Arsenal have started their Premier League campaign with two consecutive wins, but the latest one against Crystal Palace was far from convincing. The Gunners had to dig deep and grind out a 2-1 victory at Selhurst Park, showing that they can win ugly when needed.
Aubameyang and Saka shine for Arsenal
Arsenal’s star duo of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka were the difference makers in the game, as they scored the goals that secured the three points for the visitors. Aubameyang opened the scoring in the 16th minute, finishing off a slick move that involved Saka and Emile Smith Rowe. The Gabonese striker has now scored in both of his Premier League appearances this season, after netting 22 times in the previous campaign.
Saka doubled Arsenal’s lead in the 40th minute, with a composed finish from a tight angle after being played through by Martin Odegaard. The 19-year-old winger was a constant threat for Palace’s defence, with his pace, dribbling and creativity. He also made a crucial clearance off the line in the second half, denying Christian Benteke an equaliser.
Palace fight back but fall short
Crystal Palace did not give up easily, and they gave Arsenal a scare in the second half. The hosts pulled one back in the 62nd minute, when Conor Gallagher scored from close range after a scramble in the box. The Chelsea loanee was impressive in his debut for Palace, showing energy and drive in midfield.
Palace pushed for an equaliser, and had several chances to level the score. Benteke headed over from a corner, Wilfried Zaha fired wide from a good position, and James McArthur forced a save from Bernd Leno. However, Arsenal held on to their slender lead, thanks to some resolute defending and some luck.
Arsenal know winning ugly is key in Premier League title chase
Arsenal may not have been at their best against Palace, but they showed that they can win ugly when required. This is a quality that is essential for any team that wants to challenge for the Premier League title, as not every game will be a walkover. Arsenal have learned this lesson the hard way in the past, when they have dropped points against lower-ranked teams due to complacency or lack of concentration.
This season, Arsenal seem to have a different mentality, as they have shown resilience and grit in their first two games. They also beat Brentford 1-0 on the opening day, with another hard-fought performance. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta praised his team’s character after the win over Palace, saying that they “showed a lot of personality” and “never gave up”.
Arsenal will need to maintain this level of intensity and focus throughout the season, if they want to end their long wait for the Premier League trophy. The Gunners have not won the title since 2004, and have finished outside the top four for five consecutive seasons. However, with a talented squad, a promising manager and a winning mentality, Arsenal may finally be ready to mount a serious challenge this term.