The ‘Match of the Day’ Saturday 20th January 2018

The ‘Match of the Day’ Saturday 20th January 2018

Arsenal 4- Monreal ‘6, Iwobi ’10, Koscielny ’13, Lacazette ‘22

Crystal Palace 1- Milivojevic ‘77

The Gunners continue their inconsistencies as they have gone from a relatively embarrassing defeat away at Bournemouth, to an impressive domination over the Eagles, in which all their goals were scored within 22 minutes (they were dominant for this period at least).

If this is what Arsenal can play like without Alexis Sanchez, the fans should be happy, but this will not be the case, because losing a player of his quality and skill should be devastating in the long run, but perhaps the key to victory yesterday was the relief of not having someone in the dressing room who hasn’t wanted to be there for at least a year, and may have occasionally caused a rotten atmosphere. It will be felt by many that Armenia's star player Henrikh Mkhitaryan is not of the same calibre as Sanchez, but any player who has represented Shakhtar Donetsk, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United, must be good. His opportunity to perform well at United have been limited, but was impressive in the Europa League run, scoring 6 goals in 11 appearances, plus his scorpion kick goal against Sunderland, days after, coincidentally, Olivier Giroud did the same for Arsenal, against Palace. Mkhitaryan may also help to bring in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, his former attacking partner at Dortmund.

Unfortunately for Crystal Palace, they caught Arsenal on a more positive day, and conceded goals that Roy Hodgson says that they’ve ‘been quite strong' at avoiding goals like Monreal's opener and Arsenal's third by Koscielny, which both involved ill-disciplined marking and positioning by Palace players. Hopefully these are just freak errors, as all opponents, apart from Arsenal, since the 12th of September, when Hodgson was appointed, have only managed a maximum of two goals in a game against the likes of Scott Dann, James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho at centre-back. It is very tight, but Palace should survive for another season, as their now solid defence is complimented by the midfield stalwarts Milivojevic, Cabaye and MacArthur, playing behind the ever-energetic and talented Wilfried Zaha, and up-and-coming England star Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who should be seeking to turn his loan from Chelsea permanent. Although, if the Conte leaving gossip is true, he may have a slight chance of actually playing for a side who signed him up at 8 years old, making 22 appearances in 3 seasons only.

The unlikely MOTM for Arsenal was clearly left-back Nacho Montreal, with the Spaniard scoring the first with a free header from close range, before setting up Iwobi and Koscielny with hopeful crosses placed into the box. Normally, a player that scores 1 and then assists 2 in 33 minutes has been substituted on, think back to Ole Gunnar Solksjear in 1999.

Petr Cech has again missed out on reaching 200 Premier League clean sheets, having been 6 games without one since the 199th against Newcastle on 16th December, a 1-0 win.

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