Matt Barlow for the Daily Mail

A vibrant game of two wonderful goals was settled by a clumsy one, sliced into his own net by Damien Delaney.

It seemed such a shame after Olivier Giroud’s fabulous scissor-kick and a crisp 25-yarder from the right boot of Joel Ward.

But once Crystal Palace’s crestfallen captain had hauled himself off the turf, Arsenal produced evidence to support claims that this season they are tough enough to engage in a scrap when required. 

Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez celebrates what turned out to be his side’s winning goal after playing a crucial role in the own goal

Crystal Palace defender Damien Delaney can only watch on as his attempted clearance lands in the back of Alex McCarthy’s net

Crystal Palace right back Joel Ward celebrates with Connor Wickham, Jason Puncheon and Yohan Cabaye after making it 1-1

Gunners goalscorer Olivier Giroud acknowledges the travelling Arsenal support after giving his side the lead in the 16th minute

Gunners goalscorer Olivier Giroud acknowledges the travelling Arsenal support after giving his side the lead in the 16th minute

MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE 

 

CRYSTAL PALACE (4-2-3-1): McCarthy 6.5; Ward 6, Dann 7, Delaney 6.5, Souare 6.5; Cabaye 6.5, McArthur 7 (Bamford 80mins, 6); Zaha 6.5 (Chung-Yong 76, 6), Puncheon 6.5, Bolasie 5 (Mutch 46, 6); Wickham 6.5

Subs not used: Hennessey, Mariappa, Jedinak, Murray

Goal: Ward 28

Booked: McArthur 

Manager: Pardew 6.5 

ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Cech 6.5; Bellerin 6.5, Mertesacker 7, Koscielny 6.5, Monreal 6.5; Coquelin 6.5 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 64, 6), Ramsey 6.5; Sanchez 7 (Arteta 75, 6), Ozil 7.5 (Gibbs 83, 6), Cazorla 7; Giroud 7

Subs not used: Ospina, Debuchy, Gabriel, Walcott

Goal: Giroud 16, Delaney OG 55 

Booked: Coquelin

Referee: Lee Mason

Attendance: 24,732

Player ratings by Sami Mokbel 

The current Premier League table

Olivier Giroud scored the opening goal at Selhurst Park by executing an exquisite finish following a fine passing move by the away side - click HERE for more of our brilliant Match Zone

Olivier Giroud scored the opening goal at Selhurst Park by executing an exquisite finish following a fine passing move by the away side – click HERE for more of our brilliant Match Zone

It was not apparent when they lost at home to West Ham on the opening day of the campaign, when Arsene Wenger accused them of being both complacent and nervous.

But here they knuckled down and fought to protect their advantage against a strong Palace team, one with pace and mobility which will disturb some of the best teams in the months ahead. 

For Wenger, all that mattered was the result. He replaced Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez with Kieran Gibbs and Mikel Arteta. He also hauled off Francis Coquelin before he was sent off.

Sanchez and Ozil trudged away unhappily, and it seemed significant that Wenger was ready to sacrifice his two most gifted players as the clock ticked down.

It was a clue to the importance of this result in the context of Arsenal’s season. Last year, a bad start ruled them out of the title race before it had begun. This year had to be different.

Hence Per Merstesacker’s ungainly knee-slide and plea at the feet of referee Lee Mason, who had wrongly awarded Palace a corner in a tense closing spell.

Arsenal remain vulnerable from set-pieces and they know it. As it turned out, Jordan Mutch nodded it over. Then Petr Cech saved from Ward from another corner, before the final whistle brought Wenger relief.

Arsenal can be congratulated on their resilience and their response having stewed for a week on the West Ham defeat. 

Giroud's acrobatic shot landed in the back of the net after Delaney failed to block his goalbound effort from flying past McCarthy  

Giroud’s acrobatic shot landed in the back of the net after Delaney failed to block his goalbound effort from flying past McCarthy  

France international Giroud raced to the touchline to celebrate with fellow countryman Mathieu Debuchy after putting his side in the lead

France international Giroud raced to the touchline to celebrate with fellow countryman Mathieu Debuchy after putting his side in the lead

Arsenal striker Giroud is all smiles after putting his side in the lead by scoring his first goal of the season, while Wilfried Zaha looks on 

Arsenal striker Giroud is all smiles after putting his side in the lead by scoring his first goal of the season, while Wilfried Zaha looks on 

Sanchez, restored to the team after an extended summer break, added energy and threat and was central to the Delaney own goal, early into the second half.

The Chilean almost struck after just seven minutes, when the visitors broke with clinical precision. Coquelin and Santi Cazorla combined to find Ozil and he slid Sanchez in on goal.

It was a breath-taking counter-attack but Palace’s recovery defending was equally impressive.

Ward sprinted and slid to block the first effort and then James McArthur was back on his own goal-line to clear when the rebound presented Sanchez with another chance.

Even so, Arsenal were soon ahead when Giroud converted an Ozil cross in spectacular style.

The centre-forward dropped into a pocket of space, adjusted his feet as the ball came his way, took off, twisted in mid-air and hooked the ball past Alex McCarthy with his left boot.

