Arsenal started off 2017 on the right foot with a 2-0 home win over Crystal Palace, keeping the club in 3rd place of the Premier League and nine points behind first-place Chelsea.
It was a comfortable win for the hosts, with Olivier Giroud starting his year off with a goal that will most certainly go down as one of the best in club history, and Alex Iwobi adding a scrappy second goal to seal the three points on New Years’ Day.
There were a few good chances for the visiting side, but the likes of Gabriel, Laurent Koscielny, Mohamed Elneny kept things rather clear in front of Petr Cech’s goal for the majority of the 90 minutes.
By starting the year off with what will most likely be considered the best goal of 2017, Arsenal can start fresh and focus on the upcoming fixtures in the competitions they will feature in rather than regretting past fixtures that ended in dropped points.
Well, here are the three stars of the match after the decisive performance from the Gunners.
Third Star: Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez was his usual aggressive self on Sunday, chasing after the ball at all times and being right in the thick of the Arsenal attack when his team had the ball. He created many chances, including assisting Giroud’s wonder goal and always posed a major threat to the shaky Crystal Palace defence. Once his partner in crime, Mesut Özil, returns from illness and gets back to his best, the two will be dangerous together.
Second Star: Alex Iwobi
Like Alexis, Alex Iwobi was always involved when Arsenal were going forward, terrorising the Palace defence in the process. His composure on the ball was valuable in the absence of star playmaker Özil, and the team won easily as a result of Iwobi’s ability to take care of the ball in possession.
First Star: Olivier Giroud
After being left out of favour at the club for the majority of the season thus far, Olivier Giroud has made the most of his chances, and he did just that with an unreal scorpion kick in the 17th minute, coming after a skillful flick to Alexis Sanchez to start the move towards goal. He looked much more active and energetic than he usually does, which is encouraging to the many Arsenal fans who have seen the French target man act sluggishly on the pitch in the past. Though he missed a few good chances, he was the man who separated the two teams early in the match, and Giroud and his men never looked back after.
This showing tells the club’s supporters that 2017 may be quite different than the traditional years of settling for 3rd or 4th place. Although it was not a perfect match by any stretch, it was certainly decisive enough to let the fans relax for a little bit, even though the memories of the matches against Manchester City and Everton would have lingered in the back of the audience’s minds. Arsene Wenger seemed to misuse Lucas Perez, who looked totally out of place on the right wing. Had the Spaniard played at the no. 10 role and Iwobi been on the right, there may have been room for another goal or two. But anyway, it was a good win to start the year off on and it gave fans a goal to watch on loop for years, so Gooners should not complain with this result.