Block G Report: Crystal Palace 0 – 2 Arsenal

By - Saturday 26th October, 2013

Palace get the performance they needed, but not the result they deserved

Fingertips. That was the difference between Palace equalising against Arsenal today and Speroni not quite reaching Kasami’s volley for Fulham last Monday. Had that not occurred and had Palace held on for victory, then Ian Holloway may have led the team out again today.

With Holloway ending his stint as manager on Wednesday, up stepped former Selsdon Primary schoolboy Keith Millen to prepare the dispirited Eagles against the league leaders. Arsenal, on their part, came into the game off the back of a defeat at home to Borussia Dortmund in midweek, and a lack of confidence was evident from the north Londoners throughout the keenly fought contest.

Nevertheless, it was Arsenal who started the brighter as expected; Palace barely having a touch during the first fifteen minutes. However, good organisation and growing confidence brought the home side into the game, and they had a couple of long range shots from Marouane Chamakh and Adlene Guedioura. In fact, there were a flurry of chances for both sides throughout an entertaining first half; Arsenal having a shout for a penalty as a low cross collided into Damien Delaney’s midriff, whilst Delaney was involved in another penalty incident, unfairly tackling Serge Gnabry on the very edge of the box. However, both sides went in goalless at the break, with the loud Palace support hopeful that the home side could avoid their recent tendency to let in an early second half goal and push on for points.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Guedioura, despite giving Palace the toughness in midfield which had been lacking in recent team performances, slid in on Gnabry a minute after the second half kicked off. Mikel Arteta stepped up to place the ball out of goalkeeper Julian Speroni’s reach, despite the Argentinian diving the right way.

As the volume levels rose in the crowd and the Palace players gained more and more possession, it seemed a goal was inevitable

However, there was a significant difference in the Crystal Palace reaction to this than the early second half goal conceded against Fulham. Palace maintained their composure and fight, and became more and more threatening as the game went on. This was aided further as Chamakh was brought down by goalscorer Arteta, with the Spaniard joining the long list of players sent off under manager Arsene Wenger. Palace couldn’t capitalise on the resulting free-kick, but  a point was well within their grasp. This was underlined in a frantic five minutes.

First, Joel Ward saw a fine link up on the right with Kagisho Dikgacoi result in a shot tipped on to the crossbar by Gunners goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. Moments later, the Pole pulled off another excellent save, brushing a vicious volley from Mile Jedinak over the bar. Two fine efforts, but no luck.

Arsenal were now under the cosh. As the volume levels rose in the crowd and the Palace players gained more and more possession, it seemed a goal was inevitable – and would have been deserved. Palace didn’t get the breaks though, despite Chamakh having a couple of half-chances, and substitutes Yannick Bolasie and Dwight Gayle piling further pressure on the league leaders. Yet league leaders, and league winners tend to be defined by how they perform under pressure. After a sloppy pass from Jedinak, Arsenal broke away in the 87th minute, with the otherwise hapless Olivier Giroud nodding the eventual cross home to seal the points.

Regardless, Palace can be pleased with a far more determined, gritty performance than has been evident in recent weeks. On the evidence of this, it might not be a foregone conclusion that the Eagles will be making a swift return to the Championship. Whoever the new manager is will have been encouraged by this performance; nobody was expecting a result of any kind for Palace and the fact that they arguably deserved a point or three will give great cause for optimism. The Eagles certainly deserved their standing ovation at the end.

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Delaney, Gabbidon, Moxey; Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Guedioura (Kebe 72′); Bannan (Gayle 77′), Thomas (Bolasie 58′), Chamakh.

Arsenal: Szczesny; Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Flamini (Gnabry 8′ (Wilshere 69′)), Ramsey, Arteta; Ozil, Cazorla (Monreal 72′), Giroud.

 Goals: Crystal Palace 0 Arsenal 2 (Arteta 47′ (Pen), Giroud 87′).

Sent Off: Arteta (65′)

Attendance: 25,050

Referee: C. Foy

Tom Lickley

Tom Lickley

Contributing a variety of roles to the Citizen since early 2013, Tom now focuses upon regeneration, urbanism and real estate writing. He is a strategic communications consultant specialising in the real estate sector, and counts a number of the world's largest investment and fund management companies amongst his clients.

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