Crystal Palace manager Sam Allardyce must have known it was a big ask to have expected his players to come out of today’s game against Arsenal with anything other than their pride still intact.
Plenty of chances were created before Olivier Giroud netted a Goal of the Season contender in the 17th minute. And while the scoreline suggested this one was relatively close – the truth is that Arsene Wenger’s men never looked like losing.
Ladbrokes News picks out three positives Gooners can take from today’s game…
Another solid week at the back
Petr Cech’s arrival in 2015 brought with it a handful of clean sheets for the Gunners in the Premier League last campaign. But that’s not something we’ve seen often enough from the north London outfit this time around.
In fact, prior to their last two games, they’d conceded in 12 successive matches in all competitions – keeping just four top-flight clean sheets since the season began.
But a 1-0 victory over West Brom, followed by today’s 2-0 win suggests that defensive work on the training ground has been a priority of Wenger’s in the last week or so.
Couple that with the threat they pose offensively and we could see them enjoy a fine second-half to the season.
There’s genuine quality in depth
So often has it been the case in recent years that a couple of absences for the Gunners has resulted in the whole team suffering.
Not now though. Today the Gunners were without Shkodran Mustafi, Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs.
Gabriel has impressed in Mustafi’s absence, Mohamed Elneny has kept things ticking over in the middle, Lucas Perez was a constant thorn in the Eagles’ back-line’s side with his darting runs, and Alex Iwobi carried his fine form of 2016 into the new year.
And while their bench was probably the weakest it’s been all season, it still boasted the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Throw into the mx the imminent return of Danny Welbeck, and there’s a case to be made that this is the strongest all-round squad in the division.
There’s still within touching distance
There’s a lot to do if Arsenal are to win the Premier League this year. But victory today kept them very much within touching distance of their challengers.
Having started the match in fifth place, the Gunners ended it in third, and nine points off league leaders Chelsea.
While Antonio Conte’s men are enjoying a 13-game winning streak, there’s still some huge fixtures coming up for them in the next few weeks.
That includes back-to-back matches against Liverpool and Arsenal in February. Lose those and they blow the title race wide open again.
The next few fixtures for the Gunners would certainly be considered winnable, too.
Up next is a trip to Bournemouth, before they travel to Swansea then host Burnley and Watford.
Chelsea, on the other hand, meet Tottenham Hotspur, reigning Premier League champions Leicester City and Liverpool in that time.
While Wenger’s side lost two crucial matches against Everton and Man City back in December, they’re certainly not out of the race for top spot come May.
What do fans think about today’s performance? Who stood out to you the most, and are Arsenal still in with a chance of winning the league?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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