MATCH REPORT: Arsenal 2 – 2 Crystal Palace

Arsenal (1) 2 Crystal Palace (0) 2

Premier League

Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU

Monday, 18th October 2021. Kick-off time: 8.00pm

(4-2-3-1) Aaron Ramsdale; Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhães, Kieran Tierney; Thomas Partey, Martin Ødegaard; Nicolas Pépé, Emile Smith-Rowe, Bukayo Saka; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Substitutes: Bernd Leno, Alexandre Lacazette, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Cédric Soares, Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Mohamed Elneny, Gabriel Martinelli.

Scorers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (8 mins), AlexandreLacazette (90+5)

Yellow Cards: Bukayo Saka

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 55%

Referee: Mike Dean

Assistant Referees: Eddie Smart, Mark Scholes

Fourth Official: Simon Hooper

VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Peter Bankes; AVAR Neil Davies

Attendance: 59,475

Great to see the players back after international duty, and no doubt the coaching staff will have spent the last few days assessing them and finding out if there are any injuries and concerns, major or minor; however, we do know that Gabriel Martinelli is a doubtful starter for tonight’s match with a minor muscle injury, whilst Granit Xhaka is a long-term absentee with knee ligament damage sustained in the North London derby back on 26th September. No doubt that our old club captain Patrick Vieira, who played 279 matches for Arsenal (and manager of Crystal Palace tonight) will surely receive a fabulous reception from the Emirates crowd, and rightly so as well; oh, how a player of his calibre is much needed in our team these days!

After the superb Emirates welcome for the legendary Patrick Vieira just before kick-off, the match started with Arsenal looking sharp and dominating proceedings. The visitors seemed to stand off us in the midfield areas, and after eight minutes, we scored the opening goal of the night when Martin Ødegaard’s overstruck corner flew over everyone, but we managed to keep possession somehow, then Nicolas Pépé’s brilliant strike was pushed away by goalkeeper Vicente Guaita, but thankfully Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reacted quickly, and volleyed the ball into the net from an extremely tight angle. Inevitably, the goal fired us up to take control of the game, which we were well-equipped to do. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fell to the floor with an injury shortly afterwards, when he was clipped by a Palace defender in an off-the-ball incident, but after receiving some treatment he was able to continue playing. The visitors looked quite shaky, and we started to be comfortable both on and off the ball, and when Emile Smith-Rowe’s excellent low drive was nervously saved by the Palace goalkeeper, there was a confident air of expectation in the stadium. Although the visitors did finally have two shots on goal in rapid succession from Christian Benteke and Luka Milivojevic just before the half-hour mark, neither amounted to anything, and as the match started to settle down and plateau somewhat, we never truly felt threatened by the transpontine club at this juncture in the game. Ten minutes before the break, our defence was outfoxed by a clever move by Tyrick Mitchell out on the left flank, only for Odsonne Édouard to blast the ball over Aaron Ramsdale’s bar from ten yards or so. With a few minutes of the half remaining, Jordan Ayew was clipped by Bukayo Saka and referee Mike Dean immediately showed our man the game’s first yellow card, which was truly ridiculous. In injusry time, we looked like we started to let the visitors back into the match with one or two chances that were saved by Aaron Ramsdale, but thankfully Mike Dean blew his whistle to keep the score in our favour at half time.

For the second half, Albert Sambi Lokonga replaced the injured Bukayo Saka, which, after watching him limp off the pitch at the end of the first half after James McArthur’s hard tackle on him, was not really surprising; a precautionary substitution by Mikel Arteta, no doubt. Anyway, we were unlucky not to score just after the restart, when a superb Thomas Partey shot flew just past the Palace goalie’s upright; a couple of minutes later, disaster struck when Thomas Partey was caught in possession by Jordan Ayew just outside our penalty area, and the ball rolled onwards to Christian Benteke, who advanced, moved into space and placed a superb strike into the bottom corner past the outstretched arm of Aaron Ramsdale. Oh dear. Their goal appeared to inject some life into the match, with both sets of strikers showing urgency in front of goal. Aaron Ramsdale made a fabulous fingertip save from Jordan Ayew ten minutes after the restart, and incredibly, this led to a period of Palace resurgency, with Arsenal struggling to maintain possession. Our build-up play from the back was looking good, with Kieran Tierney and Takehiro Tomiyasu working extremely hard to feed the ball to the midfield gang, but the Palace players seemed to read our intentions and intercept our movements. With twenty-four minutes of the match remaining, Alexandre Lacazette replaced a tiring (and almost anonymous) Martin Ødegaard, and almost immeditely the shape of the team changed for the better. After a near miss by Alexandre Lacazette, the unthinkable happened. The visitors pressed us, and a basic mistake in midfield occurred when Albert Sambi Lokonga was robbed of the ball by Conor Gallagher, which meant that they counter-attacked swiftly. Conor Gallagher then found Michael Olise, who passed the ball to Odsonne Edouard, who subsequently thumped the ball into the back of the net off the underside of the bar. A couple of minutes later, Alexandre Lacazette was fouled just outside the visitor’s penalty area, but the subsequent free-kick from Nicolas Pépé was very poor. With ten minutes of the match remaining, Gabriel Martinelli replaced Thomas Partey, and his presence fired us up again. Kieran Tierney was desperately unlucky when he hit the bar from close range with four minutes of the match left; Nicolas Pépé had a penalty appeal denied, and it seemed the more we tried, the less likely were were to score. However, in the four minutes of injury time, more drama occurred, when our relentless recent pressure finally paid off. At literally, the end of the match, a corner was half cleared, but the ball was sent back into the penalty area. The visitors couldn’t clear, the ball was flying around like a pinball, goalkeeper Vicente Guaita knocked away a shot but Alexandre Lacazette was there to slam in the rebound from close range. A draw, and thank heavens for that.

