In the opening match of the English Premier League (EPL), Arsenal was able to squeak by Crystal Palace 2-1. Crystal Palace opened the scoring from the corner spot, but the Gunners were able to overcome the early deficit with goals from Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey at the end of each half. There is a ton of optimism going into this EPL season and getting this first win was crucial for Arsene Wenger’s men.
The great part of the start of every English Premier League season is the optimism every single team has for the upcoming season. One team overflowing with optimism coming into this season is Arsenal who have spent money on high-profile players, Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy, in the hopes of winning their first English title since 2003. Winning in their first match against Crystal Palace, whose manager Tony Pulis just resigned in the week leading up, was crucial for the North London side.
A win is exactly what Arsenal got against Crystal Palace with a good, but not great, opening performance. Palace opened the scoring in the 35th minute with a nice Brede Hangeland-headed goal from a corner. The Norweigan, who spent most of his career up until this season with Fulham, was able to find space in the box and finish into the far netting with a nice lofted header. Just before the break, the Gunners were able to equalize with a Koscielny header coming from a Sanchez free kick. The defender was able to find a yard of space behind the Palace back line and finished with his head even though he was very awkwardly positioned to finish the cross.
The second half did not create much in the way of chances for either side until stoppage time. Just before the end of regulation in the 89th minute, Palace forward, Jason Puncheon, was sent off for his second yellow card. The sending off might have been just the advantage Arsenal needed, as they were able to get the go-ahead goal only minutes later. The winner came from Ramsey after Debuchy’s shot right in front of net was saved by Palace keeper, Julian Speroni, and fell right to the feet of the Welshman who had an easy finish to seal the victory.
It was a truly valiant effort for a team like Crystal Palace, who just saw their very talented manager Tony Pulis resign, to come into the Emirates and challenge Arsenal the way they were able to. A lot of credit has to be given to stand-in manager, Keith Millen, who only had two days to prepare for this tough test in the wake of Pulis leaving because of disagreements with club executives.
Although not convincing throughout the entire match, the Gunners’ talent was able to win out in the end. The North London side looked much more dangerous after the replacement of Yaya Sanogo with Olivier Giroud. The replacement striker was able to play a part in the winning goal when he headed the ball to Debuchy whose deflected shot led to the Ramsey goal.
With their first win of the Premier League season under their belt, Arsenal will look to improve in their next match against Besiktas in a Champions League qualifier. Manager, Arsene Wenger, will be hoping some of his players who went deep into the World Cup, like Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker, will be fit by that match to add even more quality to his side. The Gunners have high expectations for this season and beating Crystal Palace 2-1 in the Premier League opener, along with their 3-0 thrashing of Manchester City a week earlier in the Community Shield, is just what fans and the club alike were hoping for.
Commentary By Max Petkevicius