English Premier League
Result: Crystal Palace 2-3 Arsenal
Date: 28 December 2017
Venue: Selhurst Park
Alexis Sánchez stole the show at Selhurst Park as Arsenal moved back within a point of fourth place with a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace in Thursday night’s Premier League clash.
The game got off to an end-to-end start, although Arsenal dominated the early possession.
Neither goalkeeper had much to do until 24 minutes in, when Julian Speroni pushed Alexandre Lacazette’s effort from a tight angle away. The Argentine’s stop was ultimately in vain, as Shkodran Mustafi was there on the rebound and slotted the ball into the net.
Five minutes later, Speroni made an important save to deny Mesut Özil from close range after he was played in by Sánchez.
Arsenal were in cruise control towards the end of the first half and Palace will have been relieved to go into the break trailing by only a solitary goal.
The Gunners picked up where they left off afterwards. Sánchez found Héctor Bellerín with a cross from the left. Speroni would have had his heart in his mouth, but fortunately for him, Ruben Loftus-Cheek put the Spaniard off and denied him a clean connection, allowing the keeper to gather.
Three minutes later, Palace were level. Wilfried Zaha cut the ball back from near the byline on the left, finding Andros Townsend, whose low strike left Petr Cech with no chance.
All of a sudden, the complexion of the game had changed entirely. Palace began to pose problems for the Gunners’ defence as they pushed forward in search of the lead.
However, Arsenal weathered the storm and found their way back into the ascendancy. In the 62nd minute, Lacazette teed up Sánchez with a backpass inside the box and the Chilean blasted the ball through the legs of James Tomkins and inside the post off Speroni’s glove.
Sánchez struck again four minutes afterwards. Jack Wilshere played him in behind the defence with a Pirlo-esque aerial pass from just inside his own half and he took a touch before stroking the ball into the bottom corner.
Even then, Palace refused to give up. Tomkins rose above Laurent Koscielny to head home following a corner and hand Palace a lifeline in the 89th minute. However, that was ultimately the last goal of the game.
Roy Hodgson’s side missed a chance to extend the one-point gap between themselves and 18th-placed Bournemouth despite their best efforts. Meanwhile, Arsenal will head into their final game of a forgettable year against West Brom on a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions.