Giroud volley sets up Arsenal win at Palace
CRYSTAL PALACE: 1 ARSENAL: 2
Olivier Giroud's stunning volley helped Arsenal battle to a 2-1 Premier League win at Crystal Palace, as they belatedly got their season off and running.
The Gunners produced the required response from their opening day defeat at home by West Ham with a determined display at Selhurst Park, where German playmaker Mesut Ozil delivered a stand-out performance.
The German's floated cross was smashed home by Giroud on 16 minutes, and although defender Joel Ward drilled in a 25-yard equaliser before the break, a deflected header from Alexis Sanchez in off Damien Delaney proved enough for a hard-earned victory.
Manager Arsene Wenger had opted to start Sanchez, the Chile forward only just back from an extended summer break following the Copa America and his side took the lead on 16 minutes with a superb goal from Giroud.
Ozil dispossessed Ward on the left, looked up and floated a ball across to the penalty area. Giroud arched backwards before the 6ft 3in France striker dispatched a left-foot volley of the highest order into the bottom corner.
Palace, though, were level on 28 minutes with another fine goal. Patient build-up saw the ball worked across to the left of the Arsenal box, where Yannick Bolasie chested the ball to McArthur who laid it off to Ward, some 25 yards out. The defender then drilled a low shot into the far corner, just out of Petr Cech's reach.
Arsenal struck next on 55 minutes, as Hector Bellerin's deep cross from the Palace right was headed back down goalwards by a huge leap from Sanchez, and the ball cannoned into the net off Eagles captain Delaney.
Aaron Ramsey could have made the closing stages more comfortable, but he drilled over after being teed up by another superb chipped pass from Ozil.
In stoppage time, Oxlade-Chamberlain was denied by a smart save from McCarthy after a breakaway down the right.
"Our fluency was good in the first half and our mental response was good at 1-1," said a relieved Wenger.
"It was a bit scary to look at the chances we missed - you thought we would be punished after that but we dug in and hung on in the last 10 minutes, and that too is important in the season.
"Alex Sanchez has only had two weeks of training but still he had the mental resources to score us a vital goal today. We know it's not a 100%-fit Sanchez but a 100%-motivated Sanchez, and that at times can be enough."
Palace boss Alan Pardew rued his side's missed opportunities as they slipped to their first defeat of the season.
"The game changed on two incidents," he said. "We hit the post at 1-1 and you have to argue they are lucky to have 11 players. Everyone knew in the stadium Francis Coquelin should have gone.
"The game was very even, they play a different style. They were good, much better than against West Ham. Sharper in the mind and we still feel aggrieved we haven't come out with anything.
"Arsenal were a hurt animal but the early period was bad for us, we made a lot of mistakes."