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Gunners shoot down the Eagles

Written By: Robert Halter

Arsenal looked to extend a two points lead at the top of the Premier League table beginning of March, as their closest rivals Manchester City and Chelsea were embroiled in battle the following day and with home advantage the Gunners aimed to repeat the 2-0 success at Crystal Palace back in October but the Eagles were now under new management with the appointment of Tony Pulis as their boss. On seven minutes, the ball was played over the top by Mesut Ozil but from the advancing Nacho Monreal, the Eagles keeper Julian Speroni held his ground with a strong defensive block. Four minutes later, it was too far out for Santi Cazorla to make the difference from a free kick, after Kagisho Dikgacio had pulled down Lukas Podolski. It took fourteen minutes for Palace to threaten as Cameron Jerome paved the way for Marouane Chamakh to race through against his former Gunners but Wojciech Szczesny stifled the attack. On thirty four minutes, Speroni produced another vital save by sprawling to his right and clawing behind Laurent Koscielny’s goal bound header from a whipped in free kick from Ozil, after Damien Delaney had been the guilty culprit after dragging Olivier Giroud to the floor. Two minutes later, Bacary Sagna felt the full force of Speroni’s brave body block, after Arsenal captain, Mikel Arteta had carved an opening. But Palace were back on the ascendancy in the thirty ninth minute as Joel Ward’s right wing cross had to be turned behind by Monreal, as Jerome threatened at the right post with a flick on. It took just two minutes into the second half for the Gunners to break the deadlock as Cazorla chipped the ball into the penalty box and with a crafted finish, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain lobbed Speroni to launch the ball into the heart of the net. But the Eagles broke on fifty one minutes, as Jason Puncheon’s left wing cross deflected off Sagna and as Yannick Bolasie nodded the ball onto Jerome, his close range header was manfully stopped by Szczesny’s body. Although Arsenal pressed again three minutes later with intricate play between Cazorla and Arteta before Podolski riffled a shot into the outside of the left side netting. Palace made their first switch by taking off Jerome for Barry Bannan. and the Gunners later substituted Podolski for Tomas Rosicky before it was double delight for Oxlade-Chamberlain in the seventy third minute as he latched onto a pass from Giroud before firing a low drive into the right corner past Speroni’s despairing dive to put Arsenal in the driving seat and in effect the game was out of reach for Palace. Into the final ten minutes of normal time, Bolasie let fly with a speculative strike which sailed over the bar and as a last resort the Eagles took off Chamakh for Dwight Gayle but the Gunners made a double swoop by replacing Ozil for Kieran Gibbs and Giroud for Nicklas Bendtner. In stoppage time from a Bannan corner, Per Mertesacker failed to clear his lines but as Jonathan Parr’s strike flew into the night time sky it was the Gunners that saw daylight in their race for the title.