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Crystal Palace 2-3 Arsenal

By Gary RoseBBC Sport
Crystal Palace 2-3 Arsenal: Arsene Wenger praises Alexis Sanchez after double

Manager Arsene Wenger says he cannot guarantee that striker Alexis Sanchez will remain at Arsenal long term, after the forward scored twice in the victory at Crystal Palace on Thursday.

The Chile striker can leave for free this summer when his contract expires and he has been linked with a move to league leaders Manchester City, who failed in their bid to sign him on deadline day.

When asked about the 29-year-old's future, the Frenchman said: "Nobody knows what will happen. It's difficult to speculate.

"We are focused on short term, that means the next game with the players committed and ready to fight. It's not a guarantee of how long you stay somewhere.

"They are questioned, always, when people don't have long contracts. The best way to show they are committed is to give that kind of performance."

His comments come only a month after he said that both Sanchez and German midfielder Mesut Ozil, whose current deal also expires in the summer, want to stay at the Emirates Stadium.

On Thursday, Sanchez struck twice in four minutes after Andros Townsend had cancelled out Shkodran Mustafi's first-half opener.

The forward squeezed a clinical strike in at the near post to make it 2-1 before bringing Jack Wilshere's superb ball from his own half under control and flicking into the net.

James Tomkins headed in late on but Sanchez's double was enough to secure a win that keeps sixth-placed Arsenal level on points with Tottenham, who are fifth, and one point behind fourth-placed Liverpool.

Most games managed in the Premier League
ManagerGamesWinsDrawsLossesGoals forGoals againstWin %
Sir Alex Ferguson8105281681141,62770365.2
Arsene Wenger8104681971451,52478057.7
Harry Redknapp64123616723881884636.8
David Moyes50819813817266462739
Sam Allardyce49416813419258667034

The best and worst of Arsenal on show

After three draws and just one win from their four previous Premier League outings, this was arguably an important game for the Gunners in their bid to remain in the hunt for a top-four finish, especially after wins for rivals Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea in midweek.

They started the day with six points fewer than they had at the same stage last season - and Wenger's side ultimately finished outside the Champions League places - so a positive result and performance was needed to help ease any Arsenal fans' concerns their campaign was in danger of fizzling out.

For large periods, the performance was certainly there. The visitors often produced some of their best attacking play of the season, particularly in the first half when Palace could not cope with short, intricate passing that time and again opened up the defence.

But their inability to finish off the many opportunities they created meant their opponents always had a chance to get back into the game. That proved the case early in the second half when Zaha's cross caught Arsenal's defence asleep and Townsend struck.

Arsenal's heatmap for the first half of Thursday's game shows just how much they dominated, yet they only managed a single goal before the break
Arsenal's heatmap for the first half of Thursday's game shows just how much they dominated, yet they only managed a single goal before the break

A five-minute spell of Arsenal disarray followed and the Gunners could easily have found themselves falling behind, but Sanchez - so often Arsenal's saviour - settled the nerves with two moments of quality.

But even with a two-goal cushion Arsenal were never at ease, and Wenger's concern about his side's defensive frailties was highlighted by his decision to replace striker Lacazette with Francis Coquelin late on. That was still not enough to prevent Palace from reducing the deficit to one, setting up a tense finale.

"It was an excellent game, end to end, but you just cannot be convinced by Arsenal," former Gunners and Crystal Palace defender Matt Upson, commentating on the game for BBC Radio 5 live, said.

"At times, some of their passing and movement was mesmerising, just brilliant - but at the other end you see their vulnerabilities and frailties and why they are sitting sixth in the league."

Zaha shines again for resurgent Palace

It has been a strange old season for Crystal Palace.

They set an English football record by losing their first seven league games of the season without scoring a goal, but went into the Arsenal fixture unbeaten in eight matches - their longest such run in the top flight since 1990 and one which had moved them out of the relegation zone and into 16th.

The appointment of Roy Hodgson as manager has played a key role in that turnaround, but so too have the performances of Zaha.

The Ivory Coast forward has been in exceptional form since returning from injury in October and it was his trickery and intuition that allowed Palace to get back on level terms, jinking his way past Calum Chambers before crossing low behind a static defence for Townsend to slam home.

Only Jason Puncheon (32) and Chris Armstrong (31) have been involved in more Premier League goals for the Eagles than Zaha (30), underlining his importance to the team.

The ex-Manchester United player's form has seen him linked with a move away in January and his departure would undoubtedly be a blow for Palace.

