Arsenal battled to a well-deserved 2-1 victory against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park - a victory that sees Arsene Wenger's side climb up to third place in the Premier League table.
Santi Cazorla opened the scoring from the spot inside the opening 10 minutes, before Olivier Giroud added a second thanks to a close-range finish on the 45-minute mark. Glenn Murray pulled one back for Palace at the death, but unfortunately for the hosts, the damage had already been done.
It was Giroud's strike that had the decisive impact, testament to the 28-year-old's contribution. In a difficult physical contest for the Gunners, he remained an attacking outpost from kick-off to full-time, while he wasn't shy when it came to getting stuck in - both in an attacking and defensive capacity.
Despite being forced into a more reserved striking role, due to tight Crystal Palace marking, the Frenchman was still able to fashion four attempts at goal, from which he hit the target on two occasions. His goal came from the easiest of his efforts. After Danny Welbeck's attempt had been saved by Julian Speroni, the Frenchman was on hand to net the rebound.
|Position||Goals||Total Shots||Shot Accuracy (%)||Key Passes||Pass Accuracy (%)||Dribbles||Aerial Won||Total Tackles||Mins Played|
Giroud's hold-up play and ability to retain possession while playing as a lone striker is a tremendous tool for Arsene Wenger's side, but it is fair to say his use of the ball was poor at Selhurst Park. His distribution, in particular, proved exceptionally frustrating, as he completed just 60.8% of his 51 attempted passes, while crafting a single key pass.
Nonetheless, this was one of very few negatives in a dominant performance for the Frenchman. In fact, he cut an imposing figure during his 90 minutes on the field. He won a match-best nine aerial duels, as well as completing two take-ons. Meanwhile, he was able to assist in a defensive capacity, winning one tackle and completing one interception.
Without really coming to life throughout the contest, Giroud still made a telling difference. His strike at the end of the first half, his 50th in the red and white of Arsenal, made it five goals and three assists in his last seven outings, while securing a much needed three points for the Gunners, who are rapidly closing the gap on the Premier League leaders.