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EPL: Arsenal snatch late opening day win over Crystal Palace

updated 5:59 AM EDT, Sun August 17, 2014
Arsenal players celebrate after Aaron Ramsey scores a late winner against Crystal Palace.
Arsenal players celebrate after Aaron Ramsey scores a late winner against Crystal Palace.
  • Arsenal claim 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace thanks to stoppage time goal
  • Hangeland puts Palace in front but Koscielny equalizes before half time
  • Aaron Ramsey scores in injury time to ensure Arsenal win
  • Manchester United lose to Swansea on opening day

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(CNN) -- Arsenal left it late but an injury time goal from Aaron Ramsey was enough to get the better of Crystal Palace and secure a closely fought 2-1 victory on the opening day of the 2014/15 EPL season.

Brede Hangeland had given Palace -- who parted company with manager Tony Pulis on Thursday following reported disagreements over transfer policy -- the lead midway through the first half as the Norwegian rose highest to flick a Jason Puncheon corner beyond a static Wojciech Szczesny in the Arsenal goal.

Laurent Koscielny drew the Gunners level on the stroke of halftime, nodding home a Santi Cazorla free kick after being left unmarked in the Palace box.

Despite controlling much of the game and having far greater possession, Arsenal struggled to create much in the way of clear-cut chances.

Puncheon was sent off after 88 minutes for sliding in late on Nacho Monreal to receive a second yellow card.

It was perhaps a harsh decision but one that had little bearing on what was to follow as Ramsey fired home after Palace keeper Julian Speroni had reacted to keep out Mathieu Debuchy's close range effort.

"It was very difficult. They came out and defended really well and were very tough to break down," Ramsey told Sky Sports after the match.

"They lost their manager earlier in the week but you'd never have known that the way they played. But that's irrelevant. The result is what we were looking for and we got the three points."

Hopes are high for the Gunners this season thanks to May's FA Cup win and a convincing victory over reigning EPL champions Manchester City in last weekend's Charity Shield.

Arsene Wenger has also invested considerably, spending over $100 million on players like Debuchy, Alexis Sanchez, David Ospina and Calum Chambers.

However, they will need to improve on Saturday's performance to have any chance of winning the league crown for the first time since 2005.

Wenger's men will at least be lifted by the imminent return of German World Cup winning trio Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski who were given extended summer leave to recover from their heroics in Brazil.

"Credit to Palace, they fought hard. They were physically strong and well organized," Wenger said of his opponents later.

"We still lack a little bit a change of pace, but they gave us big problems in defense. (But) we keep going, that's one of our strengths, and it paid off today."

Arsenal will now prepare for Tuesday's Champions League playoff first leg match against Turkish side Besiktas in Istanbul.

EPL Roundup

In Saturday's other games, Louis Van Gaal suffered defeat in his first EPL match as Manchester United went down 2-1 to Swansea City at Old Trafford.

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Goals from Ki Sung Yueng and Gylfi Sigurdsson either side of a spectacular Wayne Rooney overhead kick ensured the Swans left Manchester with a well deserved victory.

There was late drama at Upton Park as 20-year-old defender Eric Dier scored in the 90th minute to hand Tottenham Hotspur a narrow 1-0 win over London rivals West Ham.

Both sides had men sent off earlier in the game which marked former Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino's first game in charge of Spurs. West Ham's Mark Noble also missed a penalty.

Hull City won away from home at newly promoted Queens Park Rangers thanks to a solitary goal from James Chester. Rangers blew a golden opportunity to salvage a point, however, when Charlie Austin's penalty was saved by Hull keeper Allan McGregor.

A single Andreas Weimann goal was enough to give Aston Villa victory over Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium while Sunderland and West Brom drew 2-2 as did newly promoted Leicester City and Everton.

Sunday will see Liverpool take on Southampton at Anfield while defending champions Manchester City will begin their campaign away to Newcastle United.

Burnley will welcome Chelsea on Monday.

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