Emphatic substitutions pays off for Mikel Arteta 
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Crystal Palace fans interact with players of Arsenal 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 Facundo Arrizabalaga - Pool/Getty Images)

The grey skies started to clear as Selhurst Park welcomed fans through it's gates for the first time in six months.

The long overdue singing and chanting descending from the stands mixed with the deep orange sky as the sun started to set made for a great night for mid-week football. 

It wasn't quite the sentimental Selhurst send off that Roy Hodgson would've been dreaming of as two late goals from Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pepe sealed the three points for Mikel Arteta's men. 

The game was a cagey affair from the off, two VAR decisions to check for red cards. The home fans shovelling virtual coal onto the fire of Palace's on-field antics.

In the opening half hour, Rob Holding and Gabriel did well to help weather the storm in the first half, with centre forward colossus Christian Benteke at the forefront of Arteta's defensive worries. 

However the Gunners' diligence and discipline paid off in the 35th minute when a neat cross from Kieran Tierney met the foot of Pepe which nestled firmly in the back of the net, too speedy for Vicente Guaita to react to. 

Both sides started the second half a little off the pace, which cannot be said for the fans, who roared and cheered at every throw in and booed the visiting players every time they stopped to tie their shoe lace

Just past the hour mark Benteke powered a stooping header past Bernd Leno in the Arsenal goal following a sumptuous free kick delivery.

The Belgian striker scoring his fourth goal in four games for Hodgson's Eagles. 

But Arsenal robbed the points right in front of seven thousand Palace fans in added time. Martinelli bundling the ball over the keeper to make it 2-1 following a perfectly angled pass by fellow substitute Martin Ødegaard.

In the final minute of added time, Pepe slalomed through the tired home defence and passed the ball into the net for his second, keeping Europa League qualification hopes alive.

  • Gunners take their chances

Arteta's men did look flat for the majority of the first half except for one flash of brilliance during a Tierney and Pepe link up.

The second half saw them lucky to still be in the game by the 75th minute, following an equalising goal and a relentless barrage by the home side, spurred on by their action-starved fans. 

The Gunners had three shots on target in the match and scored all of them... 

This impressive conversion rate achieved by Arsenal is a first under Arteta. In his 53 Premier League games managing the team never before have the players scored every shot on target they have taken.

Pepe looked like the winger of old that only Kylian Mbappe outscored in Ligue 1 in the 18/19 season, scoring two goals in one game for the first time in his Premier League career.

Co-commentator Martin Keown stated on the final whistle "he's starting to look worth that £70 Million price tag."

  • Arteta's choices pay off

Media outlets and journalists were quick to jump on the fact that Arteta had left Martinelli and Granit Xhaka out of the starting eleven.

It looked as if it was the wrong decision at first as captain Pierre Emerick Aubameyang looked isolated and idealess up top. Fans were calling online for Martinelli to come on... 

However Arteta remained vigilant, and brought on an eager and energetic Martinelli with ten minutes to go, who more than made an impression helping to outsmart the laboured defenders in front of him.

A clever run in behind the line of defence allowed him bags of space to bundle the ball into the back of the net.  

Xhaka came on for Calum Chambers and Martinelli came on for Thomas Partey, juggling the team into a more attacking formation.

Low and behold it paid off as Arsenal wrapped up the game in the final few minutes, something they haven't been able to execute this year in what has been a difficult season.