Arsenal v Crystal Palace: Story of the match
Alexis Sanchez was missing from the squad ahead of his impending move to Manchester United.
Arsenal eased to a 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday as Alexis Sanchez was left out of the matchday squad with a move to Manchester United still expected to go ahead.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said earlier in the week that the Chile international could be involved if the deal had not been completed but he was again left out – although unlike last week where Arsenal lost 2-1 at Bournemouth without the forward, his team-mates made light work of his absence here against a poor Palace side.
The hosts were four goals up inside the opening quarter of the game with Nacho Monreal, Alex Iwobi, Laurent Koscielny and Alexandre Lacazette all hitting the target, before Luka Milivojevic struck a consolation for the visitors as Wenger’s side won their first match of 2018 to move within five points of the Premier League top four.
What they said
Tweet of the match
Arsenal are struggling to cope without Sanchez. It’s taken them 14 minutes to score 3.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) January 20, 2018
– Mesut Ozil
Gunners defender Nacho Monreal was influential in the early stages with a goal and two assists but he was substituted as an injury precaution in the 34th minute, leaving Mesut Ozil as the hosts’ stand-out performer. The Germany international was heavily involved in all of Arsenal’s slick interplay in the opening period and capped his performance with a sensational assist before being given a deserved rest with 18 minutes remaining.
Moment of the match
The Gunners were in complete control when they made it 4-0 with a superb team goal in the 22nd minute. Creative forward Ozil played a one-two with Jack Wilshere close to the edge of the Palace penalty area and then produced a sensational back-heeled flick which gave goalscorer Alexandre Lacazette time to find the bottom right corner.
View from the bench
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has endured a torrid 2018 so far but he at last has something to smile about. Having been knocked out of the FA Cup by Championship Nottingham Forest, collected just one Premier League point from a possible six, and seen star man Alexis Sanchez edge closer to the exit door, the Frenchman has come in for heavy criticism in recent weeks. His team gave the perfect response to the testing period though as they raced into a four-goal lead to wrap up the match inside 22 minutes. Palace boss Roy Hodgson warned in the build up to this game that his team are still involved in a relegation battle and, on this evidence, he was not wrong.
Stat of the match
Alexandre Lacazette’s strike was Arsenal’s 500th goal in the Premier League scored by a Frenchman, excluding own goals. Patrick Vieira was the first when he claimed a 90th-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Derby at Highbury in December 1996.
Arsenal: Petr Cech 7 (out of 10), Hector Bellerin 7, Laurent Koscielny 7, Shkodran Mustafi 7, Nacho Monreal 8, Granit Xhaka 6, Mohamed Elneny 7, Jack Wilshere 7, Mesut Ozil 8, Alex Iwobi 7, Alexandre Lacazette 7. Subs: Ainsley Maitland-Niles (for Monreal, 34) 6, Reiss Nelson (for Ozil, 72) 6, Sead Kolasinac (for Iwobi, 82) 6.
Crystal Palace: Wayne Hennessey 5, Timothy Fosu-Mensah 6, Martin Kelly 5, James Tomkins 6, Patrick Van Aanholt 6, Yohan Cabaye 6, James McArthur 5, Luka Milivojevic 6, Wilfried Zaha 6, Bakary Sako 5, Christian Benteke 6. Subs: Jairo Riedewald (for Cabaye, 90) 5.
Who’s up next?
Arsenal v Chelsea (Carabao Cup semi-final second leg, January 24)
West Ham v Crystal Palace (Premier League, January 30)
Who is your sportstar of the year?
Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.
Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.