Arsenal welcomed Crystal Palace to the Emirates, aiming to make it two back-to-back wins. Mesut Ozil missed the fixture due to illness, meaning that Alex Iwobi was delegated the number 10 role. Alexis Sanchez and Lucas Perez started on either side of him with Giroud up front and Mohamed Elneny was given a start, his last as he heads off to represent Egypt in the African Cup of Nations.
Arsenal opened the scoring in the 17th minute thanks to a Alexis Sanchez cross, and an outrageous scorpion kick by Olivier Giroud which hit the underside of the bar on its way in – probably the Frenchman’s best goal of his career. Alex Iwobi scored the second with his head, when the ball landed in Palace’s penalty box, and Iwobi was first to react.
So let’s have a look at Arsenal’s best performers and pick our ‘Man of the Match’…
A) Hector Bellerin
Hector Bellerin has made some noticeable appearances in the previous few fixtures since his return from injury and against Crystal Palace, he started the match with confidence and composure. He provided his usual width and pace on the right flank and contributed much more compared to Lucas Perez who was struggling to find his fluency on the right. In defence, he had nothing much to do and was solid. His pace down the flank is vital for Arsenal’s attacks, especially with the likes of Perez looking to cut inside.
B) Granit Xhaka
Granit Xhaka bossed the midfield against Palace with his passes and through balls – which were vital to Arsenal’s attacks. He is learning his trade in the Premier League under Arsene Wenger and it seems his defensive contributions have improved as he was solid defensively and made some good tackles to dispossess the opposition. He restricted himself to avoid unnecessary tackles and stayed composed throughout but it was his distribution that made him stand out. With Cazorla out, Arsenal need a midfielder who can pass from deep and start the attacks.
C) Olivier Giroud
Olivier Giroud’s 86th minute Boxing Day winner arguably earned him a spot today and it took him only 17 minutes to produce an outrageous scorpion kick to give Arsenal the lead. Arguably a ‘Goal of the Season’ contender and certainly one of the best Giroud has ever scored. Moreover, Giroud did well to direct headers towards his teammates to create something meaningful but in the end, it was the Goal of the Season contender that stole the headlines, which Giroud claimed to be as ‘lucky’.
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