Brede Hangeland’s 35th minute goal gave a scare to the hosts and Arsenal needed every minute to eventually overtake Crystal Palace in a 2-1 opening day win at the Emirates.
Laurent Koscielny scored for Arsenal off an Alexis Sanchez feed to level things before halftime, while Aaron Ramsey’s stoppage time goal game the Gunners all three points.
Ramsey’s goal came after an 89th minute red card for Jason Puncheon.
There was little going for Crystal Palace right off the bat, as the UEFA Champions League side fired out of the gates with tiki-taka like possession. But Palace didn’t exactly look discombobulated, despite that fact that manager Tony Pulis quit earlier this week.
In fact the Palace attitude seemed to be, “Offer us a point now and we’ll walk off the pitch.” Combine that with some final passes from Arsenal that consistently missed the mark, and Palace was okay through a half-hour.
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Like many Palace matches, not much happened as they stifled their opponents. That was until they surged ahead in the 35th minute off a corner kick. Hangeland rose to head the ball off the top of his head and home.
At that point, Arsenal had 76 percent of possession. It mattered not.
Then again, Palace fans are singing, “Who need a manager.”
— Sam Borden (@SamBorden) August 16, 2014
Alexis Sanchez made his presence felt with a set piece send to Laurent Koscielny that the defender headed home to level things before half.
There was more than a bit of humor in the match when a referee’s testing of the vanishing spray ended up blasting Santi Cazorla in the face.
Palace shut up shop in the second half, and Arsenal struggled to find a way through a stingy, conservative unit. But Mathieu Debuchy found his shot in the box in the first minute of stoppage time, and Ramsey tapped home the rebound to give Arsenal the win.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Koscielny, Chambers, Gibbs (Monreal, 53′), Arteta, Wilshere (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 69′), Ramsey, Cazorla, Sanchez, Sanogo (Giroud, 62′)
Goals: Koscielny (46), Ramsey (90+1′)
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Dann (Delaney, 74′), Hangeland, Ward, Puncheon, Jedinak, Ledley, Bolasie (O’Keefe, 90+1′), Chamakh, Campbell (Gayle, 85′)
Goals: Hangeland (35)