Thierry Henry would have been proud. It was Giroud’s first goal in the Barclays Premier League since early April and his first since Henry claimed Wenger’s team would never with the title with him up front.

Ozil’s early delivery was precisely the type of service on which he thrives, and the German playmaker was alert and hugely influential. 

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger takes to his feet to celebrate Giroud's first-half opener along with his coaching staff and substitutes

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger takes to his feet to celebrate Giroud’s first-half opener along with his coaching staff and substitutes

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech looks dejected after conceding his third Premier League goal since completing his move to north London

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech looks dejected after conceding his third Premier League goal since completing his move to north London

Each touch had a little extra silkiness and each pass delivered with more feel and appreciation. He is a delight to watch when in this sort of mood, and he was central to Arsenal’s early dominance.

He drifted left and linked well with Sanchez and Nacho Monreal, and there were times when Ward was overwhelmed but it was the Palace right-back who equalised.

Jason Puncheon’s long angled pass was chested dwon by Yannick Bolasie and eased into Ward’s path by McArthur. Ward met it sweetly, flashing a shot across the turf and in off the far post.

Cech had no chance and the goal injected belief, energising players, supporters and manager Alan Pardew, who was soon remonstrating with the officials about penalties and red cards.

Coquelin bit in midfield as Arsenal repelled the Palace fight-back and was fortunate not to be sent off for a cluster of fouls either side of half-time.

Having just been booked for a mistimed slide on Bolasie, he tripped Wilfried Zaha in midfield. It was not nasty but it was cynical, halting a dangerous counter-attack.

Referee Mason gave him the benefit of the doubt, only to then book McArthur for a very similar offence, when he felled Coquelin.

It was not the only odd call from Mason during this period. He also awarded a foul against Connor Wickham when he was booted in the head by Monreal. 

Ward lets fly from long range before his shot lands in the back of Cech's net despite the keeper diving down to his right-hand side

Ward lets fly from long range before his shot lands in the back of Cech’s net despite the keeper diving down to his right-hand side

Former Portsmouth defender Ward shares a word with Puncheon after scoring only his second ever goal for Crystal Palace

Former Portsmouth defender Ward shares a word with Puncheon after scoring only his second ever goal for Crystal Palace

Ward pretends to blow a kiss to the stands as he celebrates Crystal Palace's first home of the new Premier League campaign

Ward pretends to blow a kiss to the stands as he celebrates Crystal Palace’s first home of the new Premier League campaign

Delaney vents his frustration following his  own goal which gifted Arsenal the three points during a tight contest in south London

Delaney vents his frustration following his own goal which gifted Arsenal the three points during a tight contest in south London

Arsenal defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin is shown a yellow card by Premier League official Lee Mason during the first half

Palace, after seeing Cameron Jerome’s overhead kick disallowed at Norwich, were entitled to feel bewildered.

Coquelin kept snapping into tackles and the home crowd roared for a red card. One on McArthur after the break must have tempted Mason. “The pressure was on,” admitted Wenger, who eventually replaced him with Alex Oxlade-Chamerlain.

Wickham hit a post, soon after the interval, but it was Delaney’s intervention that would prove the most crucial.

Sanchez sprang high above Ward to meet a deep cross from Hector Bellerin and head it firmly back into the goalmouth.

It would probably not have gone in, but for Delaney who, off balance, swung his right foot at the ball but was never in control and his clearance squirted past goalkeeper McCarthy.

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew and first-team coach John Salako remonstrate with the referee after Coquelin avoids a second yellow

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew and first-team coach John Salako remonstrate with the referee after Coquelin avoids a second yellow

Crystal Palace summer signing Cabaye attempts to close down Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil during the first half of the league contest

Crystal Palace summer signing Cabaye attempts to close down Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil during the first half of the league contest

Arsenal left back Nacho Monreal, who was selected over Kieran Gibbs, goes down under a challenge by Crystal Palace winger Zaha

Arsenal left back Nacho Monreal, who was selected over Kieran Gibbs, goes down under a challenge by Crystal Palace winger Zaha

Eagles supporters hold up a 'Palace spirit' banner ahead of their side's first home Premier League fixture of the 2015-16 campaign

Eagles supporters hold up a ‘Palace spirit’ banner ahead of their side’s first home Premier League fixture of the 2015-16 campaign

Tempers flare as stewards attempt to remove a Crystal Palace banner from the stands during the match at Selhurst Park on Sunday 

Tempers flare as stewards attempt to remove a Crystal Palace banner from the stands during the match at Selhurst Park on Sunday 

Injured goalkeeper Julian Speroni is greeted by a Crystal Palace's mascot as he makes his way to his seat ahead of the match 

Injured goalkeeper Julian Speroni is greeted by a Crystal Palace’s mascot as he makes his way to his seat ahead of the match 

Former Crystal Palace and Arsenal striker Ian Wright arrived at Selhurst Park on a motorbike before watching the Premier League clash

Former Crystal Palace and Arsenal striker Ian Wright arrived at Selhurst Park on a motorbike before watching the Premier League clash

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