Arsenal 2-3 Crystal Palace: Gunners Lose Chance to Clinch Third Spot


Damn! Arsenal, just when the opportunity came to capitalise on the defeats of two of their top-four battling rivals, fumbled in their typical manner by recording a preventable 2-3 home loss to Crystal Palace, courtesy nasty defensive mistakes.

I began to raise doubts in me the moment I saw the starting lineup published prior to the game. The midfield did not look good without either of Lucas Torreira or Granit Xhaka.

Fixing Mohamed Elneny into the fold gave me nostalgia of our bitter Goodison Park experience weeks back. To make things worse, Shkodran Mustafi surfaced at the back. Hmm! That happened probably because of Sokratis' suspension. Lest I forget, Ainsley Maitland-Niles sat out for who? Carl Jenkinson. Wonderful!

Justification came for my pessimism as we struggled from the start of the match. It did not take long before our disappointing display got us the hammer from Crystal Palace.

Konstantinos Mavropanos conceded a foul and the action that followed resulted in a lead for the visitors who shared points with us in the first leg last year. Christian Benteke, the man that had not scored a goal since about a year ago banked on our frailties to resurrect from the dead just like Jesus Christ did on same day (Easter Sunday). He connected well to head a Muka Milivojevic free-kick past Bernd Leno.

The aftermath saw Arsenal attack in futility as the Eagles, after going ahead, had built a very strong wall which was hard to penetrate for Arsenal. The few chances gotten could not avert the woe we put upon ourselves.

It was obvious we needed a change as early as the start of the second half and the boss did not fail on that front. Jenkinson and Dinos went off to be replaced by Maitland-Niles and Alex iwobi. Barely a minute after restart, Iwobi and Laca exchanged passes before the Frenchman provided a through pass to Ozil. The German made a run, then utilised limited space to score the equaliser.

Our joy was short-lived, courtesy consistency from Mustafi – consistency in making silly mistakes. The World Cup winner had all the time to get the ball but chose to block Wilfred Zaha who went round him to reclaim the lead for his side.

Our inability to clear the ball from a corner got us punished as we suffered a two-goal deficit. Again, it was Milivojevic who was behind the set piece converted by James McArthur this time.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brought us close to redemption with our second. The Gabonese international raced in, attempted a pass to Lacazette, but in the process, it was deflected and luckily came back to his path. He drove a low shot in and it was 2-3.

The game ended that way with Arsenal maintaining fourth position. We would step to fifth if Chelsea beat or draw Burnley on Monday night. I believe you already know what my wish is.

Now, who are we to blame for the misfortune we got on Sunday? Unai Emery for his weak team selection from the start or Mustafi? In my opinion, the coach only had the blame till half-time. He made amends by making substitutions in the second half. We saw changes as soon as he did that. We were playing better and even got a goal so early.

If not for the idiocy of Mustafi, we would not have left with such a disheartening result. What he did in the build-up to Zaha’s goal was enough to demoralise every other player on the pitch. You saw the look on Leno’s face, right?

The deed has been done though many of us have not still gotten over the shock thrown at us by a side we support with all our heart. How we respond against Wolves in midweek matters a lot. Getting another bad day could end our chances to qualify for the Champions League. Blow the chance and win the Europa League or forget about UCL next season.

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