Wayne Hennessey

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Crystal Palace comes back for point in drama-filled Arsenal draw

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Sokratis Papastathopoulos scored early but saw his late winner pulled back by a controversial VAR decision as Arsenal threw away a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium.

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David Luiz also scored for Arsenal, whose defense was a strength in attack and a weakness at the back in providing a 2-0 lead and allowing it to disappear.

Luka Milivojevic and Jordan Ayew scored for Palace, the latter a star in the draw.

Arsenal sits fifth with 16 points, one more than sixth place Palace.


Three things we learned

1. If at first you can’t defend… Arsenal’s oft-criticized center backs took the goals into their own hands, and if you’re up 2-0 within nine minutes it’s gonna be hard to be the goat. Sokratis’ goal came with calm after Granit Xhaka knocked down a clearance off a corner, and he was back post when David Luiz poked home a Lacazette-flicked cross to make it 2-0.

2. …You’re still going to have to defend, though: Arsenal’s backs helped give the lead away within 40 minutes, with Chambers cutting down Zaha — or at least daring VAR to go the other direction — and Luiz losing track of Ayew. Chambers really struggled, picking up a yellow card in addition to some haphazard first half passing, as improved defense in recent weeks appeared to be a magician’s trick after multi-goal concessions to Vitoria and Palace within three days.

3. Xhaka’s Arsenal career meets flash point: Voted club captain to the consternation of many Gooners, Xhaka was booed off the field when he was subbed off at the hour mark. The Swiss enforcer motioned his arms to welcome more boos, then yelled to the crowd to expletive off, cupping his hand to his ear before ripping off his shirt and storming down the tunnel. Things are not good in North London.

4. VAR overrules Sokratis winner for… something? As of publishing time on this post, there’s no clarity as to why VAR found a clear and obvious error that Roger East missed on Sokratis’ winner. Chambers is battling for the ball with several Palace defenders, hands everywhere, as he pushed the ball to Sokratis for what would’ve been a huge winner. There’s a problem here.

Man of the Match: Ayew? Milivojevic? Sokratis? We’ll go with McArthur, who was quite good and supplied the match-drawing assist.


An early corner cause Palace problems and put Arsenal in front, with Granit Xhaka settling Gary Cahill‘s headed clearance for Sokratis Papastathopoulus to hit through traffic for 1-0.

He could’ve had two had Luiz not also been at the back post to poke home a ninth minute corner, as Arsenal had Palace at sixes and sevens.

Lacazette had an effort saved moments later, and Palace fans were right to be concerned for the score line.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Aubameyang missed a chance, too, as Arsenal really should’ve had a massive lead when Zaha won a penalty off of Calum Chambers. Palace penalty usually equals Palace goal in Milivojevic’s world, and this time was no different.

Palace leveled the score just after halftime, as James McArthur‘s cross hung in the air for days. Neither Luiz nor Leno could get there as Ayew headed home.

As poor as he was defensively, Chambers was nearly again an offensive hero before sweeping a shot wide in the 62nd.

Arsenal thought it went ahead through Papastathopoulous, but VAR found a hard-to-pinpoint foul on Chambers as he won what would’ve been a match-winning assist. Baffling.

Wayne Hennessey made a nice stop on a Lacazette header as the match headed toward its final half hour. He’d late stop Luiz in the 89th with a result-saving stop. Zaha came close to equalizing when he turned a Christian Benteke flick toward goal and burned Chambers.

Watch Live: Crystal Palace v. Man City

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Crystal Palace hosts Manchester City on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) as the reigning Premier League champs look to get back on track.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

In-form Palace will see this as a free-hit as Roy Hodgson‘s side have started the season really well.

As for Pep Guardiola and City, they will be desperate to close the eight-point gap to Liverpool atop the table, at least momentarily.

In team news Crystal Palace bring in Luka Milivojevic, Wayne Hennessey and James Tomkins.

Man City have Sergio Aguero on the bench, with Mahrez joining him and Walker and Otamendi not in the squad. Central midfielders Fernandinho and Rodri are both playing at center back.

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Julian Speroni leaving Crystal Palace after 15 years

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Goalkeeper Julian Speroni will leave Crystal Palace this summer after spending 15 years at the club, it was announced on Thursday. Speroni’s contract expires this summer and it will not be renewed.

