Arsenal held off a late onslaught by Crystal Palace to beat the Eagles 2-1 at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
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Arsene Wenger’s side were 2-0 up at half time thanks to a Santi Cazorla penalty and a predatory finish from Olivier Giroud but Palace hung in there and got what proved to be nothing but a late consolation goal from Glenn Murray despite sustained pressure.
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With the win Arsenal momentarily moved into third spot on 48 points with Southampton, Liverpool and Tottenham playing on Sunday, while Palace are on 27 points and just five points off the relegation zone.
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The Gunners were handed the perfect start as Danny Welbeck was tripped in the box by Palace defender Papa Souare. Cazorla stepped up and stroke home the spot kick confidently to put Arsenal 1-0 ahead after eight minutes.
Palace came flying back with Wilfried Zaha and Jason Puncheon causing plenty of problems out wide but the final product evaded Palace as Arsenal weathered the storm.
On the stroke of half time the Gunners doubled their lead with Alexis Sanchez slotting in Welbeck and despite his shot being well-saved by Julian Speroni, Giroud was on hand to tap home his 12th goal of the season. 2-0 to the Arsenal.
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In the second half, Arsenal should have gone 3-0 up early on as Mesut Ozil set up Sanchez but the Chilean winger sent his effort inches wide of the far post. Palace, to their credit, kept pressing forward and the arrival of Yannick Bolasie and Glenn Murray off the bench injected new life into Alan Pardew’s side.
The two subs combined late on as Murray hooked home to make it 2-1 and set up a grandstand finish. Moments later Murray flashed a header onto the post as Arsenal went from looking comfortable to hanging on for dear life.
In the end Wenger’s men did, but Palace certainly made them work for a fifth win in six.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Dann, Delaney, Souare, Mutch, Ward, Ledley (Ameobi, 80′), Puncheon, Zaha, Gayle (Murray, 79′), Campbell (Bolasie, 57′)
Goal: Murray (90+3′)
Arsenal: Ospina, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Welbeck (Gibbs, 77′), Ozil (Rosicky, 76′), Sanchez (Gabriel, 89′), Giroud.
Goals: Cazorla (8′), Giroud (45+1)