Arsenal remain top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win against managerless Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. They had to labour for the points, especially after Mikel Arteta's second-half dismissal, but Arsene Wenger and company will be very pleased at the way they battled their way to victory despite never approaching their top form.
Not much happened in the first half. Mathieu Flamini hobbled off very early on with what looked like a groin problem, and the Gunners had a pair of penalty appeals turned down. But it was actually Palace who would have been the happier of the sides heading into the break -- they'd managed to weather the worst of the visitors' early pressure and were actually looking at least vaguely threatening.
And then, disaster. Adlene Guedioura was undoubtedly trying to help his defenders out when he charged down Gnabry in the box, but he certainly did his team no favours with a ridiculous sliding tackle that saw the youngster scythed down and Arsenal awarded a stonewall penalty. Arteta beat Julien Speroni despite the goalkeeper guessing the right way, and it seemed that Palace would simply capitulate.
They were, however, given a lifeline with 65 minutes gone. Maroune Chamakh was threatening to break down the right and Arteta's challenge resulted in a straight red card. Suddenly, all the pressure was on the Gunners, and Wojciech Szczesny had to do brilliantly to preserve the lead after thundering strikes from first Joel Ward and Mile Jedinak in quick succession.
Crystal Palace starting lineup (4-3-3): Julian Speroni; Joel Ward, Damien Delaney, Danny Gabbidon, Dean Moxey; Mile Jedinak, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Barry Bannan (Dwight Gayle 77'); Jerome Thomas (Yannick Bolasie 58'), Adlene Guedioura (Jimmy Kebe 72'), Marouane Chamakh.
Arsenal starting lineup (4-3-3): Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini (Serge Gnabry 8' (Jack Wilshere 69')), Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla (Nacho Monreal 72'), Olivier Giroud.
Goals: Arteta 47' (p), Giroud 87'.