which meant Iwobi was shifted into the 10 role, which the youngster thrived in and scored Arsenal’s second.  So here are the four things we learned from the game:

1. Iwobi warms to the No. 10 role

Mesut Özil’s omission from the starting XI was the main talking point before Arsenal’s first Premier League game of 2017. With the German sidelined due to illness, young Alex Iwobi shifted from the wing to a more central role to act as the Gunners’ playmaker. In a shift which saw a few miscued passes as well as some uninspiring shoulder-to-shoulder duels, the Nigerian eventually found his feet and began dictating play. Acting as the pivot from defence to attack, Iwobi looked to get the ball from Elneny and Xhaka and played with an attacking mindset. To cap it all off, Iwobi then found himself involved in a much-needed goal to help Arsenal seal the three points.

2. Giroud shines once again

With Giroud’s second start of the season and the first of the calendar year, expectations were high for the striker to replicate his previous start and goal. Fans were not disappointed when the Frenchman scored an outrageous goal to put the hosts ahead; his current form will create a new dilemma for Arsène Wenger.

The prolific form of Giroud could see Sanchez shifted to the wing in order to accommodate for the Frenchman. Although on the whole, Sanchez ahs been superb this season, the change could see the Gunners offer a far bigger and more adaptable threat over the next few weeks. Giroud’s hold up play and passing fits neatly into Arsenal’s style of play and works to bring the likes of Sanchez, Walcott and Özil into the attack, moreover, the Frenchman is relatively fresh having been used mostly as a substitute this season. 

3. Perez underwhelming

Having played tree quarters of the game against Crystal Palace, Lucas failed to leave a memorable mark. Missing a clearcut chance early on was perhaps the highlight of Perez’s performance, with the remainder being filled by poor positioning, poor passing and the inability to utilise his right foot.

The former Deportivo man is still looking for his first Premier League goal, and the struggles caused by his lack of confidence and the missing confidence on his weaker side indicate it will be a long wait yet. Wenger will look to involve the Spaniard more in the upcoming Cup fixtures and will be hoping that the striker will manage to build up his confidence. On his day, Lucas has shown the ability to score and fans will be eager to see more of that.

4. Partly clinical Arsenal

The Gunners put two goals past a visiting and clearly struggling Crystal Palace side, with Sam Allardyce still looking to acclimatise to his new surroundings. Though Arsenal were clearly the better team and dominated nearly the entire 90 minutes, they only managed to score two goals against a defence which looked comical at times. The inaccuracy of Sanchez is doing little to help the goal difference but when you’re struggling, you need your squad players to make an impact, that’s the tell tail sign of a Championship contending club. The Gunners need to put the sides they dominate to the sword in order to avoid the mishaps of the past few weeks. 

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