Arsenal hold on to beat Palace

first_img The Gunners went ahead through an early penalty from Santi Cazorla following a trip by Pape Souare on Danny Welbeck, which the Palace bench protested had been just outside the area. Referee Mark Clattenburg and his assistant were central to another big call on the stroke of half-time when Welbeck was waved onside and Olivier Giroud netted a second from the rebound after the England forward’s shot had been blocked. Coquelin eventually went into the notebook for a late trip on Campbell as the match continued to be played with plenty of positive aggression. Arsenal doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time. Alexis Sanchez played a perfectly-weighted pass into the left side of the penalty area for Welbeck, who was adjudged onside as he ran across the Palace backline. The England forward sent in a low, angled drive, which Speroni palmed out and Giroud was alert to get to the loose ball ahead of three defenders to stab home his 50th Arsenal goal. Palace looked to make a positive start to the second half, and pushed Arsenal back as Wilfried Zaha caused problems down the right channel, forcing a string of corners before a looping header from Mesut Ozil dropped onto the top of the crossbar. The German, who has returned from a knee injury a much stronger player, broke away on 57 minutes and fed Sanchez on the overlap down the left. Arsenal’s leading scorer burst into the box and then stabbed the ball just wide of the far post, when both Welbeck and Giroud were screaming for a pass. Palace were forced into a change when Campbell limped off with what looked like a hamstring problem and was replaced by Yannick Bolasie. There was a stoppage when David Ospina went down a few minutes after the goalkeeper had come racing out of his penalty area to jump over Per Mertesacker and head a long ball clear. After some treatment for what appeared to be a back problem, play continued. Palace continued to push Arsenal back, as Dwight Gayle sent a bullet header just over before Jason Puncheon’s 20-yard free-kick curled just wide. With 15 minutes left, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, whose side host Monaco in the Champions League next week, looked to shore up the side as defender Kieran Gibbs came on for Welbeck and Ozil was replaced by Tomas Rosicky. Palace boss Alan Pardew sent on Murray for Gayle and Shola Ameobi made his debut to replace Joe Ledley. Murray saw a late close-range header saved on the line by Ospina, who was then beaten in another goalmouth scramble during five minutes of added time. Palace almost snatched a dramatic equaliser at the death as Ospina flapped at a left-wing cross, which Murray crashed against the base of the post with a flying header. Arsenal moved up to third in the Barclays Premier League with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Crystal Palace. Palace showed plenty of endeavour to try to get back into the match, and grabbed a stoppage-time consolation through substitute Glenn Murray, who then hit the post with a flying header as Arsenal held on to close out victory to climb back above Southampton, who play Liverpool on Sunday, and Manchester United, beaten at Swansea. The tone for what was a hard-fought contest was set early when Fraizer Campbell was caught on the chest by a high boot from Francis Coquelin, Arsenal’s new midfield enforcer. However, Clattenburg gave only a free-kick and no card – much to the disbelief of the Palace bench. The home management team could then not believe it moments later when Arsenal were awarded a penalty. Souare, making his Premier League debut after signing from Lille, came across to try to block Welbeck, but tripped the Arsenal forward as he darted away down the right. The initial contact looked right on the edge of the penalty area, and Clattenburg immediately pointed to the spot. Cazorla made no mistake from the spot as he sent Julian Speroni the wrong way for his seventh goal of the season. Palace looked to make an instant response, pushing Arsenal back with some direct balls into the danger area. Press Associationlast_img read more

Read More »

Dzeko: City’s swagger is back

first_imgManchester City striker Edin Dzeko felt the spirit of last season was returning as the champions thrashed Newcastle to reinvigorate their title defence. Dzeko was among the goalscorers as City ran out 5-0 victors at the Etihad Stadium – their biggest win of the campaign – to cut Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League to five points. City netted 102 goals in winning the competition last year but have been well below that exhilarating standard this term, and questions were asked of their durability during a recent poor run. The 28-year-old said: “I am happy with the goal. It finally came back to me after those two injuries when I didn’t play much, didn’t score so many. Hopefully I’m back too.” While City can now look forward to Tuesday’s visit of Barcelona in the Champions League in good heart, Newcastle need to pick themselves up after a demoralising afternoon. The Magpies were comprehensively outplayed and such was the paucity of their performance that it was described as “pathetic” by their record goalscorer Alan Shearer on television. Joe Hart did make one good save to deny Papiss Cisse, but the score was already 3-0 by then. Newcastle remain in mid-table, 10 points above the bottom three, but manager John Carver admitted there needed to be considerable improvement before next week’s home clash with struggling Aston Villa. Carver said: “We all know this, there are three divisions within the Premier League and we know where we are. “If you get something at a stadium like this, it is great. If not, it is not good but it is how you deal with it. “It wasn’t a good day at the office but when we get back to work on Monday we will do everything in our means to get three points against Aston Villa. That puts more pressure on us because we have to win these games in this division. “I don’t think the players gave up on the situation – I think they genuinely gave what they have – but it wasn’t good enough. “Sometimes you just have to say we were beaten by a better side with world-class players.” Manuel Pellegrini’s men went four games without a league win early in the new year, allowing Chelsea to stretch ahead, but a 4-1 win at Stoke, followed by Saturday’s success, has changed the mood. Dzeko said: “I think the first half was maybe one of the best this season. Recently maybe we didn’t play the best football, didn’t score so many goals, but in the last two games we scored nine and hopefully we are back to normality – like we played last season. We have to continue.” City needed just 24 seconds to take command of the game, as the highly impressive Dzeko seized on a mistake by Vurnon Anita to win a penalty. Sergio Aguero struck the from the spot – his 22nd goal of the season – and Samir Nasri and Dzeko joined him on the scoresheet inside the opening 21 minutes. A quickfire double from David Silva early in the second half put the seal on victory and City might have had three more but for three good saves from Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul. One of those stops denied Wilfried Bony, City’s £25million January signing, a debut goal after he appeared off the bench for the final 30 minutes. “The goalkeeper made a great save,” Bony said. “I was a little bit disappointed but when I saw the result I started to laugh. It would be great if I scored but I will take it next time.” Regardless of Bony’s failure to score, it arguably appeared he had already made an impact with his presence on the bench bringing the best out of Dzeko. The Bosnian, who was hampered by calf injuries after last scoring in September, was a handful throughout. As well as winning the penalty and scoring he set up Nasri’s goal and both created chances and had some himself. Press Associationlast_img read more

Read More »