Sanchez not missed as Arsenal dismantle sorry Palace
A blistering start saw the Gunners strike four times inside the opening quarter of the match
Arsenal eased to a 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday as Alexis Sanchez was left out of the squad ahead of his expected move to Manchester Untied.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said that the Chile international could be involved if the deal had not been completed, but he was again omitted.
Unlike last week, however, when 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.
Luka Milivojevic struck a consolation for visitors as Wenger’s side won their first match of 2018 to move within five points of the Premier League top four.
Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere both shone in a side which could soon boast more attacking options, should Henrikh Mkhitaryan join as part of the Sanchez deal, while Borussia Dortmund officials confirmed an enquiry had been made about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
That sort of firepower was not required to beat an out-of-sorts Palace, who could hold out for just six minutes at the Emirates Stadium.
Iwobi had the game’s first chance, but saw his shot tipped over by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and from the resulting corner Monreal arrived unmarked to head home Granit Xhaka’s delivery with ease.
The second goal was not long in coming as Monreal turned provider for Iwobi and the Nigeria international stretched out to steer a low cross past the helpless Hennessey.
Roy Hodgson watched on glumly as Arsenal added another from their next corner as the static Palace defence allowed Monreal to drift it at the back post and cross for the fit-again Koscielny to bundle in a third.
Arsenal were in complete control and it showed with the superb move which led to them moving four goals ahead at the midway point of the first half.
Wilshere picked up the ball in plenty of space and fed Ozil, whose deft flick was perfect for Lacazette to slot home his first goal since the 3-1 defeat to Manchester United on December 2.
Palace finally forced Petr Cech into his first save, but it was a routine one for the Arsenal goalkeeper as Bakary Sako’s shot was a weak one.
Monreal’s afternoon came to an end as he limped off with a hamstring injury, with Cech making a superb save to push a deflected Wilfried Zaha shot behind before the break.
Arsenal were a little wasteful at the start of the second half, but still created chances, Iwobi coming close to a second only for Hennessey to make a smart stop.
Cech produced a similar save at the other end as Christian Benteke found himself free on goal, but his wait for a 200th Premier League clean sheet continued as Milivojevic pulled a goal back with a well-taken volley.
Yohan Cabaye was taken off on a stretcher in the closing stages as Arsenal cruised to a much-needed win.