Arsenal v Crystal Palace - the story of the match
A sumptuous strike from Olivier Giroud helped Arsenal start the new year with victory over Crystal Palace and move up to third in the Premier League.
The Gunners leapt back ahead of Manchester City and Tottenham courtesy of Giroud's wonderful first-half 'scorpion kick' volley, with Alex Iwobi's second-half header sealing a comfortable 2-0 win over Sam Allardyce's struggling Eagles.
Arsenal face a trip to Bournemouth on Tuesday night, but they began 2017 with the three points they needed to return to the top four, having been temporarily displaced after Tottenham's earlier win at Watford.
TWEET OF THE MATCH:
"Wow just the THE goal from Giroud! #goaloftheseason" - David Seaman (@thedavidseaman) was impressed by Giroud's sensational opener.
Alexis Sanchez. Admiration for Sanchez's work-rate is nothing new, but the Chilean was consistently as effective in the final third as he was in the first. The Chilean, 28, provided Arsenal's most frequent attacking threat, the cross for Giroud's goal, and often dictated their tempo. In the absences of Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla, that counted for much.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
So soon after Henrikh Mkhitaryan's own contender for goal of the season, Giroud produced a superior finish, equally as athletic and stylish, and also with the back of his heel, that unlike Mkhitaryan's was unquestionably onside. If a better goal is scored in the 2016/17 Premier League, it may be one of the division's finest ever. It also gave Arsenal a deserved lead.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
In the season in which competition for the Premier League's top four is perhaps the most intense it has ever been, Arsene Wenger's Arsenal secured three vital points that kept them in the top three at the half-way point of 2016/17. There is so little margin for error that the absences of so many significant players suggested Arsenal could yet struggle against Palace, but they instead excelled to rediscover the momentum that will be crucial hereafter. Sam Allardyce's impact at Palace has so far been minimal. He has one point from two games, and while defeat to one of Europe's strongest teams should not necessarily be cause for criticism, the fact they looked so short of motivation is.
Petr Cech: 8
Hector Bellerin: 7
Laurent Koscielny: 7
Gabriel Paulista: 6
Nacho Monreal: 8
Granit Xhaka: 7
Mohamed Elneny: 8
Alexis Sanchez: 8
Alex Iwobi: 7
Lucas Perez: 7
Olivier Giroud: 8
Francis Coquelin (for Elneny, 72): 6
Aaron Ramsey (for Perez, 72): 6
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (for Iwobi, 77): 6
Wayne Hennessey: 8
Martin Kelly: 6
Scott Dann: 6
James Tomkins: 5
Joel Ward: 6
Mathieu Flamini: 6
Yohan Cabaye: 6
Andros Townsend: 7
Jason Puncheon: 6
Wilfried Zaha: 6
Christian Benteke: 6
Jordon Mutch (for Cabaye, 65): 5
Chung-Yong Lee (for Townsend, 71): 6
Fraizer Campbell (for Benteke, 77): 5
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Bournemouth v Arsenal (Premier League, January 3)
Crystal Palace v Swansea (Premier League, January 3)