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Aug 16, 2014

Wenger glad to overcome 'difficult' test

Arsenal head to Besiktas for their Champions League playoff in Tuesday on the back of a positive result after snatching a 2-1 win at home to Crystal Palace.

- Macintosh: Arsenal's resolution secures victory
- Mangan: Rust apparent in Arsenal victory

But it was a laboured performance from Arsene Wenger's men and they can count themselves lucky to get their Premier League campaign off to the perfect start.

"Because of the physicality and organisation level of Crystal Palace, it was very difficult for us,'' said manager Wenger, who handed a Premier League debut to 30 million-pound  summer signing Alexis Sanchez.

"We lacked a bit of pace in the final third to change what we built up into dangerous situations, but it was enough to win the game and win the three points, so now let's focus on Besiktas.''

Arsenal have yet to bring back World Cup winning trio Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski, who should all be involved ahead of the trip to Everton next weekend.

Wenger added: "I believe that our attitude was right, on our fluency we can do better, but that will come. Let's first get everybody physically ready.

"Credit to Palace, they fought hard. They were physically strong and well organised. We still lack a little bit a change of pace, but they gave us big problems in defence. [But] we keep going, that's one of our strengths, and it paid off today.''

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Matchwinner Aaron Ramsey admitted managerless Palace proved a tough nut to crack. Palace were still reeling from the shock departure of boss Tony Pulis, who left the job on Thursday night following reported disagreements with co-chairman Steve Parish over the club's transfer policy.T

he Wales international said the Gunners had struggled to get to grips with resilient opponents.

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

Ramsey now wants the Gunners to build on the opening win and deliver on the promise they showed last season, during which they led the Premier League table for a time before falling back after costly defeats to their main title rivals.

He said: "You saw last season we picked up a number of points against the teams outside the top four. Our main target this year is to improve our away form against the bigger teams.

"That's what let us down last season. If we had picked up a few points against the top four teams last season we would maybe have been champions. But that's the biggest thing we need to improve on.''

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