Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace: Giroud stunner helps Arsenal claim first win of 2017 - as it happened.
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Onto the game, well it was largely unspectacular, made memorable by an exquisite piece of skill by Olivier Giroud. His scorpion kick gave Arsenal the lead, but they failed to build on it - despite being the dominant party. Given the amount, and quality of chances they had - Palace are slightly fortuitous to have only come away with a 2-0 defeat.

Next for the Gunners, it's Bournemouth away on Tuesday, and Palace host Swansea on the same day. That's a crucial clash at the bottom.

But, for now, I've been James Eagles - thank you for joining me. Have a good evening, we must do this again.

It was an easy way to start 2017 for Arsenal, who move back into third place, but they remain nine points behind runaway leaders Chelsea.

As for Palace, they stay in 17th, buoyed by Sunderland, Hull and Swansea all dropping points. But, there is much to be done by Big Sam.

FULL TIME: ARSENAL 2-0 CRYSTAL PALACE

90+3: CHANCE! Oxlade-Chamberlain is found by Sanchez, but his shot is weak and saved by Hennessey.

90: The resulting free-kick is whipped in by Xhaka and is nearly turned into the top corner by a Palace head. It goes over the bar and out for a corner, which is cleared.

90: Tomkins receives a yellow for a lunge on Ramsey.

88: CHANCE! Arsenal come close to making it three. Oxlade-Chamberlain finds Ramsey who shifts onto his right foot on the edge of the area, but curls his effort wide.

87: Lee's tantalising cross is claimed by Cech - who has done well to stay alert this evening.

84: But, Mutch's delivery is awful and goes out harmlessly for a goal kick.

83: The first booking of the match goes to Monreal for a cynical tug on Zaha's shirt.

77: SUBSTITUTION: Benteke (OUT), Campbell (ON)

Palace have no changes remaining.

77: SUBSTITUTION: Iwobi (OFF), Oxlade-Chamberlain (ON)

Arsenal have no changes remaining.

76: Sanchez' effort hits the wall.

75: Free-kick to Arsenal after Ward catches Bellerin 25 yards out.

72: SUBSTITUTION: Elneny, Lucas (OFF), Coquelin, Ramsey (ON)

Arsenal have one change remaining.

71: SUBSTITUTION: Townsend (OFF), Lee Chung-Yong (ON)

Palace have one change remaining.

71: Another shot by Xhaka. Another deflection. Another corner.

70: Corner for Arsenal, after Xhaka's 40 yard effort is deflected. Palace are still at sixes and sevens.

65: SUBSTITUTION: Cabaye (OFF), Mutch (ON)

Palace have two changes remaining.

65: Whilst Palace are looking better, Zaha's shot from a counter-attack almost leaves the stadium.

64: Townsend's cross from the right curls in dangerously, and Cech as to tip it round the post.

60: CHANCE! Palace trouble Arsenal from a corner. Cech saves from a Benteke header, but the ball is sent back in. Cech punches, but only as far as Cabaye, who expertly tries his luck on the volley - again, Cech is in the way.

From the following corner, Townsend fizzes a shot towards goal, but Cech shows a strong pair of fists.

It's courtesy of Alex Iwobi (I think). Not quite as good as the opener, and it's a real mess for Palace to concede. A low cross in by Monreal loops up off of Dann before being met by the head of Iwobi. Ward tries to clear it off the line, but only manages to hit the bar and then the net. May be an own goal.

56: GOAL FOR ARSENAL!

53: Perez floats a disappointing cross over everybody with his right foot.

48: CHANCE! Good from Arsenal. A superb run into the area, behind Kelly by Perez, is found by Sanchez, but the Spaniard's strike from a tight angle is deflected out for a corner.

47: CHANCE! Palace start brightly, but Benteke nods Zaha's cross wide.

KICK-OFF: The second half is underway.

A very Arsenal performance. Everything has been executed with finesse, except the easy stuff. It's ridiculous to think that five minutes before his audacious goal, Giroud spurned an open goal from four or so yards out.

But, Arsene Wenger's side do go in at half-time in the lead, but must pounce on a dreadful Palace display. A lot of the men in yellow look as if they enjoyed the London nightlife last night.

