Arsenal 2-3 Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace capitalised on some sloppy defending from Arsenal to punish the Gunners with a stunning 3-2 victory at the Emirates in a thrilling Premier League clash on Sunday.
Palace stunned the hosts as they stormed into the lead through a strike from Christian Benteke 17 minutes into the game with his first goal in his last 20 Premier League appearances. Arsenal defended a set-piece poorly and allowed Benteke to head home with ease.
Arsenal made their intentions clear with a double substitution at half time, and the Gunners forced the issue early after the interval as Mesut Ozil fired home from close range after latching onto a through ball into the box from substitute Alex Iwobi.
The hosts looked to press on in search of another after drawing level, but it was Palace who provided the response as Wilfried Zaha punished a mistake from Shkodran Mustafi, forcing his way past the dithering defender before firing the ball past Bernd Leno to restore Palace’s lead.
Roy Hodgson’s side punished the Gunners on a set-piece once more as James McArthur flicked home a header from a corner following another scramble at the back from the home side. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang provided a glimmer of hope with 15 minutes remaining, firing home following some good build-up play from the Gunners, but Palace held on to claim all three points.
Key Talking Point
Just three days on from an intense evening in Naples and with suspensions and injuries having kicked in, Unai Emery was always going to be forced into a significant rotation of his side on Sunday, and that made things difficult for the Gunners.
With Sokratis Papastathopoulos suspended, Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey injured and Lucas Torreira only fit enough for the bench, Emery made seven changes to the side which won 1-0 against Napoli in midweek, with their replacements in the side not up to scratch.
Konstantinos Mavropanos and Matteo Guendouzi are fine young talents but still have a long way to go in establishing themselves as Premier League stars, as was seen against Palace, whilst Mohamed Elneny and Carl Jenkinson simply do not meet the required standards for Arsenal.
The Gunners upped the tempo in the second half, largely owing to Emery’s substitutions and change of shape after the interval, but Arsenal remained vulnerable at the back and were punished for some sloppy defending.
Starting XI: Leno (6); Mustafi (4), Koscielny (6), Mavropanos (5); Jenkinson (4), Guendouzi (6), Elneny (5), Kolasinac (5); Ozil (6); Lacazette (6), Aubameyang (6)
Substitutes: Iwobi (6), Maitland-Niles (6), Torreira (5)
STAR MAN – In what was far from a vintage display from Arsenal, Alexandre Lacazette was the player who appeared most likely to make an impact for the home side, though the Frenchman was not helped by a lack of quality service from his teammates. Lacazette showed his desire and commitment once more by chasing back into his own half at times to find the ball, though he was unable to have the desired impact.
Key Talking Point
With Crystal Palace not under the threat of relegation and essentially playing their season to a close with little on the agenda, their game plan at the Emirates seemed very clear.
The Eagles were always going to fancy their chances of overpowering an Arsenal side which were without the suspended Papastathopoulos and the injured Xhaka on set-pieces, and that certainly proved to be the case.
Benteke headed the opener with a level of ease which Emery would have loathed to see, and Roy Hodgson’s side continued to hit Arsenal every time they dropped their withered guard as the Eagles left the Emirates stunned.
Starting XI: Guaita (5); Wan-Bissaka (7), Kelly (5), Dann (6), Ward (6); McArthur (7), Milivojevic (7), Kouyate (7), Meyer (6); Benteke (6), Zaha (7)
Substitutes: Ayew (5), Townsend (5)
STAR MAN – Crystal Palace made life extremely difficult for a struggling Arsenal side on Sunday, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka turned in yet another strong performance for the Eagles at the Emirates. The Gunners typically boast a strong attacking threat through the likes of Aubameyang, Iwobi and Sead Kolasinac down the left flank, but Wan-Bissaka utilised his power and energy to strong effect in containing the home side.
Arsenal face a tough trip to Molineux to take on Wolves in the Premier League on Wednesday before travelling to the King Power Stadium to face Leicester next Sunday.
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace will look to build on their victory when they host Everton at Selhurst Park next Saturday.