Arsenal 2-3 Crystal Palace: Gunners top-four hopes dealt blow after defensive horror show
Watch highlights as Arsenal's defence crumbles against ruthless Palace
Last Updated: 21/04/19 11:19pm
Arsenal defensive frailties came back to haunt them as Crystal Palace dented their top four hopes with a 3-2 win at The Emirates.
The Gunners had kept back-to-back clean sheets after wins at Watford and Napoli but were all over the place defensively as Christian Benteke (17), Wilfried Zaha (61) and James McArthur (69) punished some lacklustre Arsenal play.
Two of the goals came via set-pieces and Zaha's was put on a plate for him by a calamitous defensive error from Shkodran Mustafi.
Arsenal had levelled the game at 1-1 through Mesut Ozil (47) before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (77) gave hope of a comeback but it didn't materialise as Palace won away for the eighth time this season and broke through the 40 points barrier.
The result leaves Arsenal still in fourth place and means there are only three points now covering the four teams chasing Champions League qualification with four games to go.
Arsenal: Leno (6), Koscielny (6), Mustafi (3), Mavropanos (6), Jenkinson (5) Guendouzi (6), Elneny (6), Kolasinac (6), Ozil (6), Aubameyang (7), Lacazette (6)
Subs used: Iwobi (6), Maitland-Niles (7), Torreira (6)
Crystal Palace: Guaita (7), Wan-Bissaka (8),Dann (8), Kelly (9), Ward (7), Kouyate (7), McArthur (7), Milivojevic (8), Meyer (7), Zaha (8), Benteke (7)
Subs used: Ayew (N/A), Townsend (N/A)
Man of the match: Martin Kelly
Arsenal's defensive capitulation...
Scott Dann had already given Arsenal a warning about Palace's set-piece strength when his free header was somehow skewed over the crossbar from close range by Martin Kelly.
Unai Emery made seven changes from the win in Napoli with Carl Jenkinson and Mohamed Elneny handed rare starts. Palace made three changes, bringing in Max Meyer, Joel Ward and Cheick Kouyate.
Benteke didn't waste the next opportunity on 17 minutes. From a set-piece from the right, he timed his run perfectly and couldn't miss from 10 yards out as the relief on his face was clear to see on ending his goal drought one week short of a year.
Arsenal struggled to open up Palace from open play but they nearly replied from a set-piece of their own, however, Mustafi headed over at the back post.
Arsenal's remaining fixtures
Apr 24: Wolves (A), Apr 29: Leicester (A), May 4: Brighton (H), May 12: Burnley (A)
Aaron Wan-Bissaka escaped a strong handball shout inside the area before Bernd Leno made a fantastic double save before the break from Cheick Kouyate. Palace continued to threaten and Benteke blazed over from 10 yards.
Unai Emery responded by making a double change at the break, bringing on Alex Iwobi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The changes sparked Arsenal into life and Ozil snuck in down the left to level it up two minutes after the break.
With the Emirates in full voice, it looked only a matter of time before Arsenal took over but Mustafi gifted Palace a second. A Benteke flick-on was inexplicably left by the centre-back for Leno, who was fully 15 yards away. That mistake allowed Zaha to scamper through and he didn't waste the opportunity.
Eight minutes later it was three as Arsenal went to sleep from another set-piece. Dann rose highest from 12 yards and his header was turned home by McArthur - both Palace players were unmarked.
Aubameyang netted his 18th Premier League goal of the season with 13 minutes remaining to give Arsenal hope but Palace - led by Kelly and Dann - repelled their late onslaught.
Emery frustrated by defeat
Man of the match: Martin Kelly
With Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins missing, the former Liverpool man stepped up to the plate with an extraordinary defensive performance. Last-ditch blocks and huge defensive headers culminated in a whopping 11 clearances. Everything Arsenal threw at him and Dann, the pair batted away like their lives depending on it.
- Crystal Palace avoided defeat in both league meetings with Arsenal in a campaign for the first time since 1979-80.
- Arsenal suffered their first home league defeat in a London derby since January 2016 (0-1 v Chelsea) - they were unbeaten in 13 such games prior to this loss (W10 D3).
- Crystal Palace have scored 29 goals away from home in the Premier League this season; their most in a single campaign in the competition and joint-most overall in a top-flight season (also 29 in 1991-92).
- Benteke made his 200th Premier League appearance in this match against Arsenal. He scored 46 goals in his first 100 games in the competition, but has netted just 24 in his second 100 appearances.
- Benteke scored his first goal for Crystal Palace since April 2018 (vs Leicester), ending a run of 19 appearances, 25 shots and 358 days without netting.
- Zaha has scored eight away goals for Crystal Palace in the Premier League this season - only Harry Kane (11) and Jamie Vardy (10) have netted more in the competition.
Unai Emery: "It's a big frustration, it was a big opportunity but we can say we had a big opportunity in the matches before today and we took a lot of points in a lot of key moments that give us the opportunity to be now, in our way, with the possibility to achieve our targets.
"Our first target is to get to the Champions League through the Premier League or Europa League. We lost a big opportunity but it doesn't change our idea.
"It's in our hands, we can continue winning and being in the top four."
Roy Hodgson: "It was a very satisfying performance.
"If you're going to get a result here you're going to have to give a really good performance. The defending has to be top notch and you have to be certain that when you get the space your two front players do what ours did today.
"We carried that threat with the front players, the midfield four and back four were excellent."
Arsenal are back in action in midweek with a trip to Wolves on Wednesday while Palace play Everton next Saturday at 3pm.