Match Report: Arsenal 2 – 3 Crystal Palace

Arsenal (0) 2 Crystal Palace (1) 3
Premier League
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Sunday, 21st April 2019. Kick-off time:
(4-2-3-1) Leno; Mustafi, Koscielny, Mavropanos, Jenkinson; Guendouzi, Elneny; Kolašinac, Özil, Lacazette; Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Čech, Mkhitaryan, Torreira, Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, Monreal, Nketiah.
Scorers: Özil, Aubameyang
Yellow Card: Mustafi, Mavropanos, Guendouzi, Özil
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Attendance: 59,929
And so the topsy-turvy world of Arsenal, 2019 model, continues in earnest. How can it be? On paper it all seemed so easy, a formality, some would say. Unfortunately nobody told Crystal Palace the script here at The Emirates this afternoon, as one would think that their performance would be the team that was knocking on the door of a Champions League place, not Arsenal.
As soon as the team-sheet was announced we should have smelt a rat. Of course, Mr. Emery needs to rotate his squad, but truthfully, some of these players are born reserves, not rotated first-team footballers. The gaps and the issues were plain to see almost immediately from the kick-off. If anything, it seemed amazing that the visitors took as long as they did to take the lead, as sixteen minutes to break through this poor defence must have felt that it insulted their intelligence. Luka Milivojevic glided a simple ball into the Arsenal penalty ara, and with Shkodran Mustafi seemingly in a dream-like state, simply did not see Christian Benteke move in to score a relatively simple goal past Bernd Leno. To be fair, we did wake up and attempt to redress the balance during the rest of the first half, but all of our attempts on the Palace goal came to nothing. The closest we came to scoring during this period was when Sead Kolašinac’s cross found Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s arm; despite appeals, the referee completely refused to award the penalty to the home side.
Realising his earlier starting line-up error, Mr. Emery made a double substitution at half time, Alex Iwobi for Konstantinos Mavropanos and Ainsley Maitland-Niles for the hapless Carl Jenkinson, and just minutes after the restart, Mesut Özil redressed the balance with a sublime goal that saw him finish the move that he started. Mesut Özil passed to Alex Iwobi, who then slotted it to Alexandre Lacazette; looking up, he sent the ball back to Mesut Özil who equalised the scores with some aplomb. And then we fell apart again, with Wilfried Zaha scoring on the hour after leaving Shkodran Mustafi wondering where he came from. Sadly, less than eight minutes later, James McArthur deflected a Scott Dann header past Bernd Leno to make it three goals to one for the away team. Although Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a superb individual goal thirteen minutes from time, Arsenal’s race was already run.
The final scoreline flattered Arsenal; the defence was nothing short of amateurish calamity throughout the match, and this less-than inspirational performance appeared to permeate throughout the side like a tropical disease. The tragedy of all this mayhem was that not only did Tottenham Hotspur lose yesterday, but Manchester United were defeated heavily earlier in the day before we even kicked a ball in anger, which meant that we lost the opportunity to spring to third position in the table. In fact, if Chelsea beat Burnley tomorrow, they will take third place position which, by rights, should have been ours tonight. If anything, the performance of some of our players this afternoon should send a clear message to Mr. Emery just who is good enough to wear the red-and-white shirt next year and who isn’t. The facts are blatantly obvious; nothing more than a victory at Molineux on Wednesday, and the King Power Stadium next Monday will do, otherwise there could be a real danger that we may not even finish in the coveted four Champions League places. It also needs to be said that whilst we realise more than ever that nothing is definite in football, our urgency to win the Europa League must also be nothing short of imperative right now. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. 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.

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