Sanchez double gives Arsenal victory over Palace

Alexis Sanchez scored twice as Arsenal won at Crystal Palace to move within a point of fourth-placed Liverpool.

Shkodran Mustafi opened the scoring when he poked in after Palace keeper Julian Speroni parried Alexandre Lacazette’s shot, according to the BBC.

The hosts caught out a static Arsenal defence early in the second half to equalise – Andros Townsend turning in Wilfried Zaha’s cross from close range.

Sanchez restored the Gunners’ lead when he squeezed a clinical strike in at Speroni’s near post before the Chile international added a third four minutes later, bringing Jack Wilshere’s superb ball under control and flicking into the net.

Palace set up a nervy finish when James Tomkins headed home from a corner inside the final minute, but Arsenal held on to ensure Arsene Wenger marked equalling Sir Alex Ferguson’s record of managing in 810 Premier League games with a

After three draws and just one win from their four previous Premier League outings, this was arguably an important game for the Gunners in their bid to remain in the hunt for a top-four finish, especially after wins for rivals Liverpool and Chelsea in midweek.

They started the day with six points fewer than they had at the same stage last season – and Wenger’s side ultimately finished outside the Champions League places – so a positive result and performance was needed to help ease any Arsenal fans’ concerns their campaign was in danger of fizzling out.

For large periods, the performance was certainly there. The visitors often produced some of their best attacking play of the season, particularly in the first half when Palace could not cope with short, intricate passing that time and again opened up the defence.

But their inability to finish off the many opportunities they created meant their opponents always had a chance to get back into the game. That proved the case early in the second half when Zaha’s cross caught Arsenal’s defence asleep and Townsend struck.

A five-minute spell of Arsenal disarray followed and the Gunners could easily have found themselves falling behind, but Sanchez – so often Arsenal’s saviour – settled the nerves with two moments of quality.

But even with a two-goal cushion Arsenal were never at ease, and Wenger’s concern about his side’s defensive frailties was highlighted by his decision to replace striker Lacazette with Francis Coquelin late on. That was still not enough to prevent Palace from reducing the deficit to one, setting up a tense finale.

“It was an excellent game, end to end, but you just cannot be convinced by Arsenal,” former Gunners and Crystal Palace defender Matt Upson, commentating on the game for BBC Radio 5 live, said.

“At times, some of their passing and movement was mesmerising, just brilliant – but at the other end you see their vulnerabilities and frailties and why they are sitting sixth in the league.”