Arsenal claimed their first win of 2018 after 20 minutes of madness in the first half saw Arsene Wenger’s side scored all four of their goals in a 4-1 win against Crystal Palace.
Nacho Monreal scored the first and assisted the next two goals as the Spanish defender, playing at left-back, contributed to putting Arsenal 3-0 up within 13 minutes after setting up Alex Iwobi and captain Laurent Koscielny.
Alexandre Lacazette joined in on the fun 22 minutes in when the French striker ended his duck of eight Premier League games without a goal after champagne football from the Gunners saw Mesut Ozil flick the ball to the former Lyon attacker, and burying it past Wayne Hennessey.
Palace pulled a goal back with 12 minutes to spare from Luka Milivojevic, but it wasn’t enough to stop Arsenal from earning a vital three points.
Arsenal gun down Palace
Arsenal got off to the perfect start, as six minutes in Monreal headed the Gunners ahead.
Iwobi tested Hennessey from distance, forcing the Palace keeper to tip the ball out from a corner. Granit Xhaka whipped in a precise set-piece that found an unmarked Monreal in the area, and the Spaniard had a free header, to give Arsenal the lead.
Things got better for the hosts, as Monreal tuned provider four minutes later, as the fullback assisted Iwobi to make it 2-0.
After a dominate spell of possession following the opening goal, Monreal was given space down the left wing to drift into, and pass the ball to Iwobi in the area. The Nigerian spun from his marker, and lashed a shot too strong for Hennessy, and the Arsenal academy graduate doubled the Gunners lead.
Two became three in a matter of moments, as captain on the day Koscielny bundled in a third goal on the 13th minute mark.
Another corner from Xhaka bounced around in the Palace area, and after the ball bounced off Monreal, Koscielny was able to tap the ball from three-yards out, to make it 3-0 to the Gunners just before the 15-minute mark.
Lacazette silences the critics
Lacazette had been criticised in recent weeks for his lack of goals, but the summer signing from Lyon managed to break his goalless streak 20 minutes in.
An amazing team build up from the Gunners resulted in Ozil perfectly flicking the ball into the path of Lacazette, and the striker smashed the ball way past the reach of Hennessey, to give Arsenal a 4-0 lead after just 20 minutes of play in the first half.
However, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Arsenal as Monreal, who had contributed to three of the four goals, was forced off just 34 minutes in with a suspected hamstring injury, meaning Ainsley Maitland-Niles was introduced early into the game.
Second half speed bump
The first half consisted of Arsenal fluid, attractive, and efficient football. The second half saw the hosts play a more unpolished brand of football, as their battered opponents tried to climb out of the embers, and back into this game,
Wilfried Zaha led the creative the spark for Palace, as he normally does, but the Ivorian international couldn’t do all the work by himself, and the winger was constantly shut down by Arsenal’s defence.
Arsenal’s lapse in concentration at the back, though, almost cost them a goal, as Shkodran Mustafi fluffed his lines with a cross, allowing Christian Benteke a free shot from close range, but Petr Cech made himself look big, and made a vital body save to deny Palace a way back into the game.
Palace pull one back
Cech was finally beaten 12 minutes from time, when a Palace corner found Milivojevic in the area, and after cushioning the ball down well, the Serbian midfielder connected with the ball perfectly on the half-volley, pulling a goal back for the south London visitors.
Despite signs of a late comeback, Arsenal were able to hold on to an important three points.