HALF-TIME: ARSENAL 1-0 CRYSTAL PALACE

45+1: CHANCE! Palace are all over the place. A ball into the box from Bellerin is barely cleared by Tomkins. After a bit of pinball, the ball drops to Sanchez, who gets it out of his feet, but Hennessey's foot denies Arsenal a much needed second.

45: Sanchez drives a shot into the arms of Hennessey, to cap off a fairly frustrating half for the Chilean.

40: An observation, with five minutes to go until the break. It's a fairly obvious one - Arsenal need a second. But, the final ball is lacking, the shots are wayward, and if they're not careful, Palace could sneak back into this.

37: A shot for Palace, that's meet with ironic cheers from the away end. But, Cabaye's tame effort is no trouble for Cech.

34: Sanchez tries to bend an effort into the far corner, but fluffs his lines.

28: Free-kick for Arsenal on halfway.

26: CHANCE! Arsenal come forward again, Elneny meets Iwobi's lay off with a thunderous strike that just misses Hennessey's near post.

23: Corner for Palace.

22: Palace nearly shoot themselves in the foot. Townsend did well to track the run of Monreal into the Palace area, but nearly gave the ball away straight afterwards.

It really is a thing of beauty from Olivier Giroud. Quite sensational after a wonderful counter attack, that was set in motion by a sublime flick by the Frenchman on the halfway line. He continued his run into the box to meet Sanchez' cross with an audacious, nigh on ridiculous scorpion kick that goes in off of the bar.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan's grip of "Best Premier League scorpion kick 2016/17" lasted only a week.

17: GOAL FOR ARSENAL!

16: CHANCE! Another carefully crafted move by Arsenal. Iwobi and Perez play a 1-2 in the box; the Nigerian's low drive is held at the second attempt by Hennessey.

15: Arsenal's momentum is stunted after Perez is pulled up for a slightly late challenge.

12: CHANCE! Good, patient play from Arsenal. It culminates in Sanchez skipping inside Kelly before rifling a vicious shot just wide of the post.

11: It's easily claimed by Hennessey with no one attacking Xhaka's delivery.

10: Another Arsenal corner.

9: Townsend catches Monreal on the ankle, deep free-kick for Arsenal.

6: CHANCE! Xhaka finds the overlapping Monreal. He plays in a first time cross that Giroud manages to miss altogether. Perez can't reach it at the back post, but Arsenal get a corner after Iwobi's shot is deflected over.

5: Sanchez tries to thread a ball from deep towards the diagonal run of Lucas, but Hennessey is alert and comes off of his line to clear.

2: The corner is dealt with, eventually.

2: Early chance for Arsenal. Iwobi collects a long punt by Cech before feeding Sanchez who got behind Martin Kelly, but the defender recovers at the cost of a corner.

KICK OFF: It's Palace who get the game underway, immediately looking towards Zaha's flank.

Here come the two sides, greeted by a generous helping of North London rain.

UPDATE: Arsene Wenger has revealed that Alex Iwobi will be in the 'Ozil role', with Sanchez starting out wide on the right.

UPDATE: Zeki Fryers has been injured in the warm-up, and has been replaced by Michael Phillips.

James Tomkins does start for the visitors, as does former Arsenal man Mathieu Flamini, who left on a free at season's end last term.

No Mesut Ozil for Arsenal in the Premier League for the first time since the 4-3 defeat to Liverpool on opening day; maybe in answer to his recent poor form, that's drawn criticism from the Arsenal fans. His exclusion means that Alexis Sanchez moves into the middle and Lucas Perez fills in on the left hand side.

Mustafi starts on the bench, not risked by Arsene Wenger.

Well the team news is in for both sides, and there are a few shocks involved, it's fair to say.

