Arsenal relied on Martin Odegaard’s 54th-minute penalty and a defensive masterclass when down to 10 men late on to secure a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace in the English Premier League on Monday.
Takehiro Tomiyasu was sent off in the 67th minute after a second yellow card, forcing Arsenal to retreat to preserve its second straight victory to open the campaign.
Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace offered a typically challenging workout and were encouraged during the final quarter by Tomiyasu’s dismissal.
The decision to send off the Japanese infuriated Mikel Arteta but his side packed with defenders behind the ball held out with relative confidence against the hosts bereft of cutting edge.
Palace have always been compact and fast-breaking under Hodgson but his attacking options are severely limited at present, not least by the hamstring injury to France youth international of Nigerian descent Michael Olise.
Last week Olise signed a new contract despite an offer to join Chelsea and that seemed to reenergise the fanbase.
They also roared their team forward and could reflect, midway through the first half, that they had come closest.
Arteta again chose only three specialist defenders, Tomiyasu replacing the unlucky Jurrien Timber, and saw his attackers dictate possession as expected.
But Palace posed a threat down the right, William Saliba and Aaron Ramsdale cutting out crosses from Jordan Ayew, and almost wrought a clear sight of goal when Odsonne Édouard slalomed into the box before failing to outwit Ben White.
Palace’s most obvious creative danger and Nigerian-born England international, Eberechi Eze, then forced Ramsdale to save a well-struck drive from 22 yards.
When Cheick Doucouré took aim shortly afterwards Ramsdale dived at full stretch, although the ball flew at least a metre wide.
Apart from an early opening for Gabriel Martinelli that was blocked, Arsenal had found little encouragement.
That changed just before the half-hour when Palace built uncertainly from the back and Jeffrey Schlupp was robbed, Bukayo Saka swiftly prodding through for Eddie Nketiah.
Alone and to the right of goal, Nketiah slid his finish past Sam Johnstone neatly enough but saw it rebound off the far post.
Six minutes later, played in similarly by Declan Rice, he found himself inside the six-yard box but lifted over; if he had been unfortunate previously, this was a glaring miss.
The Gunners fought valiantly to defend their lead and has grinded out two wins in two games.
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Izuchukwu Okosi is a Nigerian sports and entertainment journalist with two decades of experience in the media industry having begun his media journey in 2002 as an intern at Mundial Sports International (MSI) and Africa Independent Television (AIT), owners of Daar Communications Plc.
In October 2004, Okosi joined Complete Communications Limited, publishers of Complete Sports newspaper and Complete Football magazine as a reporter and later script writer for the Complete Sports studio.
He worked there for 13 years until October 2017.
Okosi also worked various times as Correspondent, Content creator and Editor at Sports Market International Magazine, Opera News, All Nigeria Soccer Media and Iconic Media Watch.
He also undertook freelance writing gigs for some local and international organizations.
Okosi is a member of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Association of Voiceover Artistes of Nigeria (AVOA), Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) and Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
He has been part of cast in some Nollywood movies and radio dramas including Blood Money 2, Scores To Settle, Dead End 2, Another Campus Tale and Battle Line.
Aside mainstream media and the entertainment industry, he has interests in scouting/unearthing of talents in the sports and creative sectors, exports business and property development.