Arsenal travelled to South London on Sunday in search of their 12th straight win. This was after a decent showing in Portugal against Sporting Lisbon in mid week, which they won 0-1.
Arsenal started the first half slowly, but calmly as they have done so often this season so far. The visitors were keeping possession well but not doing a lot with it, but two chances for Alexandre Lacazette and Hector Bellerin should have seen them take the lead. However, the Eagles were not without any chances of their own and looked dangerous on the break, with Wilfried Zaha leading the attacks, a player who has proved himself very tricky and technically gifted of late. It would be this man who would come closest to taking the lead for Palace, striking the post with a fierce shot.
It would be Palace who ultimately took the lead as Mustafi, a defender often criticised for his mistakes, recklessly went to ground and fouled Kouyate, giving Crystal Palace a penalty and Milivojevic a chance to take the lead for the hosts. The midfielder stepped up and dispatched the penalty well, sending Bernd Leno the wrong way and giving Palace the lead going into the break.
Second half Arsenal strike again
Arsenal came out of the tunnel all guns blazing as they do so often when chasing the game, and two goals in 5 minutes turned the game on its head. The first, a free just outside the box on the right corner of the box. Granit Xhaka, a man who has become a somewhat ‘chief’ of taking set pieces in recent weeks, stepped up. The Palace players, undoubtedly expecting a cross, as was everyone else in the stadium, excluding Granit Xhaka, watched as the ball roared over them and into the far top left corner, too much venom on the strike for Wayne Hennessy, who could only tip it further into the corner.
A brilliant goal, which was then overshadowed by controversy, minutes later. A corner was delivered into the Palace box, Lacazette, who was having his shirt tugged, seemed to raise his hand to appeal this. The ball drifted in and clipped the fingers of Lacazette, before bouncing off Jordan Ayew’s head and springing to the back post for Aubameyang to poke home, despite some near goal line heroics by Hennessy. The goal caused uproar from the Palace bench but Martin Atkinson took no notice and pointed to the centre circle, signalling a kick off, perhaps yet another advert for why VAR is needed so badly in this league.
The Eagles fight back
Arsenal’s second goal seemed to awake Crystal Palace, who piled Arsenal under immense pressure in search of an equaliser. Two subs from Unai Emery proved ineffective and 10 minutes before the end Zaha found himself charging at the Arsenal backline, after Lacazette had given the ball away. Zaha ran at Xhaka, flicking the ball past him and making contact with Xhaka’s knee in the process, causing him to go down in a heap. Atkinson pointed to the spot, and with his second penalty of the game, Milijovejic equalised for the hosts.
A very good game for the neutral but Arsenal fans will undoubtedly be disappointed not to have seen out the game out, and giving away goals through preventable errors. Palace showed their mettle and that they, once again this season, are no side to be underestimated. Arsenal will look ahead to Liverpool on Saturday, a huge test and a game that is sure to be a brilliant affair.