Max Meyer

10-man Arsenal held at Crystal Palace

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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.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

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.

Palace grab VAR-assisted draw at Norwich

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Norwich City were pegged back late on by Crystal Palace to draw 1-1 as VAR once again denied the Canaries victory in the Premier League.

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Todd Cantwell gave them a deserved lead but they squandered several chances and Connor Wickham then had a goal awarded via VAR after it was initially given offside on the pitch.

With the point Norwich stay bottom of the table on 14 points and are seven points from safety, while Palace are on 28 points and remain in the hunt for Europe.


3 things we learned

1. Zaha wins superb battle with Aarons: This was a great battle between a winger and full back as Aarons got the better of Zaha in the first half but Zaha’s quality shone through late on to create the equalizer. Aarons caught Zaha with a meaty challenge in the second half and that showed that he was getting tired. Zaha got better the longer the game went on and as rumors circulate that Chelsea want to push hard to sign him in January, his recent form proves he is one of the best out-and-out wingers in the PL. If not the best. Aarons, just 19 years, will also be a man in demand at the end of this season as a price tag of $55 million has been slapped on his head. On this viewing it is easy to understand why.

2. VAR hits Norwich again: They had decisions go against them in their 2-2 draw against Tottenham and Norwich were again hit by VAR. Wickham was onside by an outstretched kneecap and the Canaries will be cursing their luck as they had ample chances to put the game to bed when they were 1-0 up. VAR correctly ruled the goal onside and it denied Norwich a big win on a day when plenty of other teams around them at the bottom secured victories.

3. Canaries cut adrift: Norwich are now seven points adrift at the bottom and Daniel Farke‘s side are starting to show that they have the lowest budget in the Premier League. They’ve now gone eight games without a win and they are so close to turning draws into victories but that extra bit of quality just isn’t there. Do they spend big in January to try and stay up? Or do they call it quits and build for another promotion push? Probably the latter as they are becoming the ultimate yo-yo team.

Man of the Match: Emiliano Buendia – Set up the first goal, made Norwich tick and although he faded a little, he has real quality on the ball. He will be in the PL next season, but maybe not with Norwich.


Norwich got off to a perfect start as Emiliano Buendia and Cantwell combined and after the former had a shock blocked, the ball fell to the latter who finished to send Carrow Road wild.

Pukki then had a goal correctly chalked off for being offside as the Canaries were slick in attack and causing Crystal Palace’s banged up defense plenty of problems with their movement.

The Eagles played their way into the game with Wilfried Zaha their main target but he was involved in a tough battle with young Norwich right back Max Aarons.

Palace had a huge chance to equalize just before half time as Jairo Riedewald was played in but decided to pass instead of having a shot and James McArthur‘s shot was superbly blocked with Tim Krul out of his goal.

Zaha was a growing influence in the game but Norwich almost doubled their lead but James Tomkins defended Pukki well and Aarons then pulled a shot wide.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Palace dominated the play as Norwich sat back and tried to manage the game.

Vicente Guaita saved superbly from Buendia’s free kick ahead of a tense final 30 minutes in Norfolk. Max Meyer turned well but his low shot lacked the power to concern Tim Krul.

Alex Tettey‘s shot was deflected wide and Mario Vrancic couldn’t convert at the near post as the game turned into an end-to-end encounter, as Jordan Ayew‘s cross somehow evaded everyone as Palace pushed hard for a late equalizer.

Norwich hit the crossbar through Kenny McLean as they poured forward but at the other end Luka Milivojevic‘s free kick was flicked on by a Norwich defender and somehow missed every single Palace player as it went out for a corner.

Zaha flashed a few wild efforts off target and he then got the better of Aarons and whipped in a superb cross which substitute Wickham tapped home but the offside flag went up.

However, VAR was used and after a lengthy delay the goal was awarded as Wickham was kept onside by a Norwich kneecap as the former Ipswich Town striker scored against their fierce rivals to make it 1-1.

VIDEO: Offside VAR calls lead to Premier League statement

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VAR took center stage on Saturday in the Premier League, as three very similar calls saw three goals chalked off.

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The incidents all came in separate games, as Dan Burn and Teemu Pukki had goals disallowed and Wilfried Zaha’s cross led to Max Meyer’s goal which was ruled out as all three players had half a shoulder, at most, offside.

Needless to say, plenty of fans are in uproar about the decisions, as long delays led to VAR officials disallowing goals as “armpit offside” has now been replaced by “shoulder offside” in the VAR drinking game, PL style.

Below the video of Pukki’s incident is broken down by our crew as the Premier League released a statement on the decision, while there are also still images of Crystal Palace’s disallowed goal and Burn’s goal being chalked off to show just how tight all three goals were.

“After consulting the VAR, Kevin Friend has overturned the goal because Teemu Pukki was offside in the build-up,” the Premier League said in a statement.

Fans and pundits are calling for VAR to stop being used on tight offside goal decisions, but if the technology is there, why wouldn’t we use it?

There is a legitimate argument to be made that the offside rule needs tweaking by IFAB to allow a clear distance between attacking and defending players, but many point to VAR getting it correct as any body part which can score a goal being offside is crystal clear.

We haven’t heard the end of this debate and it will rumble on for many months, if not years, as leading officials have suggested that it will take up to three years for VAR to work correctly and smoothly in the Premier League.

