10-man Arsenal had to settle on for a point at Crystal Palace on Saturday as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put them in front but was sent off via VAR as Jordan Ayew‘s second half effort grabbed a 1-1 draw for the hosts at Selhurst Park.
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Aubameyang’s opener capped off a dominant first half from Mikel Arteta‘s Gunners but Palace improved after the break as Roy Hodgson‘s side battled hard and Ayew’s equalizer was deserved.
With the point Palace remain one point and one place ahead of Arsenal in ninth in the Premier League table.
3 things we learned
1. Arteta has front four purring: Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang and Ozil were on the same wavelength throughout as three of the four combined to set up Arsenal’s opening goal. From clever flicks to runs which were found by one another, Arteta seems to have found a way to get Arsenal’s top four attacking talents in the team at the same time. Even if their recent defensive improvement doesn’t last, if their front four continue to shine they will pick up plenty of points.
2. Zaha non-existent: Ainsley Maitland-Niles did a job on Zaha as the Palace winger decided to keep passing backwards instead of taking on the Arsenal defense. Maitland-Niles didn’t dive in and matched Zaha yard for yard out wide as he passed a big test in his development as a right back. Zaha, who is being linked heavily with a move to Chelsea this month, looked like his mind was elsewhere on Saturday.
3. VAR gets sending off correct, swings game in Palace’s favor: Aubameyang caught Max Meyer with a nasty tackle above his ankle and Arsenal’s captain was initially booked but VAR was used to upgrade the punishment to a red card. As the incident was shown on the big screen at Selhurst Park after the decision had been confirmed, the boos and winces from the crowd said it all. Aubameyang caught him high and the reason given for issuing a red card was the “intensity and point of contact” of the challenge. Aubameyang, Arsenal’s top goalscorer, will now be out for three games unless the Gunners appeal successfully. Had they not had Aubameyang sent off, Arsenal would probably have found a way to win this game but instead they grabbed a gritty point away from home.
Man of the Match: Either of Arsenal full backs, Maitland-Niles or Kolasinac, deserved this but I’m going with Maitland-Niles. He’s not a natural right back but he kept Palace’s most dangerous, and coveted, player quiet with Zaha hardly having a kick all game long. Superb individual defending.
Arsenal put Palace under pressure from the first whistle and that paid off.
Aubameyang finished after a flowing 18-pass move to give the Gunners the lead inside the first 15 minutes as Arteta celebrated on the sidelines.
The Gunners continued to impress in the first half as Pepe, Ozil, Lacazette and Aubameyang stretched Palace’s defense with their movement and clever interplay. David Luiz was also a key figure in their dominance as his distribution out of the back consistently set up attacks.
Cheikhou Kouyate had a shot straight at Bernd Leno which the Arsenal goalkeeper collected at the second attempt as Palace finally got a foothold in the game.
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At half time Matteo Guendouzi replaced Lucas Torreira in Arsenal’s midfield and in the second half Palace wrestled back some control on the game.
Ayew made the most of their pressure as his shot deflected off Luiz after hesitant defending, and set up a thrilling last 30 minutes.
Pepe’s brilliant corner was flicked just over by Luiz as Arsenal pushed hard for an equalizer late on.
Arsenal were reduced to 10 men for the final 20 minutes as VAR intervened and upgraded Aubameyang’s initial yellow card to a red as the Arsenal skipper caught Max Meyer high above his ankle.
Sokratis somehow cleared off the line as Palace threw everything at the 10 men of Arsenal late on, but the Gunners almost nicked all three points as Pepe’s shot was superbly tipped onto the post by Vicente Guaita then Palace’s goalkeeper bravely saved Lacazette’s follow up.