Happy new year! 3 points, a clean sheet, great performance and goal of the season on the first day of 2017 – not a bad way to start.

Palace were lucky to have conceded only 2 goals because it was all about Arsenal during most of the match, and it was great to see all players tried hard and looked good without anyone really jumping out.

It was a proper team performance.

Petr Čech – 7

Čech could have easily had some tea during the first half because Palace barely even crossed the halfway line, but that changed in 2nd half. He was tested quite a few times during our usual “what is football” 5 minutes and he did very well. Second clean sheet in a row, let’s continue that streak!

Nacho Monreal – 8

Sunday felt like Nacho from last season and it was great to see. He wasn’t tested much defensively so had plenty of freedom to join in attacks and he did well. His crosses were on point and he even had a chance or two himself. His best performance this season? Maybe.

Gabriel – 7

Like the rest of defence, Gabriel was tested only in second half and he did well. His passing and clearances were almost perfect and both him and Koscielny kept Benteke quiet for most of the game. He looks really comfortable at the moment which lets us give Mustafi more time to heal.

Laurent Koscielny – 7

Again, not tested a lot but handled Palace’s attacks in second half pretty well. He scared me for a second when he let that one cross go pass him and Čech had to make a save but that’s just me trying to find something wrong. Looks like him and Gabriel have started to click, just in time for Gabriel to be benched again.

Hector Bellerin – 7.5

It’s been a while since Bellerin became a regular and I’m still fascinated with his speed! Some great runs from him in attack, without much work to do defensively although he did well when it was needed. He worked well with Lucas too.

Mohamed Elneny – 7.5

Wenger decided to rest Coquelin and it was a great decision. Elneny performs whenever he gets a chance. He’s not an “exciting” player but he does the job really well and I really enjoyed him. He also had some shots although nothing spectacular. A very good match before he heads off to AFCON with Egypt.

Granit Xhaka – 8

Absolutely bossed the midfield with most passes and doing really well to replace the Santi-sized hole in our team. He was on top of his game again, organising it all between defence and attack, and his corners have been great too. It’s a shame that his free kick late in 2nd half didn’t go in, he deserved an assist at least. No card either, for those obsessed with his “bad discipline”.

Alexis Sanchez – 8

Alexis looked so frustrated that he only managed to get an assist and no goal. He tried so hard, as always, having 7 shots on goal with no luck. Nevertheless, he was one of the best players on the pitch from start to finish. BUT, I still wish he’d pass sooner and more often!

Alex Iwobi – 8.5 MOTM

Mesut who? Just kidding, but Alex did an amazing job filling in for our German in the number 10 position. You could see he enjoyed it. His passes were fluid and he created lots of chances with Alexis and Lucas. The cherry on top was his goal. Such an exciting young player!

Lucas Perez – 7.5

A rare start for Lucas, and he once again showed why that’s a mistake. He should definitely get more game time. Once again a solid performance on the wing, worked well with Hector and Iwobi, and was unlucky not to score. He started the move for our first goal in our half. I kinda wish he got the full 90 but maybe next time. Great player to have in squad.

Olivier Giroud – 8

Goal of the season, of the year, call it whatever you like! A moment of magic from our handsome Frenchman up front who has quite an impressive conversion rate this season. He should have scored more and missed some sitters, that’s why my rating isn’t higher, although he gets a 100 for that goal! You know you want to see it again.

 


Subs

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6.5

Ox definitely brought on more speed and freshness but oh man, he can be so frustrating. He had a few great runs and then forgets what to do with the ball. Nevertheless, good to have him to come on.

Aaron Ramsey – 7

Great to see Ramsey back healthy! He didn’t get much time but managed to have a shot on goal in those 20 minutes.

Francis Coquelin – 6.5

He came on to slow things down and pass the ball around, and he did that well. I didn’t miss him though.

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