Damien Delaney's own goal allowed Arsenal to belatedly kickstart their Premier League season with a 2-1 away victory in the London derby against Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Damien Delaney’s own goal allowed Arsenal to belatedly kickstart their Premier League season with a 2-1 away victory in the London derby against Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Palace had recovered from an early mauling by a fired-up Arsenal and had started the second half brightly only for Irishman Delaney to turn Alexis Sanchez’s downward header into his own net after 55 minutes.
Arsenal, in need of a quick response after being beaten 2-0 at home by West Ham United on the opening weekend of the season, dominated the early exchanges and deservedly took the lead with Olivier Giroud’s 16th-minute volley.
The hosts equalised against the run of play 12 minutes later when Joel Ward drilled home a low shot from outside the area.
Palace struck the woodwork through new signing Conor Wickham shortly after the break but once Arsenal went back in front they assumed control and limited Palace to a late flurry.
Later on Sunday champions Chelsea, who like Arsenal were disappointing on the opening weekend when held 2-2 at home by Swansea City, face last season’s runner-up Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Two consecutive capital defeats for Arsenal would have dealt a huge blow to their pre-season optimism but, despite not playing with any real fluency they survived a real test of their resolve at a noisy Selhurst Park.
“I’m very pleased with the three points. If we had gone two games and zero points it would be absolutely difficult and we knew this would be a tricky one,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told the BBC.
“Last week we had a bit of a stroll and thought we would win the game. Today we played real Premier League football from the first minute to the last.”
The Gunners certainly began as though they meant business.
Sanchez, in the starting line-up after being a substitute last week, should have put the visitors ahead but hesitated long enough for Ward to clear Mesut Ozil’s cross.
The dangerous Ozil again found space on the left and crossed for Giroud to hook home a volley despite connecting when the ball was virtually behind him.
Palace finally sprung forward in the 28th minute to score a clinical equaliser when James McArthur touched the ball back to Ward to lash home.
Another Ozil assist saw Aaron Ramsey nearly restore Arsenal’s lead but the visitors were lucky just before the interval when midfielder Francis Coquelin, already on a yellow card, sent Wilfried Zaha tumbling but was not punished.
By the time Coquelin was substituted in the second half, for his own good, Arsenal were back in control, although Ward had a late chance to equalise but headed straight at Petr Cech.