By Walter Broeckx
First of all my best wishes to all Untolders and to The Arsenal for the New Year!
As I think some players are a bit sick as Wenger said in his press conference a few days ago we had a bit of some unfamiliar names and some people not involved.
Arsenal made a few changes in the starting line up with Elneny starting and Coquelin finding a place on the bench. It was the last chance to use Elneny before he would be off to the ANC for the rest of the month.
No Özil to be seen and Iwobi took his place behind the striker. Also Lucas in the starting line up in this match.
On the beach we had Mustafi back and also Oxlade-Chamberlain was back after his minor injury at City. Also a few unfamiliar names. Matiland-Niles one of the surprising names.
Arsenal team at the start: Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Elneny, Xhaka, Iwobi, Alexis, Lucas, Giroud.
On the beach: Ospina, Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Coquelin, Ramsey, Reine-Adelaide, Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Arsenal winning an early corner but Gabriel just couldn’t get his foot against the ball that went in front of the goal past everyone. Alexis almost puts Lucas one on one with the keeper but he rushes out the penalty area and can clear. Xhaka with a ball to Monreal but both Giroud and Lucas can’t put the ball in the goal and then the shot of Elneny is cleared for a corner. Arsenal keep on pressing and a shot from Alexis just goes wide. 0-0 after 15 minutes.
A low shot from Iwobi after a back pass from Lucas but the keeper can stop it. Crystal Palace get a free kick and hoof it forward. Lucas intercepts the attack from CP slides it to Bellerin who plays it to Giroud. A lay off from Giroud to Iwobi who sends Alexis away on the left flank. Alexis with a cross to Giroud who bakcheels it over the line from the crossbar. GOAL!!!!! 1-0 to The Arsenal after 18 minutes. And what a goal that was!
Monreal almost with the ball away after a bad control from Townsend but the keeper first on the loose ball. Another Arsenal attack comes to an end with a low shot from Elneny two meters wide. Iwobi sends Lucas away but he misses his control and the keeper can pick up the ball. Still 1-0 after 30 minutes.
Alexis with a cross to Giroud who chests it down but Monreal was judged offside. Alexis with an attempt to curl it but the shot goes wide. After 36 minutes Cech has to make his first easy stop. Alexis with a shot but straight at the keeper in the last minute of the first half. Arsenal with a last attack after some errors at the back Alexis had a last chance but he shot against the legs of the keeper. That should have gone in. 1-0 after 45 minutes and the score really should have been bigger.
Crystal Palace break after the restart but Benteke heads just wide. At the other end Lucas shoots but the ball is deflected for a corner. From the resulting corner Arsenal has 2 or 3 shots but always a defender in the way and then Elneny shoots wide. Arsenal keeps on trying to score a second goal but a cross from Lucas goes behind. Monreal being put out wide and his cross can’t find an Arsenal player but the ball goes in the air and Iwobi heads it over the defenders. GOAL!!! 2-0 to The Arsenal after 56 minutes.
Crystal Palace get a corner as the assistant judged the ball went over the line. Cech has to make two stops in a row after dangerous situations and concedes another corner. At the end Arsenal can clear finally. A bit of pressure from Palace as a result of the corner. 2-0 after 60 minutes.
Crystal Palace going more forward now and trying to produce something and Cech being given some work now. Flamini puts the ball out for a corner but the ref gives a goalkick. Flamini is no longer an Arsenal player, ref. A bit later some confusion in the Palace penalty area but the ball ends up in the arms of the keeper. A shot from Xhaka is diverted for a corner. That looked dangerous.
After 71 minutes Ramsey and Coquelin came on for Elneny and Lucas. Arsenal in control of the match and still 2-0 after 75 minutes.
Iwobi went off and Oxlade-Chamberlain came on. Alexis with a cross to Giroud but he just came short and the keeper could get the ball in the end. The Ox with a good run and a low cross but Palace can clear. Monreal going in the book for a foul when he stopped Zaha from getting on a counter. Arsenal now not really in search for a third goal but more looking to control the match. Ramsey with a low shot but it went wide. Tomkins got a yellow card for bringing Ramsey down. Xhaka with a free kick but the ball was headed away by a defender. The Ox with a low shot but again a good save from the keeper.
A strong performance from the whole team who worked hard. The score could have been much higher.