ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger hailed his side’s determination in overcoming Barclays Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace despite losing Mikel Arteta to what the Frenchman felt was an unjust red card.
Scorers: Arsenal: Arteta 47pen; Giroud 87
Arteta put Arsenal ahead with a 47th-minute penalty but the Spaniard was then dismissed 18 minutes later following a tangle with Marouane Chamakh some 35 yards out from goal. Referee Chris Foy showed the red card after deeming Arteta had prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Managerless Palace rallied after that but were denied by two brilliant saves from Wojciech Szczesny, and Arsenal sealed the 2-0 win when Olivier Giroud headed home a late second.
Wenger said: “We showed a lot of resilience and patience and good organisation against a team who were really up for it. It was a very convincing win because when we were down to ten men we mastered the situation quite well.”
Regarding the red card, Wenger added: “I honestly believe it was the wrong decision. Why? Because it has to be a clear goalscoring opportunity. It was very far from goal, he was not the last man, and even the foul was, to me, accidental. So I think he got that wrong.”
The win ensured Arsenal, beaten in the Champions League by Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, will finish the weekend on top of the table, but Wenger is refusing to look too far ahead in the title race.
“It’s a bit early but it’s nice to be there,” he said. “It’s good as well for the character of the team to respond after the disappointment of Tuesday night.”
Arsenal had a penalty claim denied just before half-time when Damien Delaney bundled over Serge Gnabry right on the line. Both referee Foy and his assistant signalled for only a free-kick, which came to nothing.
There was no debating a key decision at the start of the second half when Adlene Guedioura cut down Gnabry, and this time all the officials were in no doubt.
Arteta crashed the penalty past Julian Speroni, into the left corner, to give the leaders some breathing space.
It was almost 2-0 straight away when a clearance from Delaney bounced off Gnabry and just an inch past the post.
Arsenal were reduced to ten men after 65 minutes. A long ball up field was taken on the chest by Chamakh, who tussled with Arteta, shoulder to shoulder just inside the Arsenal half.
The pair went down in a heap, but that was enough to convince Foy that the Gunners captain had denied his former team-mate a clear goalscoring opportunity and went for the red card.
Szczesny made two brilliant saves to kept Arsenal ahead when he first touched a thunderous 20-yard effort from Ward against the goal frame and then, from the resulting corner, produced a brilliant one-handed stop to turn over a dipping strike from Jedinak.
Spanish Defender Nacho Monreal, deployed on the left of midfield, ghosted into the penalty area with some fine close-control, before his shot was blocked.
Arsenal finally secured three points when Ramsey broke down the left and delayed a chipped pass through for Giroud, who arrived on cue to nod the ball past Speroni.