The Warmdown: Gunners stumble on the road with loss to Crystal Palace
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 04: Emile Smith Rowe of Arsenal reacts after a missed chance during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on April 04, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Arsenal fell to their first league away defeat since December when they travelled to Selhurst Park, against an energetic Crystal Palace team managed by a former captain of the Gunners, Patrick Vieira

The result means Arsenal now sit in fifth place, level on points with North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who thrashed Newcastle United 5-1 on Sunday. 

Whilst Monday's result is certainly a set back for Mikel Arteta's side, they can still consider themselves to be in poll position for the final Champions League spot, having at least one game in hand over their rivals and still needing to play fellow competitors Manchester United, Tottenham, West Ham and Chelsea.

The Eagles on the other hand have now climbed up to the top half of the table positioned in ninth, a massive achievement for Vieira in his first season at the helm.

  • An Arsenal of old?

For many Arsenal fans, memories of their side struggling on the road are in the not so distant past, with the Gunners finding it hard to perform away from home in the latter years of Arsène Wenger's reign, as well as under Unai Emery

Despite the odd result here and there, Arsenal have improved away from the Emirates Stadium under Arteta, and even when they have lost, they haven't necessarily capitulated like they used to.

However, Monday night was like being transported in a time machine... Selhurst Park was bouncing from the first whistle, the Palace players were up for it and got off to a fast start, and quite simply, Arsenal weren't good enough. 

They looked especially toothless in the first half, struggling to maintain possession, let alone create any noteworthy chances, whilst at the back they looked fragile and second best to every ball, not being able to cope with the pressing and tight marking of Vieira's team.

In the second half the Gunners did improve, they were able to hold onto the ball and created some chances that they should have scored, but they still weren't good enough; turning over a 2-0 deficit was already a huge task, but Wilfried Zaha's converted penalty was the final nail in Arsenal's coffin.

  • Perfect Palace performance

It would be unfair to take away from Crystal Palace's performance, who were fantastic from start to finish. 

The attacking trio of Jean-Philippe Mateta, Jordan Ayew and Zaha, complemented by Conor Gallagher was too much for Arsenal to handle.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 04: Jean-Philippe Mateta of Crystal Palace in action during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://vavel.com/en/football/2021/05/19/arsenal/1071948-crystal-palace-1-3-arsenal-nicolas-pepe-grabs-double-at-selhurst-park.html' href='https://vavel.com/en/football/2021/05/19/arsenal/1071948-crystal-palace-1-3-arsenal-nicolas-pepe-grabs-double-at-selhurst-park.html'>Selhurst Park</a></strong> on April 4, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 04: Jean-Philippe Mateta of Crystal Palace in action during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on April 4, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

 

Gallagher effectively marked Thomas Partey out of the game, stamping the Ghanaian out every time he got the ball, whilst the front three were able to force individual errors out of the Arsenal back line, in particularly the full backs, with Portuguese left back Nuno Taveres being substituted at half time.

Marc Guehi was a rock at centre half, and most notably made a fantastic block to deny Emile Smith Rowe's rebound that had beaten his goalkeeper, whilst his defensive partner Joachim Andersen provided assists for two of his sides goals.

  • Looking ahead

Coming up to an important run of games, Arteta needs to ensure that this result and performance is a one time occurrence. 

Arsenal host Brighton on Saturday and then face a trip to Southampton the following weekend, in two games that are at the start of a season defying run of fixtures for the Gunners.

Chelsea away, Manchester United at home, and then two away trips to West Ham and Tottenham still await Arsenal, with the outcome of these fixtures important to each teams aspirations of Champions League football next season.

With Kieran Tierney missing from the squad for the Palace game due to a knee injury, and Partey hobbling off in the second half, it will be vital for Arsenal that these injuries are not too serious, and that they can get their important players back to full fitness.

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