ARSENAL 4-CRYSTAL PALACE 1: GUNNERS RUN RIOT IN FIRST HALF MASTERCLASS
All the Talk about Arsenal recently has more or less revolved around Alexis Sanchez and his proposed move to Manchester United. It was almost the only news on Arsenal out there. In the minds of the other players in the team i’m sure they would have been wondering if in the eyes of the world the departing Chilean was the only player at Arsenal. So what did they do? The decided to lay down a 1st half performance to show the rest of the world that there is life after Alexis Sanchez.
Four goals in a devastating first 22 minutes allowed the Gunners to cruise to their first victory of 2018.
And it was all achieved without the help of top scorer Sanchez, who withdrew from the squad to negotiate the final details of his imminent move to Manchester United.
Palace, beaten only once in their previous 12 Premier League games, were never at the races as they failed to put up an even token resistance.
Nacho Monreal started the landslide, heading in unchallenged from Grant Xhaka’s fifth minute corner.
And before Palace had a chance to recover from that early blow, they fell further behind when Alex Iwobi stabbed home from Monreal’s tenth-minute pull-back.
Arsenal welcomed back Laurent Koscielny who scored the third goal.
The Spanish full-back was running riot down the left and teed up Arsenal’s third goal in the 14th minute when he got on the end of another Xhaka corner to tee up skipper Laurent Koscielny to score from close range.
But the best was still to come from rampant Arsenal as Jack Wilshere’s through ball was met with a sublime back-heel from Mesut Ozil for Alexandre Lacazette to beat keeper Wayne Hennessey.
It was the striker’s first goal in ten appearances and with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang expected to arrive at the Emirates any day soon, he could not time his return to form better.
Even the departure of the injured Monreal to what was probably the first and only standing ovation of his career could not help dismal Palace.
The visitors looked capable of conceding every time the ball came near to their penalty area as manager Roy Hodgson watched in utter bewilderment.
They finally threatened Arsenal’s goal two minutes before half-time, when Wilfried Zaha’s deflected shot was met with an outstanding reaction save from Peter Cech.
The Arsenal keeper, looking for the 200th Premier League clean sheet of his career, was back in action 11 minutes into the second-half to save from Christian Benteke.
But that personal landmark was denied him when Luka Milivojevic volleyed home in the 78th minute.
Arsenal were already in cruise control by then, though, and there was no way Palace were coming back from there.