Alexandre Lacazette struck with the last kick of the game as Arsenal earned a point against Crystal Palace and prevented Patrick Vieira winning on his return to the club.
The Frenchman won three Premier League titles and captained the Gunners during their unbeaten ‘Invincibles’ campaign and his name rang around the Emirates Stadium before and after a thrilling 2-2 draw.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put Arsenal ahead early on but from then on Palace were the better side as Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard struck in the second half to seemingly win the game – only for substitute Lacazette to level at the death.
Vieira did not have talisman Wilfried Zaha, absent through illness, available but came close to recording a win against the club where he spent nine years.
He never graced the Emirates Stadium in Arsenal red and would not taste victory here, dropping to his haunches as Lacazette’s effort prevented the Eagles from leapfrogging Arsenal in the table.
For Mikel Arteta, while this was a hard-fought point it is another step backwards after three successive wins had seemingly got their stuttering campaign back on track.
Vieira’s warm welcome lasted all of eight minutes as Arsenal hit the front.
The hosts opened the scoring through Aubameyang, who was alert to tap home at the back post after goalkeeper Vicente Guaita had palmed away a curling shot from the recalled Nicolas Pepe.
That would not lead to the floodgates opening, however, as Palace responded well to falling behind.
Benteke had come in for Zaha and wanted a penalty after being crowded out in the box before later shooting low at Aaron Ramsdale.
James McArthur was arguably lucky to only escape with a booking after a rash kick to the back of Bukayo Saka’s calf as the half wore on.
Vieira’s side grew more and more into the contest and Ramsdale was at full stretch to save a Conor Gallagher strike with the last kick of the half.
Saka did not emerge after the break as he was replaced by Albert Sambi Lokonga, most likely as a result of the kick from McArthur but also as Arteta added more steel to his midfield.
Thomas Partey saw an effort fly just wide as Arsenal attempted to start the second half in similar fashion – but instead they were pegged back moments later.
Takehiro Tomiyasu played the ball to Partey, who was closed down by Jordan Ayew and in his haste passed the ball straight to Benteke, who coolly finished past Ramsdale to equalise.
Vieira pumped the air in celebration and could have seen his side go in front as Ayew forced Ramsdale into a sharp save with the away side now very much in the ascendancy.
Arteta turned to his bench and introduced Lacazette in place of the ineffectual Martin Odegaard and the France striker soon drew a low stop out of Guaita with the game opening up.
Palace took the lead, again capitalising on poor Arsenal play as Lokonga was this time robbed of possession by substitute Michael Olise.
The summer signing from Reading exchanged passes with Gallagher before finding Edouard, whose powerful strike flew past Ramsdale and in off the crossbar.
Arsenal reacted well, Kieran Tierney rattling the crossbar and Pepe rightly having a late penalty claim turned down by referee Mike Dean before a last-gasp corner was worked back into the box and dropped to Lacazette to turn home from close range.
League of Ireland
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