Arsenal marked Arsene Wenger’s record-equalling match as a Premier League manager by winning 3-2 at Crystal Palace.
At a time when there remain doubts about his abilities despite his remarkable longevity – in overseeing his 810th Premier League fixture he equalled the record of Sir Alex Ferguson – his team displayed so many of the traits he inspires.
They often outplayed their hosts, securing victory when a finish from Shkodran Mustafi and two goals from Alexis Sanchez ensured they remain sixth and continue their push for the top four, but were also frequently stretched.
Sixteenth-placed Palace, who had been undefeated in eight, levelled at 1-1 early in the second half through Andros Townsend before James Tomkins’ late consolation.
Tweet of the match
Star man – Alexis Sanchez
The lively Chile forward turned the game back in Arsenal’s favour following a wobble at the beginning of the second half which saw them concede an equaliser. Sanchez, who came close to assisting a superb team goal for Mesut Ozil in the first half, caused the Palace backline a constant headache and confidently converted his two goals.
Moment of the match
Sanchez’s second goal was a joy to watch. England midfielder Jack Wilshere collected the ball in a central position and then produced a perfectly-weighted lofted through ball, allowing Sanchez to expertly control on his thigh and then calmly tuck the ball past the advancing Julian Speroni and into the bottom left corner to effectively end Palace’s hopes of a positive result.
View from the bench
It was a meeting between the Premier League’s two oldest managers and 68-year-old Wenger was made to sweat for a deserved victory which inflicted a first defeat in nine on 70-year-old Roy Hodgson’s resurgent Palace. The Gunners boss saw his side control proceedings at Selhurst Park and they should have won by a bigger margin. Hodgson will be understandably disappointed that his team started slowly and then failed to build on their equaliser.
Sanchez has now had a hand in 13 goals in his last 15 Premier League London derbies, scoring 10 and providing three assists.
Palace: Julian Speroni 6 (out of 10), Martin Kelly 5, James Tomkins 6, Scott Dann 6, Jeffrey Schlupp 6, Luka Milivojevic 6, Yohan Cabaye 5, Ruben Loftus-Cheek 6, Andros Townsend 6, Wilfried Zaha 7, Christian Benteke 5. Subs: James McArthur (on for Cabaye, 53) 5, Bakary Sako (on for Loftus-Cheek, 70) 6, Timothy Fosu-Mensah (on for Martin Kelly, 80) 5.Arsenal: Petr Cech 6, Hector Bellerin 6, Calum Chambers 5, Laurent Koscielny 6, Shkodran Mustafi 7, Sead Kolasinac 6, Jack Wilshere 7, Granit Xhaka 6, Mesut Ozil 7 Alexis Sanchez 8, Alexandre Lacazette 6. Subs: Francis Coquelin (on for Lacazette, 75) 5, Ainsley Maitland-Niles (on for Xhaka, 87) 5.
Who’s up next?
Crystal Palace v Manchester City (Premier League, December 31)
West Brom v Arsenal (Premier League, December 31)