Premier League: Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 0
By Football News
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's double helped Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday.
The England international broke the deadlock shortly after half-time on his return to the side at the Emirates Stadium, before he wrapped the game up on 72 minutes to finish a superb, flowing move.
Arsene Wenger's men were made to work hard against a typically resolute Palace, but victory sees them return to the summit, though Manchester City can reclaim top spot if they beat Chelsea on Monday.
After a first half lacking in clear-cut chances, Oxlade-Chamberlain brought the game to life by guiding an effort past Julian Speroni following a superb ball by Santi Cazorla two minutes after the break.
The 20-year-old confirmed the win with a driven strike with 17 minutes left, as Arsenal made it 10 games without defeat in all competitions.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was recalled in place of the suspended Mathieu Flamini in midfield, but there was no Kim Kallstrom for Arsenal amid reports that the new loan signing has suffered a back injury that could keep him out for several weeks.
Marouane Chamakh started against his former club for Palace.
Unsurprisingly, Arsenal controlled possession in the opening exchanges and their early dominance resulted in the first opening on seven minutes when Nacho Monreal received Mesut Ozil's superb switch of play, and he forced goalkeeper Speroni into action from a tight angle.
Tony Pulis' side settled into the game, however, with Chamakh looking particularly threatening, but a lack of composure in the final third proved costly.
The visitors did need Speroni to be on his guard shortly after the half-hour mark when Ozil's crossed free-kick deceived everybody in the penalty area and forced a smart save.
That proved to be the closest Arsenal went in the first half, with a resolute Palace defence frustrating the home side.
However, it took Arsenal just two minutes to break Palace's resistance in the second half.
Cazorla picked out Oxlade-Chamberlain with a wonderfully clipped pass and the England international controlled well before lofting his effort over Speroni.
Shortly afterwards, Palace missed a gilt-edged opportunity to level the scores. Dwight Gayle's cross deflected to Yannick Bolasie, who in turn nodded the ball into the path of the unmarked Cameron Jerome, but his header was kept out by a fine stop from Wojciech Szczesny.
That miss proved costly for the visitors after 73 minutes. Oxlade-Chamberlain played a swift one-two with Olivier Giroud before driving into the box and drilling his shot past Speroni.
Arsenal rarely looked troubled in the closing stages, with Palace's fight long since extinguished, as the visitors fell to a 15th league defeat of the season to remain just outside the relegation zone.