Pos Name Pos Name
GK Petr CECH GK Wayne HENNESSEY
RB Hector BELLERIN RB Martin KELLY
CB GABRIEL CB Scott DANN
CB Laurent KOSCIELNY CB James TOMKINS
LB Nacho MONREAL LB Joel WARD
CM Mohamed ELNENY CM Yohan CABAYE
CM Granit XHAKA CM Mathieu FLAMINI
RM Alex IWOBI RM Wilfried ZAHA
AM Alexis SANCHEZ AM Jason PUNCHEON
LM LUCAS LM Andros TOWNSEND
ST Olivier GIROUD ST Christian BENTEKE
       
SUB David OSPINA SUB Julian SPERONI
SUB Ainsley MAITLAND-NILES SUB Zeki FRYERS
SUB Shkodran MUSTAFI SUB Noor HUSIN
SUB Francis COQUELIN SUB Jordon MUTCH
SUB Jeff REINE-ADELAIDE SUB Bakary SAKO
SUB Aaron RAMSEY SUB Lee CHUNG-YONG
SUB Alex OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN SUB Fraizer CAMPBELL

Join me from 3:00pm as the teams are announced for live and uninterrupted coverage of Arsenal - Crystal Palace.

For Palace, the focal point is Benteke - how they can utilise his strengths. Fellow target man Salomon Rondon was isolated for West Brom on Boxing Day, as the rest of his side concentrated on being behind the ball - Allardyce will be keen for that not to happen - but not at the cost of defensive solidarity. Plus, the big Belgian has caused the Gunners troubles in the past, having scored 3 in 7 matches against the club since his arrival in English football in 2012.

Damien Delaney is suspended after picking up a booking in the draw against Watford, but James Tomkins could return - although it is unlikely. In other news, Loic Remy has resumed training after a spell on the sidelines with a calf strain.

Plenty of good news for Arsenal. With Shkodran Mustafi having returned to training earlier this week after suffering a hamstring injury in the win over Stoke, it means that there's a heavy chance of seeing the, so-far, unbeaten back four return for the first time since the draw against North London rivals Tottenham on 6 November.

In addition to that news, Danny Welbeck also made a welcome return to training after seven months out with a meniscus tear, sustained in the 2-2 draw against Manchester City last May.

However, both Theo Walcott and Palace target Kieran Gibbs miss out with calf and knee troubles respectively.

Predicted Arsenal line-up (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Xhaka; Sanchez, Ozil, Iwobi; Giroud.

Predicted Crystal Palace line-up (4-2-3-1): Hennessey; Kelly, Dann, Ward, Fryers; Cabaye, Flamini; Zaha, Puncheon, Townsend; C. Benteke.

Let's take a gander at the five previous meetings between the two clubs, ahead of today's derby - the 38th between the two sides.

Date Competition Home Away Score
17.4.2016 Barclays Premier League Arsenal Crystal Palace 1-1
16.8.2015 Barclays Premier League Crystal Palace Arsenal 1-2
21.2.2015 Barclays Premier League Crystal Palace Arsenal 1-2
16.8.2014 Barclays Premier League Arsenal Crystal Palace 2-1
2.2.2014 Barclays Premier League Arsenal Crystal Palace 2-0

And as for Palace, they are hovering over the relegation zone precariously, a byproduct of Pardew and Palace's dreadful 2016; one that saw them pick up the least points of anyone in the top 4 divisions of English football.

A lot rides on this encounter for both sides, with Arsenal either facing expulsion from the top four, or entry into the top three, in the wake of City's narrow loss to Liverpool in yesterday's evening kick-off.

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace are still adjusting to life under Sam Allardyce, after saying goodbye to Alan Pardew in the days before Christmas. Big Sam's first game in charge was a bittersweet occasion; the Eagles did earn a point against Watford, but surrendered a lead - Troy Deeney's 100th Watford goal cancelling out Yohan Cabaye's early strike . Additionally, Christian Benteke missed a crucial penalty in the first half.

In the Gunners' last match of 2016, Wenger just edged past his old sparring partner in Tony Pulis, as West Brom defended valiantly, with Ben Foster making a string of superb saves. But, Olivier Giroud's header two minutes from time was enough to claim all three points for the hosts.

Good afternoon and welcome to VAVEL's live coverage of Arsenal's first game of 2017, as the Gunners host Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium. I'm James Eagles. After the festive and New Year celebrations, can Arsene Wenger's men leap back into the top three, at Manchester City's expense?

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