Yannick Bolasie’s late goal ensured Crystal Palace came away with a point at the Emirates stadium, but the Eagles will feel slightly lucky to earn a point.
Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal the lead with a deft header in first-half stoppage-time, however, a lacklustre Gunners side failed to extend their lead and were ultimately punished.
The game would not have been the most exciting affair for the neutral as both sides failed to hit top form. Arsenal created the better chances but the Palace defence stood firm and took their chance when it finally came.
Palace player ratings
Wayne Hennessey – 6: Made a crucial save to deny Mesut Ozil just before Sanchez opened the scoring and had a reasonably good game. Poor form from the Christmas period seems to have finally disappeared and does not look as nervous when the ball goes into his box.
Joel Ward – 5: Arsenal’s attacking midfield trio's insistence to roam meant Ward did not have a consistent player to mark and often appeared out of position in the first-half. Sanchez stuck to the left-wing in the second period and Ward’s performance improved, dealing with the threat of Sanchez really well.
Scott Dann – 6: Dann was caught at least five yards too far back in the build-up to Arsenal’s goal, but barring that lapse in concentration, the Palace defender had a solid game. Appeared to injure his foot towards the end of the first-half which was an initial scare, but soldered on and provided a typically resolute performance.
Damien Delaney – 7: Arguably one of his best performances in a Palace shirt on his 150th appearance for the club. Didn’t resort to the usual long diagonal ball to a striker and instead tried to play his passes out from the back, which ultimately improved his performance and made him easier to watch. Dealt with the threat of Sanchez and Danny Welbeck really well and led by example.
Pape Souare – 6: Rounding off an astute and much-improved defensive display is Pape Souare who, in turn, played very well. The full-back has suffered his worst run of form since his arrival last January, but was able to deal with the threat of Sanchez and the advancing runs of Hector Bellerin well – including making some trademark fully committed tackles.
Jason Puncheon – 5: Struggled to have an impact on the game throughout the contest and this was exemplified in the first-half when he was dispossessed with ease on a number of occasions. Was finally withdrawn for the much more effective Wilfried Zaha late on.
Mile Jedinak – 4: It’s actually intriguing to find out exactly what makes Alan Pardew continue to pick the Australian despite countless poor performances in the last twelve months. A first-half that consisted of misplaced passes and conceding sloppy free-kicks led to his early departure from the action at half-time. Jedinak’s display was summed up when he gave possession away cheaply on the edge of the Palace box and three seconds later the ball was in the back of Hennessey’s net.
Yohan Cabaye – 6: The Frenchman has suffered with the pressure of having more responsibility in the Palace midfield during the recent poor run of form, but returned to his near-best today with a very good performance. Started very deep as Pardew opted to play a 4-4-2, but was allowed more freedom when the shape switched to a 4-2-3-1. Very good time to return to form with the FA Cup semi-final looming.
Joe Ledley – 5: Started out on the left of the midfield but moved central when Palace changed shape towards the end of the first-half. Similar to Puncheon, Ledley failed to have an impact on the game and seemed very slow when on the ball. Was booked for giving away a free-kick in a dangerous position.
Yannick Bolasie – 6: Really struggled to find his way in the game and Pardew admitted in his post-match interview that he was considering substituting the winger before his goal, but the decision not to take him off proved correct when he fired in his side’s equaliser with then minutes to go. Was deployed as a striker in the opening stages of the game and struggled to keep hold of the ball and seemingly lacked confidence. The goal will hopefully increase his self-belief and an incline in form will follow.
Connor Wickham – 5: Certainly not his best game in a Palace shirt but really lacked service throughout the game. Missed a glorious chance to put his side ahead just moments before the opening goal when he headed a Cabaye set-piece over the bar. Was replaced by Emmanuel Adebayor who had a much bigger impact on the game.
Substitutes make an impact in improved second-half performance
Bakary Sako – 6: Replaced Jedinak at half-time and had a good game on the left-hand side of midfield. Pinned Bellerin back with his direct play and was unlucky to see his header tipped over the bar superbly by Petr Cech.
Emmanuel Adebayor – 6: Returned to the Emirates to an expected hostile atmosphere, however, this did not faze him as he managed to set up the equaliser. He picked up the ball on the halfway line and used his experience to carry the ball and hold it up to wait for options, which finally arrived in the form of Bolasie – who did the rest.
Wilfried Zaha – NA: Replaced Puncheon in the latter stages as the game opened up. Could have won the game when his mazy run presented him with the chance to provide Adebayor with an empty net, but Gabriel came across just in time to thwart the danger.