2 Jan 2017

Arsenal, Tottenham start 2017 with wins

9:31 am on 2 January 2017

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud scored with a superb, improvised backheeled volley to help the football team ease past struggling Crystal Palace with a 2-0 win, moving them into third spot in the Premier League.

The win keeps Arsenal in sight of Premier League leaders Chelsea, while Harry Kane's double bolstered Tottenham Hotspur's ambitions as London's triple assault on the title continues.

Arsenal players celebrate Olivier Giroud's goal.

Arsenal players congratulate Olivier Giroud after he scores a goal. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Frenchman Giroud connected with Alexis Sanchez's cross with a scorpion-like backheeled volley 17 minutes into Arsenal's derby against Crystal Palace.

Alex Iwobi made it 2-0 with a second-half header.

Arsenal had started the game outside the top four after Tottenham's 4-1 rout of a feeble Watford briefly lifted Mauricio Pochettino's side into third place on the table.

Kane scored Tottenham's first two goals, both from assists by right back Kieran Trippier, while Dele Alli made the points safe after some woeful Watford defending shortly before the halftime break.

Alli grabbed his second immediately after the interval.

Harry Kane (R) of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring with Dele Alli.

Harry Kane (R) of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring with Dele Alli. Photo: Photosport

At the halfway point of the season Chelsea, who on Saturday equalled Arsenal's 2001-02 record of 13 consecutive wins in the same Premier League campaign, have 49 points from 19 games.

Liverpool have 43 while Arsenal have 40, one more than Tottenham who are above Manchester City on goal difference.

Manchester United complete the top six, below which there is a yawning nine-point gap to seventh.

Whatever happens in the weeks ahead though, few goals are likely to be replayed as much as Giroud's stunning opener.

Having played a neat flick early in a liquid Arsenal counter-attack, Giroud rumbled forward into the area.

Sanchez's cross was not the best, falling a little behind the Frenchman, but he jack-knifed his body as he tumbled forward, connecting with his left heel.

The ball soared past diving Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey and bounced down and in off the underside of the crossbar.

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud celebrates.

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud celebrates. Photo: Photosport


I tried to take it on the back heel from behind me and I had some luck," said Giroud, who has struggled to earn a starting berth this season.

"It was about luck, I didn't have good balance but it was a great feeling," added Giroud, whose goal was similar to Henrikh Mkhitaryan's for Manchester United on Boxing Day but from further out.

"It was nice for the me and the team and was my best one."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said it was spectacular to watch.

"I have been a bit spoiled over the year by the exceptional quality of the players I've had, but it will be remembered as an exceptional goal," he said.

"Olly is very good in front of goal, but I've never seen this kind of goal from him."

- Reuters, AAP