Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sent Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League on Sunday as his first goals in more than a year clinched a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace. In the early kick off, Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion, a result that saw Everton catch up in the race for fourth place.
Making his first league start since August in an injury-curtailed season, Oxlade-Chamberlain broke through the resilient visitors two minutes into the second half by lifting the ball into the net. And, having not scored for Arsenal since December 2012, Oxlade-Chamberlain slotted in a second in the 73rd minute as he slotted seamlessly back into the injury-hit team.
Having lost the league lead by drawing at Southampton in midweek, Arsenal moved back to the summit at least until Monday night when second-place Manchester City hosts Chelsea.
The win sets up Arsenal for a challenging period ahead, with Liverpool (twice), Manchester United and Bayern Munich coming up in the next four fixtures. And the victory should dispel concerns, for now, about manager Arsene Wenger not spending in the January transfer window.
Palace restricted Arsenal to just one shot in the opening half-hour, and that was from a defender. Goalkeeper Julian Speroni raced off his line in the seventh minute to meet Nacho Monreal, and block the shot with his right leg.
Arsenal ended the half with nothing to show for its 76 percent possession, but landed an immediate blow on the visitors after the break. And the goal was just reward for the slick build-up. Santi Cazorla weaved his way through the Palace defence, and dinked the ball over for Oxlade-Chamberlain to lift it over Speroni.
After Podolski fired into sidenetting, Oxlade-Chamberlain found the target again. Thomas Rosicky knocked the ball forward to Olivier Giroud, who backheeled it for Oxlade-Chamberlain to strike low into the net.
Liverpool missed a chance to strengthen its place in the Premier League’s top four on Sunday when Kolo Toure gifted West Bromwich Albion an equaliser in a 1-1 draw. Liverpool took the lead against the run of play when Luis Suarez set up Daniel Sturridge to poke the ball into the net in the 24th minute.
But the winning position was thrown away in the 67th when Toure’s slack clearance went straight to Victor Anichebe, who levelled with a low shot. The draw pushed West Brom a point clear of the relegation zone. Liverpool is fourth, three points behind Chelsea, which is at leader Manchester City on Monday.