Crystal Palace 1 Arsenal 2 analysis: Five things we learned as Mesut Ozil becomes Gunners' star man but Francis Coquelin becomes a liability

What today's match at Selhurst Park has taught us

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The Independent Online

Arsenal must drop their Premier League complex before it engulfs them

The sight of Arsene Wenger pacing the touchline at grounds across the Premier League, furiously caressing his temple, before sinking ever-deeper into his seat in the dugout is an all too familiar phenomenon for Arsenal supporters.

It's now 11 years since the Invincibles conquered English football with the Frenchman's methodical blend of champagne football and defensive steel.

Jose Mourinho, behind even Alan Pardew and Tony Pulis on Wenger's Christmas card list, stuck the boot in this week when asked about Manuel Pellegrini's surprise new contract at Manchester City.

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Arsene Wenger at Selhurst Park on Sunday

The cavalier Portuguese boss, who is hastily becoming a parody of himself, said: "Some other clubs, they have disappointed for 15 years and the manager is the same."

Arsenal's insatiable hunger to replicate the success of yesteryear, however, is beginning to resemble Real Madrid's decade-long obsession with securing 'La Decima' in the Champions League.

A preoccupation which ultimately made them phobic to the latter rounds of the competition until they finally lifted it again in 2014, the same fate is befalling those at the Emirates. Arsenal, who scraped a vital victory, it would seem, are in danger of allowing the complex to hinder them further.

Eagles now have quality to match the Palace spirit

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Crystal Palace's fans can be a weapon for Alan Pardew

 

As Steve Tongue wrote for The Independent this weekend, if you were told three months ago that Yohan Cabaye, Xherdan Shaqiri and Dmitri Payet would imminently be joining Premier League clubs, few would have predicted Crystal Palace, Stoke City and West Ham United as the beneficiaries.

The record-shattering £5.14bn top flight TV rights deal, signed in January, has given middle-of-the-road clubs newfound clout in the never relenting pursuit of the big boys.

Cabaye, signed from Paris Saint Germain for £12.8m, not only gives Alan Pardew's men a stellar midfield general in the centre of the park, but he also represents the opportunity for Palace to climb the ladder.

A constant menace for his Arsenal counterparts to contend with, the French architect should provide the assists which Glenn Murray, Conner Wickham et all will thrive off.

Olivier Giroud blows hot and cold, but he can handle the heat

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The Frenchman wheels away after his fine opener

Speaking in midweek, as rumours of Karim Benzema's forever-imminent arrival crept back onto the back pages, Arsenal's beleaguered frontman Olivier Giroud sounded like a salesman for Oliver Giroud.

The Frenchman, whose 16th minute volley even earned him the praise of his biggest detractor, Piers Morgan, has endured a love-hate relationship with supporters of all creeds of the North London club in recent times.

Giroud undoubtedly blows hot and cold. Depending on which direction he parts his hair, the 28-year-old either has Arsene Wenger skipping with joy or rubbing those temples again.

"I showed great mental strength last year and I had good stats," he said.

"I always try to improve myself and I feel with the team, so yes, I am sure I can bring something more to the team and to my team-mates."

He seems to know his weaknesses and is willing to rectify them. Wenger's transfer warchest - bolted, padlocked and sealed at the bottom of the Thames - may be safe for now if Giroud can keep up this sort of form.

Gunners need Jack Wilshere back sooner rather than later

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Jack Wilshere is seen more often in an Arsenal tracksuit than a full kit

 

In the opening exchanges of this clash, as Crystal Palace left too many men stranded, Arsenal's counter-attacking was as deadly as it was nostalgic.

This is the Arsenal we used to know and love, we mused, until present normality was temporarily resumed through Joel Ward's equaliser. The missing component? Jack Andrew Garry Wilshere.

The football community were rightfully disappointed to hear of his latest injury woe, but few were surprised.

The 23-year-old has the potential to be a linchpin for club and country, as he shown for England in June, and Arsenal badly needed his calming presence this afternoon.

Thankfully for North London regulars, from the red side at least, Wenger recently revealed: "Jack is back in training, I thought it would be six to eight weeks but it could be three or four weeks.

"He's in the second week now so he's on schedule." Rejoice.

Francis Coquelin is supposed to be Arsenal's safety net, not a liability

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Francis Coquelin protests

They say former Charlton Athletic loanee-turned-superstar Francis Coquelin could be the one of the final pieces in Arsene Wenger's jigsaw.

He has a lot of final pieces to this gargantuan jigsaw, old Arsene. But the Frenchman is quickly becoming a liability for the Gunners.

James McArthur, who seems to have a knack of luring in meaty challenges after his alternation with Nigel Pearson last year, was clattered by an already-booked Coquelin.

Wenger, showing his experience, unceremoniously hauled him off seconds later.

If it wasn't for the fact that he seems to start Premier League matches with minus-two yellow cards, at least, he could have been dismissed both this week and last.

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