Wilfried Zaha

Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace: Gunners rampant

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  • Arsenal have scored in all 18 home league games against Palace, totaling 43 goals – an average of 2.38 per game.
  • The Gunners grabbed their first win in six across all competitions
  • Palace haven’t won away in the PL at Arsenal since October 1994

Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday after a stunning start to the game.

The Gunners were 4-0 up after just 22 minutes with Nacho Monreal, Alex Iwobi, Laurent Koscielny and Alexandre Lacazette all on the scoresheet.

Palace grabbed a goal back via Luka Milivojevic late on but the damage was done early on as Arsene Wenger‘s side reminded their doubters just what they’re capable of, even with Alexis Sanchez heading out of the door to Manchester United as he wasn’t involved on Saturday.

With the win Arsenal remain in fifth place on 42 points and are five points off the top four, while Palace remain on 25 place and drop to 13th place.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Arsenal went ahead early as Granit Xhaka‘s corner found Monreal at the back post and the Spanish defender marked his return to the team with a fine header. 1-0.

Soon it was 2-0 as Monreal was played in down the left following some slick passing from Arsenal saw the Spaniard cross for Iwobi to tap home.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The goals kept coming for Arsenal early on with Monreal involved yet again as a ball to the back post found him unmarked and his cutback was bundled home by Koscielny to make it 3-0.

Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere were then involved in a fine team goal as they set up Laceztte to finish and make it 4-0 with less than 23 minutes on the clock.

Monreal was subbed out before half time after suffering a reaction to his recent injury, while Palace almost pulled a goal back just before half time but Wilfried Zaha‘s shot was tipped wide by Petr Cech.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

Palace improved in the second half and could have had a penalty kick with Zaha going down in the box under a challenge from Mohamed Elneny but nothing was given.

Arsenal had a decent chance as Ozil set up Iwobi but the latter had his shot saved well by Wayne Hennessey.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

At the other end Cech kept out Christian Benteke with a great save but he couldn’t keep Palace out. Benteke’s header across goal found Milivojevic and he chested the ball before firing home on the turn. A fine consolation goal for the Eagles.

Crystal Palace 1-0 Burnley: Eagles continue to soar

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  • Palace have lost just one of their last 12 PL games
  • Burnley without a win in seven in all competitions
  • Sako scores for second-straight game

Crystal Palace beat Burnley 1-0 at Selhurst Park on Saturday with Bakary Sako grabbing the only goal of the game.

The Eagles impressed throughout and a combination of brave Burnley defending and slack finishing kept Roy Hodgson‘s men from winning by a more comfortable margin.

With the win Palace move up to 12th in the table on 25 points, while Burnley’s alarming run of form under Sean Dyche continues but they remain in seventh place on 34 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Palace should have had a penalty kick early in the game as Sako was scythed down in the box by James Tarkowski but Michael Oliver failed to award a penalty pick.

Sako made sure Palace took the lead soon after as he cut in from the left and drilled a low shot across Nick Pope and in. 1-0 to Palace.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The Eagles could have been 2-0 up soon after as Wilfried Zaha nipped in front of Pope, poked the ball towards goal but Ben Mee cleared heroically with James McArthur waiting to tap home.

Before the break Christian Benteke towered above Burnley’s defense but his header was off target from the center of the box.

At the other end Sam Vokes put a header just wide, while Wayne Hennessey was forced into a good save from Ashley Barnes as Burnley tried to get an equalizer but Sako volleyed inches wide for Palace.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

Barnes nodded just wide early in the second half as Burnley improved after the break, with Vokes then heading into the side-netting.

Charlie Taylor blocked a Wilfried Zaha shot brilliantly at the other end as the game became a feisty encounter in the latter stages.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Palace held on for the win in comfortable fashion as their home fans celebrated yet another win at the final whistle. The Eagles are soaring up the PL table.

Top Storylines for Premier League Week 23

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With the Premier League back following a week of FA Cup action, let’s take a look at the top storylines heading into this weekend…

Can Liverpool end Man City’s unbeaten run

Manchester City faces another stiff test to its unbeaten run – and perhaps its title aspirations – with a trip to Liverpool to end the Premier League’s Sunday slate.

Sunday (Watch live, 11:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) also marks the start of the post-Philippe Coutinho era, as the Brazilian was finally given his dream transfer to Barcelona last week. It’s a key moment for Liverpool, a team fighting for another top four position as well as this year’s UEFA Champions League knockout stage only to lose one of its top attackers. How will Jurgen Klopp‘s team respond. On the other side, Man City has rebounded well from its scoreless draw with Crystal Palace, with three straight wins as it looks to wrap up the Premier League title by March.

[MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks for Week 23]

Arsenal’s transfer saga continues

Arsenal is expected to sell Alexis Sanchez any day now, but there’s nothing yet pointing to the Chilean forward not being part of the first-team squad in the meantime. The Gunners hit the road to face Bournemouth and Eddie Howe, a man who has been touted as an eventual successor to Arsene Wenger, on Sunday (Watch live, 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com). The Gunners are winless in their last three, including a rough scoreless draw at Chelsea in the League Cup on Wednesday, and will be without Jack Wilshere for at least a game or two. And possibly Alexis Sanchez? Who knows.

Howe will be reminding his men of the repeat fixture last year: where Bournemouth ran riot and took a commanding 3-0 lead, only for Olivier Giroud to lead Arsenal’s comeback to earn a point with a 3-3 draw. Howe will be expecting a win this time around.

Mahrez vs. Hazard at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea and Leicester City have an interesting relationship. Chelsea’s wild 2-2 draw with Tottenham secured Leicester City’s improbable and incredible Premier League title, and with Leicester City’s midfield dynamo N'Golo Kante, the Blues won the title last year.

But perhaps the focus will be on another sought-after player who just passed his four-year mark in Leicester – Riyad Mahrez. With Coutinho – who basically plays a similar position to Mahrez – making a big-money move to Barcelona, the French-born Algerian international may want to show potential suitors that he can provide plenty to a future club, or perhaps he’ll turn these performances into a new contract. It will be fun to see Mahrez go up against former teammates Kante and Danny Drinkwater, as well as Premier League star Eden Hazard (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Spurs look to break into Top 4

Despite all its talent, Tottenham is currently sitting on the outside of the top four and looking in. But perhaps not for long.

If Spurs can get past a more defensively-sound Everton side on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 .m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com) and Liverpool lose to Manchester City, depending on goal differential, Tottenham can jump past Liverpool into the top four, keeping its Champions League hopes alive for next season. It will be a tactical battle on Saturday, with Mauricio Pochettino‘s side looking to break down Sam Allardyce‘s Everton, which is playing somewhat better since he’s taken charge. With Yannick Bolasie back for Everton as well, it will inject more pace into the squad that has been lacking it.

Can Burnley break out of slump

Burnley has had a fantastic first half of the Premier League season. But can the club sustain it for the second half?

It’s now been five-straight games in the Premier League that Burnley has failed to win – six in total – and the team has lost all of the momentum it built up when it momentarily sat in the top four. Now down to seventh, Sean Dyche‘s side looks to arrest its slide with a trip to Roy Hodgson‘s Crystal Palace (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold). Palace are fighting tooth and nail to escape relegation and it will be a difficult road test for Burnley. It’s a time for the likes of Robbie Brady, Stevan Defour and others to step up, while Wilfried Zaha will look to use his past to dangerous effect at home.

Four things we learned from Arsenal v. Chelsea

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What a game. Arsenal and Chelsea played out a pulsating 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday to showcase the bets the Premier League has to offer.

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Arsenal took the lead via Jack Wilshere, but Chelsea scored twice through Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso before Hector Bellerin equalized late on.

Here’s what we learned from an absorbing encounter in north London between the crosstown rivals.


CECH, COURTOIS EXCEL

We rave about sublime goals and attacking play time and time again (we usually do when Arsenal play at home. See: Arsenal v. Tottenham, Arsenal v. Man United and Arsenal v. Liverpool this season) but Wednesday was the time to applaud two top-class goalkeepers who put on a clinic despite conceding two goals each.

Both Thibaut Courtois and the man he took the No.1 jersey from at Chelsea, Petr Cech, excelled as they each made at least three key saves and Courtois was the slightly busier of the two.

Courtois usurped Cech as Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper in 2014 and you can see why it was such a tough decision for Jose Mourinho at the time. Both goalkeepers are very similar in the way they play the game, their size and their strengths.

Both made good stops with their feet and also by coming out and smothering chances with Cech denying Alvaro Morata late on but standing his ground at the crucial moment.

With Courtois said to be in talks with Chelsea over a new contract amid constant links to Real Madrid, he continues to be the main man battling David De Gea as the top goalkeeper in the PL. Yet the experienced head of Petr Cech also reminded us just how good he still is.


WILSHERE CONTINUES RESURGENCE

Jack Wilshere has now started six-straight PL games for Arsenal for the first time since September-October 2013 and he continued his resurgence with a fine goal and an all-action display in central midfield.

Is their still rust after his numerous injuries over the past few years? Yes. Undoubtedly. But the England midfielder is doing his chances of earning a new contract at Arsenal no harm, just as Arsene Wenger said last month.

