Saturday, 26 October 2013

Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal (Arteta 47' (pen), Giroud, 87')

Ian Holloway is one of football's more passionate individuals. Strange then, that the first match after his resignation saw his old Crystal Palace side deliver one of their more energetic performances of the season. Perhaps that in itself is a mark of how burnt out he had become, that his side no longer bore that hallmark.

Against Arsenal however, you need more than passion and energy. Arsene Wenger's men are masters at sitting back, lulling you into a false sense of security, then leave you dumbfound with a ten-second array of tricks and treats. Their second goal today was one of those moments. With Palace pushing forward, attempting to press home their man advantage, gaps were left, and Aaron Ramsey's beautifully weighted cross was headed home by Oliver Giroud with the force and aplomb that betrayed the feelings of a man in the form of his life, secure in the knowledge that he is currently Wenger's go-to man up front.

Keith Millen, Palace's caretaker manager, sent his side out determined to nullify an Arsenal side that saw the return of both Mathieu Flamini and Santi Cazorla, and for the first quarter of an hour, despite hardly touching the ball, he would have been satisfied that their goalkeeper was rarely in possession either.

Flamini, making his return after concussion, lasted only eight of those minutes before limping off with some sort of groin complaint. He seemed to leave his spirit on the pitch however, as Arsenal continued to dominate the midfield in those early exchanges. Serge Gnabry gave more thrust going forward, while Ramsey and Mikel Arteta sat back, blunting Palace's energetic forays forward.

Those forays did become more frequent however as the half wore on - the home side's confidence growing, with Marouane Chamakh putting himself about impressively against his former club, with a couple of decent efforts and a poorly timed free-header attempt showing Palace's growing influence in the game.

The turning point arrived right after the break. In a similar fashion to Monday night's meltdown against Fulham, a moment of madness from Adlene Guedioura to chop down Gnabry allowed Arteta to slam home a well-taken penalty, and Arsenal were well on their way to another easy three points.

Or so they perhaps thought. Chamakh again causing problems; Arteta went from hero to zero as he pulled back his ex-teammate. The red card he received was harsh, as it was by no means the clearest goalscoring opportunity you would ever see.

Buoyed by this sudden numerical advantage, Palace poured forward, and so began a phase of the match where Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny proved his class, keeping his side's nose in front. Two world-class flying saves from two thunderous right-footed shots - one from Joel Ward and the other from Mile Jedinak - were the standout attacking moments that had the stadium on their feet, and rightly so.

Palace were giving it everything, but after that you sensed that they had peaked. Arsenal had ridden out the storm - Giroud's header sealing the three points - and Wenger was content to see his side move five clear at the top of the table. After years of struggling to even reach the top four, could he be about to deliver one last great side to remember him by?

Crystal Palace

  • 01 Speroni
  • 02 Ward
  • 21 Moxey
  • 08 Dikgacoi
  • 19 Gabbidon
  • 27 Delaney
  • 46 Bannan (Gayle - 77' )
  • 15 Jedinak
  • 29 Chamakh
  • 31 Guédioura (Kébé - 72' )
  • 14 Thomas (Bolasie - 58' )


  • 03 Mariappa
  • 07 Bolasie
  • 12 O'Keefe
  • 13 Puncheon
  • 16 Gayle
  • 28 Kébé
  • 34 Price


  • 01 Szczesny
  • 03 Sagna
  • 28 Gibbs
  • 20 Flamini (Wilshere - 8' )
  • 04 Mertesacker
  • 06 Koscielny
  • 16 Ramsey
  • 08 Arteta Dismissed
  • 12 Giroud
  • 11 Özil
  • 19 Cazorla (Monreal - 72' )


  • 05 Vermaelen
  • 07 Rosicky
  • 10 Wilshere
  • 17 Monreal
  • 21 Fabianski
  • 23 Bendtner
  • 44 Gnabry (Wilshere - 69' )
Ref: Chris Foy
Att: 20,050

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