PREMIER LEAGUE TITLE contenders Arsenal host fellow Londoners Crystal Palace this afternoon.
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Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace
15.42 – Good afternoon and welcome along on a busy day of sport. With current leaders Manchester City not playing until tomorrow (against Chelsea), Arsenal can go back to the top with a win against Crystal Palace.
Here are the teams:
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Podolski, Giroud. Subs: Rosicky, Fabianski, Bendtner, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Gnabry, Zelalem.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Parr, Bolasie, Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Puncheon, Chamakh, Jerome. Subs: Hennessey, Mariappa, McCarthy, Gayle, Wilbraham, Guedioura, Bannan.
15.44 – In the day’s other Premier League game, Liverpool could only draw with West Brom after Kolo Toure’s mistake led to the Baggies equalising. Read a report and watch the goals here.
It’s a team of players with a lot of experience and great quality,” Arsene Wenger tells Sky Sports.
With Aaron Ramsey injured and new signing Kim Kallstrom also sidelined, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will play midfielder “where his future lies”, according to the Gunners boss.
15.53 – The last time these teams met, Mikel Arteta’s penalty and a goal from Olivier Giroud was enough to hand the Gunners a 2-0 win.
YouTube credit: Pasie15 Sports
Since then, Tony Pulis has replaced Ian Holloway as Palace boss and six wins since his arrival mean they are out of the relegation zone… but only just.
16.01 – Here we go then. Palace, wearing their away strip of all black, kick off against the Gunners — who are in their traditional colours.
16.09 – Arsenal bossing possession in the opening five minutes as expected. After a string of passes, Mesut Ozil dinks a ball over the top for Nacho Monreal but his shot is blocked by Julian Speroni.
16.11 – What Marouane Chamakh would give to score against his former club. That’s a pretty unique hair style he’s sporting today.
16.12 – Podolski is fouled 30 yards out from goal and it’s Santi Cazorla who lines up to take it. The Spaniard gets this strike up and over the wall but it fails to come back down in time.
16.14 – Two of Palace’s new signing Joe Ledley and Tom Ince.
16.17 – Chamakh looks to be in on goal but the Moroccan takes a heavy touch and Wojciech Szczesny does enough.
16.31 – We’re coming up to the half-hour mark and Palace’s organised defence remains resilient. During a rare attack, Yannick Bolasie comes in off the left flank and attempts to pick out a team-mate with a cross to the back post but it’s well overhit.
16.35 – Ozil curls a free-kick from distance into the danger area after Damien Delaney concedes a foul and Laurent Koscielny gets the slightest of flicks before Speroni bats the goalward effort away.
16.38 – Arsenal full-back Bacary Sagna has limped off after receiving treatment but he should be fit to continue.
16.43 – Chamakh is yellow-carded for tripping Ozil and this time it’s Mertesacker who wins the header from a similar position to Koscielny’s. Speroni collects easily, however.
16.47 – Half-time: Arsenal 0-0 Crystal Palace
16.49 – Tony Pulis will be delighted with his team’s discipline in the opening 45 minutes as they have frustrated the Gunners for much of the half despite only having 25% possession.
Credit: Adam Davy/PA Wire/Press Association Images
17.02 – The Glaziers? Seemingly, it was Palace’s original nickname. That’s a new one for me…
17.02 – The players are returning to the pitch so we’re about to restart here. No changes on either side.
17.05 – GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Crystal Palace (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain)
There’s the opener. Cazorla cuts inside and finds the run of Oxlade-Chamberlain with a delicious pass. The 20-year-old takes one touch and lofts it over the dive of Speroni. A fine goal.
17.10 – Wow, that was close. Palace break down the left and Bolasie nods a cross to the back post where Cameron Jerome is loitering. He heads on target but it’s far too close to Szczesny and the Polish stopper makes a vital block.
17.12 – The game is beginning to open up. Cazorla plays Podolski, who steps over the ball before receiving a pass from Arteta. The German international has a pop from a narrow angle but can only find the side netting.
17.13 – Here’s the only goal of the game:
YouTube credit: BPL Soton
17.14 – Palace are taking off Jerome with Scottish midfielder Barry Bannan taking his place.
17.27 – Ireland’s Damien Delaney picks up a yellow card for a heavy challenge on Cazorla. The Corkman has been impressive for the Eagles today.
17.29 – Tomas Rosicky is on in place of Lukas Podolski.
17.30 – GOAL! Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain)
He’s got a second. Substitute Rosicky immediately involved by playing the Ox, who flicks to Giroud. He gets a return pass and advances goalward before finding the bottom corner.
That should be enough for the Gunners.
17.42 – Arsene Wenger is making a double substitution with Kieran Gibbs and Niklas Bendtner being introduced for Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud.
17.43 – Check out the Ox’s second goal:
YouTube credit: BPL Soton
17.48 – We’ve reached 90 minutes so, barring a miracle, the Gunners will take all three points from this one.
17.51 – Full-time: Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace
17.54 – Two goals for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sees Arsenal back on top — at least until Man City and Chelsea play tomorrow.
17.59 – “It was really nice to get a start. It’s my first since I got an injury at the start of the season. I also enjoyed playing in midfield,” man-of-the-match Oxlade-Chamberlain tells Sky Sports.
“It’s always amazing to score a goal (his first since December 2012) and it’s nice to help get the win.”
That’s my lot, thanks for joining me!