Monreal's creative cameo sets up emphatic Arsenal win vs. Palace
Four goals in the opening 22 minutes gave Arsenal their first Premier League win since beating the same opposition 3-2 on Dec. 28. Nacho Monreal opening the scoring then turned provider for Alex Iwobi and Laurent Koscielny. Alexandre Lacazette netted his first goal in 10 games to make it 4-0.
The second half was a pedestrian affair, with Arsenal in no need to score more and Palace more conscious of conceding again although Luka Milivojevic pulled one back late on for the visitors. For a team in need of three points, the win was very welcome for Arsenal as they look to stay in touch with the top four.
Scoring goals quickly helps dictate the momentum of a game and the efficiency with which Arsenal took their chances was welcome. Mesut Ozil added another dimension to their attacking play, while Lacazette ended his worrying goal drought and Iwobi will take confidence from another productive day, having been subject to intense, and rather unfair, treatment at times this season. Petr Cech also made some good saves, though his 200th career clean sheet continues to elude him.
The only real setback was the departure of Monreal with what looked like a hamstring issue after 34 minutes. The Spanish defender had shown great quality on his return from a month out and Arsene Wenger will hope not to lose the versatile defender for another extended period.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Wenger reverted to a back four, his team played as well as they have for weeks and won 4-1. A good day.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Petr Cech, 8 -- He'll be disappointed to have been beaten late on but made some good saves. In particular, one from Christian Benteke was outstanding.
DF Hector Bellerin, 7 -- Patrolled the right side well, got forward to good effect and was switched on throughout, despite Palace swapping their wide men at times.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 8 -- On top of his goal, he made nine clearances and three interceptions and looked more like his old self, having had a couple of weeks' rest because of injury.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 8 -- He made a crucial early intervention to prevent danger and that set the tone for his performance. Always on the front foot, Mustafi won the ball aggressively throughout.
DF Nacho Monreal, 9 -- Lasted just over 30 minutes but, in that time, scored one and had two assists. Arsenal fans will keep their fingers crossed that his injury is not too serious.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 7 -- A solid display from the Egyptian international, who is a safe option in midfield. His passing is not ambitious but keeps Arsenal ticking and in possession; he 97 passes at a 96 percent success rate.
MF Granit Xhaka, 7 -- Like Elneny, he kept things moving well but there were moments when a player of his passing ability might have done more to open up the opposition.
MF Jack Wilshere, 7 -- He was functional and perhaps looks as if a hectic recent schedule is catching up with him.
MF Mesut Ozil, 8 -- Superb in the first half, his backheeled assist to Lacazette was a measure of his quality. Tired a bit in the second period and, having missed recent games with a knee injury, was withdrawn with 20 minutes to go.
MF Alex Iwobi, 8 -- He's been the brunt of criticism this season but showed his potential with a goal, excellent interchanges during Arsenal's best period of the game and defensive awareness.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 7 -- Good to see him back among the goals and his finish was excellent. He could have had a penalty late on but the referee chose not to award it.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 7 -- It was interesting that he came on for Monreal, rather than the natural defender, Sead Kolasinac. Maitland-Niles had a careless moment or two, but got on top of Wilfried Zaha as the game went on.
Reiss Nelson, NR -- Was handed his Premier League debut in the 72nd minute and showed some flashes of his potential.
Sead Kolasinac, NR -- Brought on with eight minutes to go as Arsenal looked to shore things up completely.
Andrew Mangan is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @arseblog.