Crystal Palace 1-3 Arsenal: Nicolas Pepe grabs double at Selhurst Park
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal battles for possession with Tyrick Mitchell of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on May 19, 2021 in London, England. A limited number of fans will be allowed into Premier League stadiums as Coronavirus restrictions begin to ease in the UK. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

The win against Crystal Palace leaves Arsenal on the brink of European football next season with one game left against Brighton at Emirates Stadium.

Is it too little too late? Or will Mikel Arteta land in one of the precious European spots. 

Story of the match 

The Gunners' started the first half brightly and found space and time on the right hand side, Calum Chambers and Emile Smith-Rowe were allowed opportunities to cross, but neither could pick out their striker for the opening goal. 

Mikel Arteta’s side may have the right to be frustrated at VAR, after Jeffrey Schlupp and Christian Bentekeboth had decisions go their way for possible red card checks. 

Nicolas Pepe opened the scoring after 35 minutes to give Arsenal the lead, with a low driven shot from inside the box. Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney linked up neatly on the left wing, and the Englishman found Pepe in the box who drove his effort past Vicente Guaita.

With results going their way over the game week, Arsenal were expected to push on and attack against an out of sorts Palace team with nothing to play for.

It was Palace who started the second half the better of the sides and looked dangerous on the attack with the pace of Wilfried Zaha.

The pressure finally took its toll, as Benteke made the most of a teasing freekick from Andros Townsend, nodding home from close range.

The Gunners were a man down, with Pepe receiving treatment off the pitch, and may feel themselves unfortunate as Benteke appeared to bring Mo Elneny to the ground on his route to goal after 62 minutes.

Arsenal struggled in the closing stages of the game, but for one of the first times this season, Arteta’s substitutions paid dividends. 

Gabriel Martinelli met a Martin Ødegaard cross, (both making an appearance from the bench) in the 90th minute, taking a touch before tapping home from close range to restore the lead for the North London side.

Pepe completed his double and made it three in the fifth minute of added time, curling an effort into the far-left corner beating three defenders and the goalkeeper.

The result leaves the Gunners in ninth, but only a point behind sixth place rivals Tottenham heading into the final game of the season.

Arteta needs results to go his way on Sunday, but with Tottenham facing Champions League chasing Leicester City, and Everton facing the champions Manchester City, the age old football phrase, ‘anything can happen’ starts to sneak into Gunners fans minds. 

VAVEL Logo