However, they showed in this game - and in recent displays - that they have enough quality elsewhere in their squad to be able continue their progress away from danger.

Crystal Palace 2-3 Arsenal: We gave it our best shot - Roy Hodgson

"At 1-1 I thought we were playing well and we were on the front foot, but the second goal was so difficult - to go down 2-1 was a difficult task," Hodgson said.

"You have to give the players credit. At 3-1 a lot of teams would have capitulated, but we certainly didn't do that.

"Our second goal was scant reward for the chances we had in the second half - but we were beaten by the better team on the day."

Man of the match - Jack Wilshere

Jack Wilshere
Provided arguably the moment of the match with a sublime assist for Sanchez's second - hitting an inch-perfect ball over the top from his own half to his team-mate on the edge of the Crystal Palace area. The midfielder, who said after the game that he is "sure" a new Arsenal deal will be done, looked back to his best.

Gunners rule in London - the stats

  • Arsenal have won more Premier League London derbies (120) than any other side.
  • Roy Hodgson has won just one of his past 12 Premier League matches against the Gunners (D3 L8).
  • Sanchez has had a hand in 13 goals in his past 15 Premier League London derbies (10 goals, three assists).
  • Wilshere has now started four consecutive league games for Arsenal for the first time since March 2014.
  • Crystal Palace have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 10 league home games - their longest such run since May 2015 (15).
  • Zaha has provided three assists in his past two Premier League games against Arsenal.
  • Townsend both scored and assisted in a league game for just the third time - and for the first since April 2016 for Newcastle against Swansea.

What's next?

It is another tough assignment for Palace as they host Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday (12:00 GMT kick-off). Arsenal, meanwhile, end 2017 with a trip to West Brom, also on Sunday (16:30).


Crystal Palace

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Speroni
  • 34KellySubstituted forFosu-Mensahat 80'minutes
  • 5Tomkins
  • 6Dann
  • 15Schlupp
  • 10Townsend
  • 7CabayeSubstituted forMcArthurat 53'minutes
  • 4Milivojevic
  • 8Loftus-CheekSubstituted forSakoat 70'minutes
  • 17Benteke
  • 11ZahaBooked at 45mins


  • 3van Aanholt
  • 13Hennessey
  • 18McArthur
  • 24Fosu-Mensah
  • 26Sako
  • 42Puncheon
  • 44Riedewald


Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 33Cech
  • 21ChambersBooked at 29mins
  • 20Mustafi
  • 6Koscielny
  • 24Bellerín
  • 29XhakaSubstituted forMaitland-Nilesat 87'minutes
  • 10Wilshere
  • 31Kolasinac
  • 11Özil
  • 7Sánchez
  • 9LacazetteSubstituted forCoquelinat 75'minutes


  • 13Ospina
  • 14Walcott
  • 16Holding
  • 17Iwobi
  • 23Welbeck
  • 30Maitland-Niles
  • 34Coquelin
Michael Oliver

Match Stats

Home TeamCrystal PalaceAway TeamArsenal
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Crystal Palace 2, Arsenal 3.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 2, Arsenal 3.

  3. Post update

    Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Shkodran Mustafi.

  4. Post update

    Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  5. Post update

    Foul by James Tomkins (Crystal Palace).

  6. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

  7. Goal!

    Goal! Crystal Palace 2, Arsenal 3. James Tomkins (Crystal Palace) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Andros Townsend with a cross following a corner.

  8. Post update

    Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Laurent Koscielny.

  9. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Bakary Sako (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jeffrey Schlupp.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Arsenal. Ainsley Maitland-Niles replaces Granit Xhaka.

  11. Post update

    Attempt missed. Bakary Sako (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Luka Milivojevic.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal).

  13. Post update

    Bakary Sako (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  14. Post update

    Attempt missed. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) with an attempt from very close range misses to the right. Assisted by Bakary Sako with a cross.

  15. Post update

    Delay over. They are ready to continue.

  16. Post update

    Delay in match Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) because of an injury.

  17. Post update

    Attempt saved. Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Shkodran Mustafi.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Crystal Palace. Timothy Fosu-Mensah replaces Martin Kelly.

  19. Post update

    Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Calum Chambers.

  20. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is blocked. Assisted by Luka Milivojevic.


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Scores, Results & Fixtures

Thursday 28th December 2017

As It Stood

1Man City20191061124958
2Man Utd20134343162743
16Crystal Palace2046101832-1418
17West Ham2046102238-1618
19West Brom202991427-1315
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