Wilshere, 26, is at a real crossroads in his career but if he can stay fit we all know the quality he has on the ball and being able to make the Gunners tick in central midfield. He is rusty and at times the pace of the game seemed to nullify his impact, but he popped up to score a goal and tried his best to drive Arsenal on from midfield despite getting a yellow card in the first half for clattering Cesc Fabregas.

The one disappointing moment from Wilshere was when he went down easily under a challenge from the excellent Andreas Christensen in the second half but wasn’t shown a yellow card for simulation. He should have been sent off before he scored Arsenal’s first goal in a breathtaking draw.


VAR DEBATE CONTINUES

The debate of simulation has cropped up time and time again over the festive period and it did so at the Emirates. Two crucial moments in the game both involved questionable dives from star players and both could have been cleared up with the VAR system.

Wilshere should have been handed a second yellow card for simulation by referee Antony Taylor, it was as simple as that and the referee had a decent view but may have been slightly blocked.

Then, the big turning point of the game came as Hazard won a penalty kick. The Belgian went down under minimal contact from Hector Bellerin but Taylor pointed to the penalty spot and Chelsea equalized just as Arsenal were in the ascendancy and looked like running away with things.

Wenger was furious with a late handball decision against his side at West Brom on New Year’s Eve which cost them a win, while the likes of Wilfried Zaha has been accused of diving and Mourinho complained about a handball which could have led to a penalty kick for his side over the festive period.

When Chelsea and Arsenal meet in the in the League Cup semifinals later this month VAR will be used and both managers will probably be very happy with that.

Given VAR’s problems at the Confederations Cup last summer, you can understand why the PL is waiting before bringing it in full time.

But with so many debatable calls and managers upset with decisions from referees, surely now is the time to give the officials extra help and take some of the tougher decisions out of their hands and to a team upstairs watching on TV?


STONE COLD MORATA

Alvaro Morata has been deadly for most of his first season at Chelsea in the Premier League. He wasn’t on Wednesday.

The Spaniard missed three glorious chances, slotting wide after going clean through early on, then dinking over in the second half when one-on-one with Cech, while he hit a tame effort at the Arsenal goalkeeper in stoppage time with the score locked at 2-2.

Morata can’t be faulted for the way he’s settled in the PL since arriving at Chelsea in the summer (12 goals in all competitions so far) but he certainly fluffed his lines in the big moments on Wednesday.

He should have given Chelsea the three points which would’ve pushed them up to second place in the PL table and on the same night that Diego Costa scored on his second debut for Atletico Madrid, the man who replaced him at Chelsea, Morata, proved his isn’t quite as clinical. Not yet, anyway.

Southampton 1-2 Crystal Palace: Eagles seal comeback win

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  • Just 1 defeat in 11 for Palace
  • Saints without a win in nine
  • Eagles climb to 14th in PL table

Crystal Palace fought back to beat Southampton 2-1 at a soggy St Mary’s Stadium on Tuesday.

Saints took the lead via Shane Long early in the game but Palace scored twice in 11 minutes in the second half to turn the games on its head. James McArthur grabbed the equalizer and Luka Milivojevic scored a superb winner to bag all three points for Palace.

With the win Palace move on to 22 points for the season, while Saints remain on 20 points and are only out of the bottom three on goal difference with just four wins in 22 PL games this season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Saints started well with Long and Dusan Tadic going close with the former blazing over inside the first 30 seconds.

The home side continue to do most of the pressing with Pierre Emile Hojbjerg having a fine long-range effort tipped over by Wayne Hennessey.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Long ended his long drought in front of goal in emphatic fashion as Ryan Bertrand‘s cross missed everyone, then Jeremy Pied picked out Long to hammer home the opener. 1-0 to Saints as Long scored his first goal in 36 games for club and country. Relief.

Palace did threaten on the break with Yohan Cabaye, Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke combining well at times but the Eagles failed to create a clear cut chance in the first half in the wind and rain.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

The Eagles made a switch at half time with Cabaye coming off and Patrick Van Aanholt coming on as Palace switched to a 4-4-2.

Former Palace goalkeeper Alex McCarthy saved superbly from Benteke’s deflected shot as the English goalkeeper came up big in his first PL start at St Mary’s.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Palace deservedly equalized with 20 minutes to go as Townsend’s ball into the box was nodded down by Benteke and McArthur arrived to make it 1-1.

Soon after they were ahead as Milivojevic curled home a beauty to make it 2-1 and they held on comfortably with Zaha almost scoring a third with a volley.

Disaster for Southampton. Jubilation for Palace.