Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace: Mesut Ozil stars as Gunners cruise to win
By James Walker-Roberts
Last Updated: 22/01/18 9:34am
Arsenal shrugged off the absence of Alexis Sanchez as they romped to a 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday.
With Sanchez not in the squad as talks continue over a move to Manchester United, the Gunners blew Palace away with four goals in a dazzling opening 22 minutes.
Nacho Monreal, Alex Iwobi and Laurent Koscielny all finished from close range before Alexandre Lacazette fired in after a slick passing move.
Arsenal: Cech (6), Bellerin (6), Koscielny (7), Mustafi (7), Monreal (7), Wilshere (8), Elneny (7), Xhaka (8), Ozil (8), Iwobi (7), Lacazette (7)
Subs: Maitland-Niles (6), Kolasinac (5), Nelson (5)
Crystal Palace: Hennessey (5), Van Aanholt (5), Tomkins (4), Kelly (4), Fosu-Mensah (4), Milivojevic (5), Cabaye (4), McArthur (4), Zaha (5), Sako (4), Benteke (4)
Subs: Riedewald (5)
Man of the match: Mesut Ozil
Palace improved in the second half but could only pull back a consolation goal in the 78th minute through Luka Milivojevic.
The win is Arsenal's first in 2018 and provides a timely boost after defeat at Bournemouth last weekend and then a week dominated by transfer speculation.
With several key players back, the Gunners made a rampant start as Monreal headed in from a corner in the sixth minute before crossing for Iwobi to make it 2-0 shortly afterwards.
Monreal was also involved in the third goal as he knocked a corner across goal for Koscielny to tap in.
Palace looked all at sea defensively and they were cut apart in the 22nd minute by a superb goal that saw the excellent Ozil combine with Wilshere and then backheel for Lacazette to rifle into the bottom corner.
The only negative in the first half for the Gunners was Monreal going off with injury, having just returned from almost a month out.
Ozil, Monreal and Koscielny all returned to the starting XI for Arsenal along with Elneny. Cabaye replaced Riedewald for Palace.
Petr Cech did make a late save in the 44th minute from a deflected shot from Wilfried Zaha, and Palace improved after the break as Arsenal's level dropped.
Christian Benteke wasted Palace's best chance when he shot at Cech, and it took until the 78th minute for the visitors to finally respond when Milivojevic volleyed in from a corner.
Arsenal wasted chances to score themselves as Iwobi and Lacazette were both denied by Wayne Hennessey, but their early flurry ensured the second half was more than comfortable.
- Arsenal went 4-0 up in the opening 22 minutes in this game - the earliest a side has led by that many in a Premier League game since Liverpool against the Gunners themselves in February 2014 (20 minutes).
- Alexandre Lacazette's strike was the 500th by French players for Arsenal in the Premier League (excluding own goals) - 358 more than any other side in the competition.
- Nacho Monreal was involved in three of Arsenal's goals before being substituted (1 goal, 2 assists) - as many as in his previous 43 Premier League games combined (2 goals, 1 assist).
- Roy Hodgson is now winless in all 11 of his Premier League away London derbies as manager (D3 L8).
- Crystal Palace have now lost just two of their last 13 Premier League games (W5 D6), with both defeats coming against Arsenal.
Man of the match - Mesut Ozil
With Sanchez looking set to leave, keeping Ozil seems imperative for Arsenal based on this performance.
Returning to the side after nearly three weeks out, he pulled the strings for the Gunners and produced a number of clever flicks and one-touch passes. He also set up Lacazette's goal with a sublime backheel, and even though his influence faded in the second half, it was a brilliant display.
Arsenal host Chelsea in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports. They then travel to Swansea in the Premier League on Tuesday, January 30. Crystal Palace's next game is a trip to West Ham on January 30.