Arsenal: Hard-Fought Win at Crystal Palace Is Perfect Response to Midweek

Callum MackenzieContributor IIIOctober 26, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26:  Olivier Giroud of Arsenal celebrates his goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on October 26, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Arsenal claimed a hard-earned and gritty win over Crystal Palace in Saturday's early fixture at Selhurst Park to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table, and the 2-0 triumph represents a lot more than merely three points.

Bouncing back from the disappointment of conceding Robert Lewandowski's late winner against Borussia Dortmund in Champions League action on Tuesday, Arsene Wenger's men fully deserved the spoils against managerless Palace.

Despite this encounter being caretaker-manager Keith Millen's first game in charge in the Premier League, the Eagles performed admirably and pressed throughout the 90 minutes. Adding Mikel Arteta's questionable red card to the mix makes Arsenal's efforts in holding on to claim the victory even more remarkable.

The game was also notable for spectacular performances for players in Arsenal shirts outside of those usual midfield suspects; two Gunners who shined in particular are Wojciech Szczesny and Bacary Sagna.

When an invigorated Palace side sprung forward following Arteta's early exit, the Pole in goal had to be on hand to make some crucial saves, specifically one superb stop from a dangerous Mile Jedinak volley.

Bacary Sagna remains an important figure for Arsenal.
Bacary Sagna remains an important figure for Arsenal./Getty Images

Performances like this will continue to build Szczesny's confidence and reputation as a reliable and commanding shot-stopper. It would not be a stretch to say that this season Szczesny has looked more like Jens Lehmann's true heir than ever before.

In addition, the perennially and criminally underrated Sagna was excellent again, both bombing forward to find space and pick out the accurate cross and cutting out Palace attacks in the making on Arsenal's right side. The Frenchman, forever known as Arsenal's "Mr. Consistent," has lived up to his moniker time and again this campaign.

But all in all, it was a team effort from Wenger's men to earn the win in south London this afternoon. Coming together after that midweek loss, the victory represents the absence of a slump in confidence, the level of morale throughout the squad remaining high.

As well as this, an away win—no matter the opposition—is always a valuable commodity in the Premier League. If Arsenal can continue winning no matter where they're playing, the Gunners will continue to grow as a fearsome side—such is the reputation of being the league's leaders.

Tuesday brings a particularly stern test, when "Le Professeur" renews contact with Jose Mourinho and a dangerous Chelsea side in Capital One Cup competition—and despite Arsenal's enviable position atop the Premier League pack, cup football remains a high priority for both Arsenal and their fans.

Maintaining confidence during today's game was absolutely key for future fixtures—and that is exactly what Arsenal have done. Three points, well earned.