London: Arsenal got back on track after their opening day meltdown as Olivier Giroud`s superb volley inspired a 2-1 Premier League win against Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Arsene Wenger`s side were embarrassed by a woeful 2-0 home defeat against West Ham United last weekend, but they went some way to restoring their confidence with a gritty display at Selhurst Park.
While it was still far from a vintage Arsenal performance, there were reasons for Wenger to be encouraged -- none more significant than the memorable strike from much-criticised France forward Giroud which opened the scoring in the first half.
Also heartening for Wenger was the way Arsenal refused to be shaken by Joel Ward`s excellent equaliser, keeping their equilibrium to regain the lead through a Damien Delaney own goal and holding firm in the closing stages to secure their first win of the season.
The Gunners hadn`t lost at Palace since 1979 and extending that run was essential as Wenger`s team try to avoid a repeat of the slow start that shattered their title challenge last season.
Key to Arsenal`s hopes of a first title since 2004 is the form of Alexis Sanchez and the Chile winger, making a belated maiden start of the season after his country`s victorious Copa America campaign, was quickly back in the thick of the action.
After Yohan Cabaye`s shot from a Palace corner had been blocked, Arsenal broke at speed and Mesut Ozil sent Sanchez through on goal.
However, Sanchez`s ponderous touch allowed Ward to block his first shot before his effort from the rebound was cleared off the line by James McArthur.
Even so, Palace`s last-ditch defending was never likely to keep Arsenal at bay for long and Wenger`s men deservedly took the lead in the 16th minute.
Lambasted by Arsenal fans for his inconsistent form last season, Giroud still retains Wenger`s support and he showed why with an instinctive strike that should silence his critics for a while.
Ozil, surging down the left edge of the penalty area, whipped a cross towards Giroud and from 12 yards out the French striker pivoted to guide an acrobatic left-foot volley past Palace keeper Alex McCarthy for his first goal of the season.Sanchez threatened to double Arsenal`s lead when he cut in from the right to fire a low shot that McCarthy pushed away.
But Arsenal`s Achilles heel remains their fragile defence and they were exposed again in the 28th minute as Palace, out-played for much of the first half, suddenly found themselves level.
With Arsenal`s defence fatally backing off too far, Yannick Bolasie was able to chest down to McArthur, who teed up Ward on the edge of the area and the right-back drilled a superb strike beyond Petr Cech into the far corner.
Cech had been castigated for his role in the West Ham loss and, while this wasn`t an obvious mistake, he might regret the way he failed to fully extend his arms as he dived.
While Cech rued the one that got away, a fine save from McCarthy stopped Aaron Ramsey restoring Arsenal`s lead when the Wales midfielder met Ozil`s cross with a flicked shot.
Francis Coquelin was lucky to escape a red card when the Arsenal midfielder, already on a booking, clattered into Wilfried Zaha just before half-time.
Wenger`s side had another let-off soon after the interval when Connor Wickham stretched to poke Zaha`s cross onto the near post.
And Arsenal enjoyed another stroke of good fortune to go back in front in the 55th minute when Sanchez`s downward header from Hector Bellerin`s cross was diverted into his own net by Palace captain Delaney.
In a tense finale, Arsenal grew increasingly nervous, but they clung on as Jordon Mutch headed over from close range and Ward saw his header held on the line by Cech.