Arsenal have kept apace in the hunt for a top four spot with a 3-2 win away to Crystal Palace, courtesy of an Alexis Sanchez brace.

The Chilean’s two goals proved to be the perfect reply to Andros Townsend’s second-half equaliser, after the Gunners had taken the lead in the first period through Shkodran Mustafi.

A late goal from James Tomkins promised to fizz up the final minutes of the game, but Arsenal would hold on to claim their first away win of the month.

With Nacho Monreal out, Arsène Wenger called on Calum Chambers to slot into Arsenal’s backline when reverting to a three-man-defence.

Currently experiencing their richest run of form in recent times, Crystal Palace looked to threaten early through Yohan Cabaye’s shot from range, flashing by Petr Čech’s post in the 16th minute.

Arsenal reacted well, fashioning chances for both Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka to try their luck from the edge of the box before encountering defensive blocks at the half-way-point of the first period.

Shkodran Mustafi was on hand to make the Gunners’ growing dominance count in the 25th minute, anticipating Alexandre Lacazette’s parried shot first and opening Arsenal’s account with a side-footed tap-in at the back-post.

Through Mesut Özil, Wenger’s men could have added to their 1-0 lead when the German failed to squeeze a shot past the on-rushing Julian Speroni from Alexis Sanchez’s inch-perfect through-ball.

Shortly after, the ex-Real Madrid man sought to overcome Speroni with a cute and selfless pass across to Héctor Bellerín, but the Arsenal full-back would stand little chance of meeting it.

The second half commenced with yet another sighting of goal for the North Londoners, as Alexis’ cross into Bellerín saw the Spaniard cushion the ball out of danger, rather than taking aim on the volley.

As a result, Arsenal were left cursing their luck in front of goal when a hopeful cross from Wilfried Zaha made its way to Andros Townsend before the winger could smash a shot deep into the bottom corner, as Palace made it 1-1 in the 50th minute.

The hosts looked to pile the pressure on Arsenal but would later see the Gunners restore the lead, as Sanchez, aided by Lacazette’s hold-up play, sunk a first-time shot past Speroni in the 63rd minute.

Just three minutes later, the visitors would make it 3-1, again through Sanchez, with Wilshere picking out a pass over the top for the Chilean to bring down and finish into the bottom corner.

Arsenal eyed up more, as Bellerín marauded forward to fire a half-volley from the right and force a save out of Speroni, meanwhile, at the other end, Zaha scuppered the chance induce panic in the final stages when miscueing his diving header wide in the 83rd minute.

Tomkins did, however, pull a goal back for Palace in the 89th minute from a set-piece, but the Gunners would be able to manage the final moments carefully and hold onto their 3-2 win at full-time.

By Patrick Ribeiro

(@P_SRibeiro)

Starting XI: Petr Čech (6) – Calum Chambers (6), Shkodran Mustafi (6), Laurent Koscielny (6) – Héctor Bellerín (6), Jack Wilshere (7), Granit Xhaka (6), Sead Kolasinac (6) – Mesut Özil (6), Alexis Sanchez (8), Alexandre Lacazette (6)

Subs: Francis Coquelin (-), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (-)

Written by Patrick Ribeiro

Freelance journalist. @P_SRibeiro

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