The good things that arose from this match tonight, is that we have extended our unbeaten run to six matches, with our last defeat being the game against Manchester City on 28th August; we are still the youngest side in the Premiership and our players have a long way to go. But the flip side of this was, basically, one nil up, two-one down, very quickly in fact. We took the lead, looked strong, then went marshmallow very quickly. We got caught on the break too many times, and it was sheer perseverance and good old fashioned guts and hard work that got us the draw, and thank heavens that we did, too. The late, late show may well be good entertainment for the neutrals, but for the rest of us, it is truly agonising. We have got to learn to be horribly mean in defence, and utterly ruthless in attack, otherwise all of our hard work will be in vain. Although it was two points dropped, at least we got a point after some decidedly iffy moments, and tonight we are twelfth in the Premiership, which is ridiculous for a club of our stature. How will it change? And more to the point, when? And where does the problem really lie, with the players, or the system decreed by the manager? 

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Aston Villa at the Emirates on Friday, 22nd October at 8.00pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

Caring about the environment and match going fans is just a marketing tool for TV Companies

The cleanest long distance transport are trains.

So you would think that with Sky’s moral compass of “Sky Ocean” and “Sky Zero”, they would ensure every game they show on TV would be scheduled so away fans would not have to drive hundreds of miles.

Considering the outbursts by Gary Neville et al following the European Super League announcement – when Sky Sports anointed themselves as the fans protector of the game – you would think they would put match going fans first.

And considering their commentators have mentioned countless times since crowds returned to football stadiums that match going fans make a huge difference, you think they would ensure games are on at reasonable times.

But we all know Sky TV – and whoever the other TV companies are that have shared the rights over the decades – do not care about match going fans.

And this has been shown once more with the scheduling of Arsenal’s games this season.

One advantage of not playing in Europe (I hoped) was more 3pm Saturday away trips. This follows hardly any in the last 10 years.

And then Sky do what they do best and ruin it for everyone.

5 away games. And only a slim chance of one having a train home.

The Leeds United is that slim chance – the last train leaves Leeds station at 20:16. That will give fans 45 minutes to make the 40 minute walk into Leeds town centre to catch it.

It’s just bollocks.

I’m feed up with it all.

Next time a Pundit talks about the environment or how they are the custodians of the game, I hope everyone reminds them of what their employers choose to do.

Fuck Sky.


Another weekend without football…

Morning all.

Football returns this weekend following the 2nd international break of the season. The 3rd international break is in about 4 weeks time. I am getting to the point where I would not care if they scrapped itnernational football completely.

So whilst football returns, Arsenal do not actually play until Monday.

We face Crystal Palace at home on monday night; the worst kick off time of them all.

I have never liked the Monday night kick off time. No match going fan enjoys it – whether you are home or away.

If you are at home, which we are lucky enough to be, it means strolling into work onthe tuesday with a hangover (que all the drips who say “just do not drink”) and little sleep. You then have 4 days to get through as your body tries to catch up.

If you are away it is even worse as it can often mean two days off work.

Two days off work for a Monday night game to Liverpool or Hull City for a football game. Usually with no trains home after the game.

Let’s remember the TV companies showed their disgust when the Super League was announced.

Gary Neville et al tried to position themselves as the voice of the fans. Yet they remain silent when it comes to awful kick off times with no trains home. they are hypocrites.

We then play again Friday night; and again that shows how hypocritical those TV companies were over the Super League.

Luckily we are at home, but why on earth have we been scheduled to play on a Monday and a Friday?

Taking away that it does not make for fair competition between teams; it is also not fair for fans.

Fella that sits near me in the ground relocated to Dorset 5 years ago. A sort of semi-retirement. He travels up for every game by train. Into Waterloo then onto Arsenal.

Back to back Monday and Friday games means he can not go to either. Or if he chooses too he will have to spend hundreds on a London hotel and travel home the day after.

One Monday or Friday game on occasion can be “coped with”. But two in the same week? It just shows that TV companies do not care about match going fans. But we already knew that didn’t we.

Yesterday it was announced that their would be a documentary film on Arsene Wenger and his Invincible side hitting the ciniemas on 11th November.

I was suprised by how bitter some people were over this.

The Invincible side was not just a huge part of Arsenal’s history, but a huge part of footballing history. Sir Alex Ferguson, when interviewed for the film, said “the achievement stands above everything else.”

Yet there is a small section of Arsenal fans still hugn up on how it ended with Wenger and seem to refuse to let themselves enjoy the Invincible achievement – or the Double Double.

These sort of fans really are bitter. It probably eats them up from the inside on a daily basis.

In football you take the good days with the bad. The highs and the lows.

Luckily for Arsenal fans there have been more highs throughout the last 35 years than lows. Under George Graham, then Arsene Wenger.

I am always shocked when people say “going invincible was the worst thign that happened to Arsenal”.

imagine hating the greatest achievement in our clubs – nay English football – history because of the way it ended.

I imagine these people that moan are probably still strung up on their misses that left them after 20 years. Only remembering the last 5 years when it was a bit shit rather than the 15 years of great times before that. Still blaming her for everything that is currently wrong in their lives.

Anyway, enjoy a football free weekend and we will see you in Islington on Monday.