Monday 26 June 2017

Crystal Palace v Arsenal: Story of the match

Wilfried Zaha, left, and Andros Townsend tormented Arsenal
Wilfried Zaha, left, and Andros Townsend tormented Arsenal

Arsene Wenger's future as Arsenal manager took another turn on Monday night as the Gunners were soundly beaten at London rivals Crystal Palace.

Having won just two of their last seven Premier League games before travelling to Selhurst Park, Arsenal arrived late in south London and never got out of first gear as Sam Allardyce got one over on his old foe - with the 3-0 victory easing Palace's relegation fears in the process.

Former Tottenham man Andros Townsend opened the scoring before Yohan Cabaye's well-taken second and Luka Milivojevic's penalty.

Large sections of Arsenal's support ended the night with a chorus of "Arsene Wenger, we want you to go" and "you're not fit to wear the shirt" - with protests against the 67-year-old likely to ramp up as they remain sixth following this damaging defeat.

TWEET OF THE MATCH

"Energetic Palace display but could keep ball better. Feel for Sanchez,working hard while Ozil simply is cheating in football terms." - Former Premier League striker Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) is not impressed with Arsenal's Germany playmaker.

STAR MAN: Wilfried Zaha.

The winger is presently playing the finest football of his career, and amid consistently stretching Arsenal's uncertain defence while combining well with Andros Townsend and Christian Benteke, assisted Palace's first two goals.

VIEW FROM THE BENCH

The longer Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger delays making an announcement regarding his future, the more the suspicion grows that he is waiting for a run of good results and performances before he does so. The problem is that his side seem to be playing under such pressure, and have become so uncertain, that a positive run appears increasingly unlikely. Something will need to give, because neither the Frenchman nor his players appear happy.

Those doubting Sam Allardyce's ability to inspire Crystal Palace to survival did so largely because of a difficult-looking run of fixtures that began at Chelsea on April 1 and, as well as Southampton and Arsenal, includes Liverpool, Tottenham, and both Manchester teams. Victories against both Chelsea and Arsenal means their points total is 34, just six shy of the figure widely considered sufficient for survival, and with seven games to play. A significant collapse is needed for them to be relegated now.

DATA POINT

This was the 29th meeting between managers Arsene Wenger and Sam Allardyce, but despite the latter being widely regarded as such a threat to the Frenchman, this was only his fifth victory.

For all that this was a significant result, those who believe out-thinking Wenger comes naturally to Allardyce are - as the stats show - wrong. This was the Palace manager's first defeat of Wenger's Arsenal since 2006, when he was at Bolton. None came during his time at Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham or Sunderland.

PLAYER RATINGS

CRYSTAL PALACE

Wayne Hennessey: 8

Joel Ward: 7

Martin Kelly: 6

Mamadou Sakho: 7

Jeffrey Schlupp: 7

Luka Milivojevic: 7

Yohan Cabaye: 8

Jason Puncheon: 7

Wilfried Zaha: 8

Andros Townsend: 8

Christian Benteke: 7

Subs

James McArthur (for Cabaye, 74mins): 6

Mathieu Flamini (for Milivojevic, 82mins) 6

Damien Delaney (for Zaha, 88mins) 6

ARSENAL

Emiliano Martinez: 6

Hector Bellerin: 6

Gabriel: 5

Shkodran Mustafi: 6

Nacho Monreal: 6

Granit Xhaka: 5

Mohamed Elneny: 7

Theo Walcott: 5

Mesut Ozil: 5

Alexis Sanchez: 7

Danny Welbeck: 7

Subs

Aaron Ramsey (for Elneny, 59mins): 5

Olivier Giroud (for Welbeck, 60mins): 5

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (for Walcott, 69mins): 6

WHO'S UP NEXT?

Middlesbrough v Arsenal, Premier League, April 17

Crystal Palace v Leicester, Premier League, April 15

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