Between now and then, incidents like the ones below will be debated across the globe?

Southampton held by Crystal Palace

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Southampton and Crystal Palace drew 1-1 at St Mary’s on Saturday in an even, tight battle on the South Coast.

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James Tomkins gave Palace the lead at the start of the second half but Danny Ings equalized late on as the Eagles held on to grab a point against the surging Saints.

With the point Southampton have 22 for the season, while Palace have 27 points.


3 things we learned

1. Peak away day Palace: This was a vintage away day display from Palace, who scored from a set piece, looked dangerous on the counter and solid in defense. Until Martin Kelly’s poor back pass they didn’t look likely to concede and in the end they held on for a point. Palace’s away form has always ben superb and that was no different at St Mary’s.

2. VAR debate rumbles on: Wilfried Zaha and Palace were livid at a goal being disallowed in the first half as his armpit was offside as he crosses for Max Meyer to slot home. There have been so many marginal offside calls in the PL over the festive period and although the debate over whether the offside rule should be tweaked rumbles on, you can’t argue with the technology proving players are offside.

3. Ings leads Saints’ charge: He now has 11 goals in his last 13 appearances and 12 for the season, as only Jamie Vardy has more Premier League goals than Ings this season. Rested against Chelsea on Boxing Day, he came back into the team and went close on several occasions before slotting home to grab a point for his hometown club. Ings is on fire and he is the difference between Saints staying up or going down this season.

Man of the Match: Vicente Guaita – Palace’s goalkeeper made a string of saves in the second half to deny Saints and grab a point for his side.


VAR chalked off a goal for Palace early on as Zaha dazzled down the left and crossed for Max Meyer to finish but the replays showed that Zaha’s armpit was offside and the goal didn’t stand.

Southampton grew into the game as James Tomkins cleared brilliantly with Che Adams lurking, then Jan Bednarek couldn’t convert at the back post.

Jordan Ayew had a half chance which Alex McCarthy saved easily, as the visitors continued to look dangerous on the break.

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At the start of the second half Palace took the lead as Luka Milivojevic‘s free kick was on the money and Tomkins sent home a header off the bar and in.

Southampton had plenty of the ball in the second half but struggled to break Palace down as Cedric‘s header was close but then Martin Kelly gave Saints a gift. His back pass was latched onto by Ings who slotted home to make it 1-1, as Southampton’s first shot on target was successful.

Substitute Moussa Djenepo then went on a mazy run into the box which ended in him curling a shot on goal but it was too close to Vicente Guaita who tipped it over.

Ings then flicked a header on goal at the near post which Guaita saved and he flicked another over as Saints laid siege to the Palace goal late on.

Guaita then saved James Ward-Prowse‘s free kick and Milivojevic then slid in to deny Ings late on as the points were shared.

Ayew wondergoal completes Palace comeback v. West Ham

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Jordan Ayew‘s solo wondergoal won all three points for Crystal Palace in a 2-1 defeat of West Ham United at Selhurst Park on Thursday.

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Robert Snodgrass had put the Irons in front, but former West Ham man Cheikhou Kouyate equalized as all the goals came after halftime.

Palace moves 11th with 24 points, while West Ham slips 17th with 19 points.


Three things we learned

1. Ayew delivers a beautiful winner: The Palace forward joined Wilfried Zaha in being a proper threat, but his winner was all about him. The 28-year-old Ghanian cut toward the 18 and moved free with a spinning turn before using a delightful chip to leave Roberto pawing at air.

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2. Pellegrini’s inconsistent Irons put him at risk: Michail Antonio was strong and Sebastien Haller had moments atop the attack, but the Irons attack only managed a pair of shots on target. Felipe Anderson and Manuel Lanzini came off the bench to decent effect, but certainly are nowhere near their top form. Irons boss Manuel Pellegrini must be at wits’ end.

3. Quality, not industry, denies West Ham: The Irons won more challenges — 28-14 in the air — and had more tackles, interceptions, and clearances. Some of those are down to Palace’s time with the ball, but it’s worth noting that for as poor as the Irons have been, they have not quit on Pellegrini.

Man of the Match: Ayew was phenomenal. He was everywhere, involved in 22 duels while completing 8 of 9 dribbles and making three key passes. The goal was the moment, of course, but it was the richly-deserved reward for a day worth of work.


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Wilfried Zaha’s marvelous dribble down the left was deserving of an opening assist, but Palace’s right side didn’t run through the six to meet his pass.

Max Meyer found the loose ball and slid an invitation back through the box, but Jordan Ayew’s sliding effort went wide of the goal.

Ayew bossed Cresswell into a turnover but couldn’t rip a shot past Roberto.

The Irons went in front when Antonio created space and slipped through Snodgrass, who had the better of Patrick Van Aanholt and swerved home.

Van Aanholt nearly made amends but dragged his effort wide of the far post.

Kouyate equalized against his former club and declined celebration as the Selhurst Park faithful did plenty in his stead. Ayew popped a James McArthur cross onto the path of Kouyate for an unmarked finish.

Roberto denied Connor Wickham on a long solo run toward goal, a heavy touch defying the sub a wonderful moment.

Jaro Riedewald slid to deny Snodgrass’ 87th minute bid for a winner.

Ayew won it late with a classy maneuver into the 18 to dink over a fooled Roberto.