Alexis Sanchez stole the show with a pair of excellent quickfire goals as Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 3-2 at Selhurst Park in Arsene Wenger’s record-equalling 810th Premier League match in charge of the club.
For much of the game, Arsenal produced some of the fine football we have grown accustomed to since Wenger’s arrival in 1996, and Sanchez produced two moments of real quality in less than four second-half minutes to clinch all three points as the Gunners boss moved level with Alex Ferguson in terms of Premier League fixtures managed.
Although Palace went into the match without a defeat in their previous eight top-flight outings, Arsenal were well in charge for the majority of the first half and were fully deserving of the opening goal through Shkodran Mustafi in the 25th minute.
The visitors failed to make the most of their chances while they were on top, though, and Palace punished them early in the second period – Andros Townsend with the finish after excellent play from Wilfried Zaha.
But that seemed to be the scare Arsenal needed to jolt them back into life, as Sanchez – who will enter the final six months of his contract on January 1 – took over to leave Palace wondering what had hit them.
The Eagles were showed desire to get back in the match and pulled one back in the 89th minute through James Tomkins, but they were unable to stop Arsenal cruising to victory and going level on 37 points with fifth-placed rivals Tottenham.
Arsenal looked focused and in control during the early exchanges and produced some neat football which led to chances.
Jack Wilshere, Sanchez and Granit Xhaka had efforts blocked by Palace’s robust defending, but their resistance was ended just after the midway point in the opening period.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
CRYSTAL PALACE 4-4-2: Speroni 6; Kelly 6 (Fosu-Mensah 80), Tomkins 6, Dann 6, Schlupp 6; Townsend 6, Cabaye 5.5 (McArthur 53, 6), Milivojevic 6, Loftus-Cheek 5.5 (Sako 70, 5); Zaha 7.5, Benteke 6.
GOALS: Townsend 49
SUBS NOT USED: Hennessey, Van Aanholt, Puncheon, Riedwald.
MANAGER: Roy Hodgson 6.
ARSENAL 3-4-2-1: Cech 6; Chambers 6, Mustafi 6.5, Koscielny 6; Bellerin 6, Wilshere 7.5, Xhaka 6.5 (Maitland-Niles), Kolasinac 6; Ozil 7, Sanchez 8; Lacazette 6.5 (Coquelin 75).
GOALS: Mustafi 25, Sanchez 62, 66,
SUBS NOT USED: Ospina, Walcott, Holding, Iwobi, Welbeck.
MANAGER: Arsene Wenger 6
REF: Michael Oliver 6.