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  • By Alessandro Schiavone at Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace trash Arsenal 3-0 as Arteta is outwitted by rival and potential successor Vieira

Crystal Palace dished out a lesson to Arsenal as the Eagles cantered to a 3-0 win at Selhurst Park courtesy of two first-half goals by Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew and a penalty by the fit-again Wilfried Zaha on 74 minutes.

It was a five-star display by tonight’s electric Eagles and their first home win against Arsenal since a 3-0 demolition in April 2017, ending a barren run of four games against the North Londoners and climbing up to a respectable ninth in the table.

Despite the obvious gulf in quality between the two sides, reflected by the 20-point-gap in the table prior to kick-off, Patrick Vieira outwitted his counterpart, and who knows, his potential successor at Emirates Stadium one day.

The Gunners threw away a huge opportunity to move three points above north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand in the race for a place in next season’s Champions League.

Palace attacked in numbers from the off and the game was barely 16 minutes old when Joachim Anderson set up Mateta for a headed opener.

The Dane inadvertently headed across goal the outstanding Conor Gallagher’s free-kick for Mateta to nod home. And worse was to come for Arsenal when Ghana international Ayew drilled a low effort into the far corner to double his side’s lead on 24 minutes.

If Palace were in control, winning the first and second balls and cutting Arsenal open whenever they wanted thanks to a combination of pace, power and intensity, the Gunners played with the handbrake off.

In a clear example of the togetherness in Palace’s team, Gallagher dropped deep to deny Thomas Partey a shooting opportunity on the edge of the box as half-time approached.

Not only were the Gunners not up to the task when it came to transiton play, they also failed to muster a single shot on target until Gabriel’s weak back-post header with the last kick of the first period.

Palace deserved credit for making life excruciatingly difficult for Arteta’s disjointed flops.

They were well-organised, disciplined and hungry to win the ball back, almost as if they were out to avenge the heartbreaking last-gasp Alexandre Lacazette equaliser in the reverse fixture.

The Arsenal players, meanwhile, kept getting in their own way with misplaced passes, poor transition play and schoolboy errors.

After the restart, Andersen’s free-kick was effectively dealt with by Aaron Ramsdale as Crystal Palace looked for the goal that would put them out of sight in this contest.

After that it was Arsenal to take the game to the home side and ask some questions in front of goal, but without success.

In the 63th minute, Emile Smith-Rowe wasted a terrific opportunity to reopen the game, steering a low effort straight at Vicente Guaita from range.

And fellow youngster Martin Odegaard didn’t do much better when he fired wide on the half-volley following Bukayo Saka’s cross.

Zaha then put the game to bed when he sent Ramsdale the wrong way from the penalty spot in the 74th minute.

A late, desperate attempt to set up a grandstand finale went up in smoke for the Gunners when Eddie Nketiah was denied by the woodwork in the 84th minute.

This was arguably the best performance of the season by Palace and the Champions League-chasing Gunners’ worst.

It was not just the victory for Palace. It was the scintillating manner In which it was achieved.


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