Olivier Giroud scored a awe-inspiring 'scorpion kick' backheel for Arsenal, who settle in to third place after beating Crystal Palace 2-0.
The neat, passing move that led to Arsenal’s opener was impressive enough and was magnificently finished off by Giroud, who provoked a collective gasp as he produced a breath-taking improvised strike reminiscent of Henrikh Mkhitaryan's recent goal for Manchester United. Alex Iwobi made sure the points stayed at the Emirates with a second half header.
The result leaves Arsenal third - nine points behind leaders Chelsea who won at home to Stoke yesterday. Joining them in the top four are Tottenham, who nudged Manchester City down a place earlier on Sunday by beating Watford 4-1.
Goals of the season
Mkhitaryan made a strong claim for the Puskás award for goal of the season, with his stunning backheeled finish in United's 3-1 win over Sunderland on Boxing Day, and Giroud’s was just as good, if not better.
Earlier, the French striker had squandered a golden chance by failing to get a good connection on a Monreal cross, but on 17 minutes he made amends in spectacular style. The move started as the Gunners won back possession near their own penalty area; Lucas Pérez slid in to cut out a squared pass from Mathieu Flamini to start a sweeping, passing move which involved Bellerín, Giroud, Xhaka and Iwobi who played the ball wide to Alexis Sánchez. The Chilean’s cross fell behind Giroud but instinctively, he connected with a backheel that sent the ball looping over Wayne Hennessey and in after clipping the underside of the bar.
Iwobi doubled Arsenal's lead just before the hour, heading in a loose ball in the six yard box. Palace rallied but were unable to make a change to the scoreboard as the hosts brought up their 12th league win of the campaign.
Giroud said afterwards that he got lucky, and maybe subconsciously was inspired by seeing Mkhitaryan’s Boxing Day stunner: “I have maximum luck, it's just about luck – I’ve never done anything like that before. It was the only thing I could do, the ball was behind me and I tried to hit it with a backheel. Maybe that [Mkhitaryan] goal inspired me. It's the only thing you can do in that position. It is nice for me and the team because we start the year with a win”.
Manager Arsène Wenger added: “His reflex surprised everybody who knows football and that's what makes the goal great. I have been a bit spoilt over the years by the exceptional quality of the players I've had, but it will be remembered as an exceptional goal. Olly is very good in front of goal, but I've never seen this kind of goal from him”.
A couple of hours before Arsenal and Palace played, Spurs were in action away at Watford. Goals from Harry Kane and Dele Alli handed Pochettino’s team a second straight win by 4 goals to 1 which keeps them in contention. Kaboul grabbed a stoppage-time consolation for the home team. Spurs boss Pochettino was delighted with his team: “The first half was one of the best we've played this season. I'm very happy because it was a difficult game and the team responded”, he said.