The 39-year-old Argentine will depart Selhurst Park this summer after joining from Dundee United back in 2004. He made 402 appearances for Crystal Palace, more than any other goalkeeper in the club’s history and placing him fourth all-time at the club overall. Speroni also owns a club-record 112 clean sheets.

“Julian has devoted the best 15 years of his playing career to our club, and will go down in the record books,” said club chairman Steve Parish, “but perhaps more importantly, will be remembered as a true club legend by all Palace fans and everyone at the club. You just don’t get many people like Julian in elite football any more – he is a model professional, ultra-committed, immensely loyal, and has set impeccable standards to his team-mates down the years. His contribution to this club cannot be overstated, and we will be eternally grateful for his service.”

Speroni had made just 14 Premier League appearances over the past four seasons, including just one this year as he rode the bench serving as third string to Wayne Hennessey and Vincente Guaita. He could get a final run-out in the last game of the season as Palace hosts Bournemouth, with little on the line sitting in 12th.

The Argentine was critical in securing Crystal Palace’s Premier League status in 2013, keeping clean sheets in both legs of the playoff semifinal against Brighton & Hove Albion, plus again in the final against Watford that saw Kevin Phillips score the extra-time winner in a 1-0 victory. He remained the starter for the club’s first two top flight seasons after promotion that saw them finish 10th and 11th, still the best table finishes for the club in its Premier League history.

It is unclear what the future holds for Speroni, but the release did not mention retirement, so it’s possible he has offers for a bigger role elsewhere, with both the Premier League and Championship likely in play.

Auschwitz Memorial offers Hennessey lesson on Nazi history, salute

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Wayne Hennessey will not be charged for making what was alleged to have been a Nazi salute earlier this year after he successfully pleaded to the Football Association that he did not know what a Nazi salute was, it was announced on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Ashley Young the latest player targeted by racist abusers ]

The FA deemed it a case of “considerable ignorance” on Hennessey’s part. “Improbable as that may seem to those of us of an older generation, we do not reject that assertion as untrue,” their statement read.

“In fact, when cross-examined about this, Mr. Hennessey displayed a very considerable — one might even say lamentable — degree of ignorance about anything to do with Hitler, fascism and the Nazi regime.

“Regrettable though it may be that anyone should be unaware of so important a part of our own and world history, we do not feel we should therefore find he was not telling the truth about this.

“All we would say (at the risk of sounding patronizing) is that Mr. Hennessey would be well advised to familiarize himself with events which continue to have great significance to those who live in a free country.”

As such, the Auschwitz Memorial, the museum which preserves the site of the former German Nazi Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp, has referred the Crystal Palace goalkeeper to a 37-step an online course about Nazi propaganda and the symbols and gestures which came to represent Nazism.

The 32-year-old Welsh international explained his actions the day after the photo was posted online by teammate Max Meyer, saying, “I waved and shouted at the person taking the picture to get on with it and at the same time put my hand over my mouth to make the sound carry. It’s been brought to my attention that frozen in a moment by the camera this looks like I am making a completely inappropriate type of salute. I can assure everyone I would never ever do that and any resemblance to that kind of gesture is absolutely coincidental.”

Hennessey has played in just three games for Palace — two in the Premier League and one in the FA Cup — since the photo was taken on Jan. 5.

Watch Live: Crystal Palace v. Brighton

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Crystal Palace host Brighton & Hove Albion (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a massive rivalry clash to kick off the Premier League action this weekend.

The M23 derby is here.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Palace have won three of their last five games, with Wilfried Zaha firing on all cylinders, and Roy Hodgson‘s men can almost see light at the end of the tunnel in their battle against relegation.

Brighton are just three points and two places behind Palace, but Chris Hughton knows his team aren’t in great form and a win in this derby would be hugely important for momentum in the final months of the season.

In team news Palace bring in James McArthur and Andros Townsend for Max Meyer and Cheikhou Kouyate with Vicente Guaita replacing Wayne Hennessey in goal, while Brighton made one change as Florin Andone replaced former Palace striker Glenn Murray in the lineup… but Andone was injured in the warm up and Murray comes back in.


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