By Martyn Herman
LONDON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Organisation and resilience replaced dazzling attacking play as Arsenal eased to a 2-0 victory at struggling Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday.
A week after their free-flowing passing style dismantled Norwich City, Arsenal made heavy weather of beating a Palace side reeling from the departure of their manager in midweek and with seven defeats from their opening eight matches.
Arsenal needed Mikel Arteta's penalty to break the deadlock shortly after halftime and then, when the Spaniard was sent off, required some resolute defending and a couple of saves from keeper Wojciech Szczesny to keep plucky Palace at bay.
With record signing Mesut Ozil having a quiet game Arsenal were not the attacking force seen so often this season and needed Olivier Giroud's late header to seal the points to keep Arsenal on top of the Premier League with nine games played.
"These are the kind of games where you need the points, we were mature, resilient, well-organised and in the end we got the second goal which was a relief," manager Arsene Wenger said.
"I thought honestly we were unlucky to be down to 10 men and needed to be patient."
Wenger was measured in his criticism of the decision by referee Chris Foy to dismiss Arteta for a foul on Marouane Chamakh who seemed about to burst clear from deep.
"You never know but there was pressure on the referee to pull a red card out," said Wenger, whose side are unbeaten in the Premier League since the opening day of the season, winning seven of eight.
"I think it was a wrong decision because it is supposed to be a clear goal scoring opportunity and it was very far from goal and it has to be the last man, which was not proven."
After Arteta's red card Palace nearly levelled when Joel Ward's long-range effort was touched on to the bar by Szczesny who also stopped Mile Jedinak's volley with a superb save.
Wenger praised Poland international Szczseny, saying he had stepped up a level since last season.
"You see the quality of a keeper with the timing of his saves," Wenger said.
"That was two important moments of the game. He is more consistent this season, better focus and he reads the game better." (Editing by Clare Lovell)