Olivier Giroud volley helps Arsenal to much-needed win

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Olivier Giroud's stunning first-half volley helped Arsenal battle to a 2-1 Premier League win at Crystal Palace.

The Gunners produced the required response from their opening day defeat at home to West Ham with a determined display at Selhurst Park, where German playmaker Mesut Ozil delivered a stand-out performance.

The German's floated cross was smashed home by Giroud on 16 minutes, and although defender Joel Ward drilled in a 25-yard equaliser before the break, a deflected header from Alexis Sanchez in off Damien Delaney proved enough for a hard-earned victory.


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Manager Arsene Wenger had opted to start Sanchez even despite the Chilean's recent return from an extended summer break following the Copa America.

It was Sanchez who should have put the Gunners ahead on seven minutes following a lightning break.

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Santi Cazorla fed Ozil down the left following a Palace corner, and he in turn released Sanchez into the Palace penalty area.

The Chile forward's first touch was heavy, pushing him wide, with Ward recovering to block his shot before James McArthur was back on the line to boot away the goal-bound follow-up.

Arsenal did take the lead on 16 minutes with a superb goal from Giroud.

Ozil dispossessed Ward on the left, looked up and drilled a ball across to the penalty spot, where Giroud waited.

The Frenchman arched backwards before dispatching a left-foot volley of the highest order into the bottom corner.

Arsenal remained on the offence, with Sanchez's low, angled drive saved at full stretch by Alex McCarthy before being hacked away in the six-yard box.

Palace, though, were level on 28 minutes with another fine goal.

Patient build-up saw the ball worked across to the right, where Yannick Bolasie chested the ball to McArthur who laid it off to Ward, some 25 yards out, with the defender drilling a low shot into the far corner, just out of Petr Cech's reach.

Arsenal looked reassert their dominance before half-time, with Aaron Ramsey's near-post flick forcing McCarthy into a smart save.

Palace came close to taking the lead at the start of the second half when Connor Wickham got ahead of Laurent Koscielny to turn Wilfried Zaha's right-wing cross against the near post.

It was Arsenal who eventually went 2-1 ahead on 55 minutes.

Hector Bellerin's deep cross from the Palace right was headed back down goalwards by a huge leap from Sanchez, and the ball cannoned into the net off Eagles captain Delaney.

The Palace fans were in uproar when Francis Coquelin, who had been booked in the first half, clattered into McArthur right in front of the referee, but Lee Mason decided against issuing a second yellow card.

Wenger was taking no further risks with the French midfielder, who was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on 64 minutes.

Aaron Ramsey could have made the closing stages more comfortable, but he drilled over after being teed up by another superb chipped pass from Ozil.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was denied by a smart save from McCarthy after a breakaway down the right in the final moments of the match, but the Gunners ultimately held out to secure their first win of the season.

Speaking in a post-match interview, Giroud admitted there were aspects that Arsenal could improve upon but insisted that collecting the first three-point haul of the season, after defeat to West Ham last week, was their main objective.

"Before the game we really needed the three points to bounce back after the performance at home when we lost against West Ham," he told Sky Sports 1.

"We really wanted to play our game even if we won this afternoon, we could have killed the game before but it was nice for the suspense."

Giroud accepts the Gunners were always likely to face criticism after their season-opening defeat but believes they proved their credentials as title challengers by bouncing back against Palace.

He said: "You always get criticised when you lose, especially at home. We said at the beginning of the championship that we want more, we want to win the league and join the title race.

"When you say that you have to face expectations, and it was a bad performance from us.

"Even if we lost last week, the most important thing in football is to bounce back the week after and keep your faith in your game and that's what we tried to do and succeeded in doing well today.

"We need to keep it up for next Monday against Liverpool. Big, big game."

As for his stunning goal, Giroud added: "It's always nice to score when you're a striker, especially a goal like that first touch. I felt really good physically in the game, it's nice for the future."

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