Arsenal grab late winner, but need to improve in the final third

Arsenal managed to grab all three points thanks to a stoppage time goal from Aaron Ramsey.

With 10 men on the pitch for Crystal Palace late in the game, Arsenal took full advantage of the man down and found spaces inside the box.


Laurent Koscienly equalizes for Arsenal right before half time from a great delivery by Alexis Sanchez.

The game started off brightly for Arsenal, but they could not muster any chances good enough to find the back of the net. Crystal Palace was given one decent opportunity during a counter attack and forced Arsenal to concede a corner. That’s when Brede Hangeland took advantage of the miscommunication by the Arsenal defense and headed home the opener from the resulting set-piece in the 35th minute.

Right before half-time, however, Arsenal managed to receive a free-kick and new signing, Alexis Sanchez, delivered a beauty of a ball toward the box and found Laurent Koscielny’s darting run for the equalizer in the 46th minute.

Arsenal looked like the better team in the first half, but their lack of chances created in the final third hurt them immensely. Olivier Giroud’s presence was badly missed and Arsenal could not afford to lose points at home against a team they should win against.

The second half was much of the same with Arsenal obtaining most of the possession and Crystal Palace playing very defensively, relying on their counter attack, not allowing Arsenal to find space in the middle of the pitch.

And although Sanchez was deployed out on the wings and frequently switched positions from right to left, there was no one else to be found on the other side of Sanchez which really hurt Arsenal’s dynamic play.

The problem with Arsenal is that they have plenty of players in the middle of the pitch with Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla who all prefer to cut inside rather than stay out wide to stretch the field which makes defending rather easier for the Crystal Palace men.

But a late, silly, and an unnecessary challenge by Jason Puncheon led to a red card in the 89th minute and gave glimmer of hope for Arsenal. Palace only needed to withstand the Arsenal attack for few more minutes so there was no need to be aggressive to take a point at the Emirates.

With a man down, Palace was exposed on the right hand side and Arsenal exposed that space.

Arsenal managed to get the ball wide after a failed corner attempt and crossed it in toward the box and after a fix flicks from the Arsenal players and a failed attempt from Mathieu Debuchy, Ramsey fired home the winner.

Ramsey was at the right place at the right time, but also the absence of Puncheon allowed Ramsey to find space in the far post area and no other Palace player was near him.

It was not a very convincing win by Arsenal, but they managed to get the job done by getting all three points at the end of the day.

Arsenal still had many flaws in the game such as the questionable marking when they conceded the first goal. It seemed as though Sanchez initially marked Hangeland, but left him to the zonal markers, but the defenders did not see Hangeland making the run. Arsene Wenger will have to address that issue, but also he’ll have to address lack of width from his side.

Because Arsenal has plenty of playmaking players who like to cut back in toward the box, they’ll need players who can make runs on the outside to create space in the middle; that way, the playmakers will have plenty of space and time for them.

Sanchez played his role admirably, but did not get the help needed from the central forward, Yaya Sanogo. Sanogo was given the surprise start after impressing during the preseason, but it showed how Sanogo is not ready to be a starter and Arsenal badly missed Giroud’s hold up play ability.

Arsene Wenger will need to utilize his wide players out wide instead of inside in order to create more chances and cause problems for the opposing defenders. They’ll need to step up in their next game against Everton if they are to challenge for the title.

A good win, but there’s plenty of work to be done by Arsenal.