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  • Julian Taylor at Selhurst Park

Odegaard's spot kick gives 10-man Gunners all three points as Eagles fire blanks up front



Julian Taylor at Selhurst Park


Crystal Palace 0 Arsenal 1

A highly impressive night of resilience from Arsenal.


As Crystal Palace launched into a burst of sustained activity during the last stretch of an intriguing clash at Selhurst Park, due to a sending off for the Gunners' Takehiro Tomiyasu, a riot of six or more luminous yellow jerseys strung across the back, faced them.


Arsenal, so often renowned for their enterprise, needed to dig deep and find this unfussy, but necessary, dimension to their game. The north Londoners eventually edged this affair, with a second half penalty by Martin Odegaard. Gunners’ manager Mikel Arteta will, nevertheless, recall this game in terms of the organisation and desire from his side at a venue where many teams tend to struggle.


Arsenal won 2-0 here last season and such victories provided the bedrock for a title tilt, which eventually faded in their final weeks. However, there was enough steel and organisation to suggest they are in a similarly good place. Now, with the weight of record buy Declan Rice behind them, if only they had a 20-plus goals a season marksman to make what needs to be the significant difference.

Palace worked hard in latter stages but found Arsenal determined to nibble away and protect their lead in as professional a manner as possible. As such, Arteta would have been pleased with the extra commitment and durability needed after going down to 10 men. It was as if he knew the kind of sustained assault which was coming from the Eagles. But Arsenal impressively prevailed. Moreover, with Odegaard converting from the spot, it promises much for another reasonable goal return from the Dane.


The customary febrile atmosphere in this corner of south London greeted Arsenal, who were hoping to continue their run from last term where they went unbeaten in their visits across the capital.


Palace had managed to eke out a win at newly-promoted Sheffield United in their first game of the Premier League season – the kind of victory which can characterise a certain positivity – while Arsenal, in the absence of injured Gabriel Jesus, hoped they possessed sufficient firepower in the shape of Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli.

These days, Palace are still getting accustomed to life without Wilfried Zaha, the talisman who personified so much positive lifeform about the club – but Michael Olise, his heir-apparent, was getting his name chanted in appreciation of rejecting Chelsea overtures to sign a new deal at Selhurst Park. Olise is currently injured, but with Odsonne Edouard, Ebere Eze and Jeffrey Schlupp all featuring, there was surely enough invention and verve for Eagles’ boss Roy Hodgson to rely upon. Unfortunately for Palace, the trio, on this night at least, were firing blanks.

Eze served the first real intent in the 16th minute with a swerving shot which was well held by Aaron Ramsdale in the Arsenal goal, with Cheick Doucoure also going close from long range. If the north Londoners, meanwhile, lacked a certain incision, at least they showed patience and determination to keep possession to try and tip the momentum of the clash in their favour as the first half accelerated.


To that end, Nketiah was only denied by the base of the Eagles’ post when the striker did well to evade Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen, before prodding the ball goal ward past keeper Sam Johnstone.


Busy Nketiah has been accused of degrees of profligacy in front of goal, that sense of requiring a number of chances before he finally converts. And a 35th minute miss, hastily turning the ball over the bar when set up perfectly by Rice, was another illustration of this, to the frustration of the Arsenal support.


The derby needed a piece of ingenuity, a breakthrough. With Arsenal applying pressure, increasingly reducing the hosts to counter-attacks, Johnstone tipped over a raking drive by Odegaard.

Somewhat relived to survive those Nketiah moments, Palace began to reassert themselves just as the first period was drawing to a conclusion.


Whatever Arteta said at the break, it seemed to galvanise his men – and in the 54nd minute they were awarded a penalty. Nketiah, racing into a gap in the Palace defence, was sent tumbling from a quick free kick by Martinelli. Odegaard had the responsibility to keep his cool. The Arsenal skipper subsequently slotted low into the corner.


Arsenal – with Rice in particular keeping terrific tempo - began to dominate midfield areas, and were unquestionably keen to double their lead. Thomas Partey drew a decent save from Johnstone, while Kai Havertz tried his luck.

Drama ensured, however, in 67 minutes when Tomiyasu was red carded. The defender, booked a few minutes earlier for time wasting at a throw-in, impeded the momentum of Jordan Ayew. A harsh decision, perhaps, from referee David Coote. It also forced Arteta into a rethink, and he withdrew Martinelli for Gabriel to add strength at the back in anticipation of a Palace surge against the ten-man Gunners.


It was up to Palace to take advantage of a clear psychological shift. As messy as events were since Arsenal scored, with over 20 minutes remaining, could they chisel out a leveller?


Jorginho came on for Nketiah in what looked like another cautious switch from Arteta to shore up the advantage. The visiting manager’s diligence and attention to detail paid off, with Palace simply unable to find a way through. In a broader sense, Arsenal’s objectives this term will be much higher. Hodgson, though, will enjoy better outings at home from his men than this.


Eagles: Johnstone, Ward, Mitchell, Guehi, Lerma, Ayew, Eze, Schlupp, Andersen, Edouard, Doucoure

Gunners: Ramsdale, Saliba, White, Partey, Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli, Nketiah, Tomiyasu, Havertz, Rice


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