THREE THINGS LEARNED FROM CRYSTAL PALACE VS ARSENAL
Arsenal succumbed to a wretched 3-0 defeat against Crystal Palace. The loss leaves the Gunners level on points with Tottenham Hotspur in 4th, with the Lilywhites having played a game more, but with a superior goal difference and a vital North London derby on the horizon. Nothing seemed to click for Arsenal today, but why? Was it a hangover from the international break? There have been a number of disjointed performances after players have returned from national team duty. It has been pinpointed on this platform that this might be a potential obstacle for Arsenal. What in particular from this game did we learn? Here are three key takeaways from the match.
Lack of depth in key areas proving a Killer Blow
If there was one area of the pitch, you might’ve thought Arsenal would have enough to deal with lack of availability. It is full back. Whatever is said about Tierney and Tomiyasu, there are at least physical bodies to back them up. The thing about reserve players is that when they are over exposed it can lead to bad showings.
Nuno Tavares will not like how that match transpired, for the second time in a row, he failed to finish a game and was hooked early by Mikel Arteta. Cedric Soares has performed amicably in the absence of Takehiro Tomiyasu, but nobody is of the opinion that he can suddenly be anything more than a short term rotation option for the Gunners.
Kieran Tierney’s injury and Tomiyasu’s continued absence will be giving Arteta serious food for thought. Does he trust the options he has or does he pragmatically seek a solution that potentially derails all the positive progress Arsenal have been making this season?
Break the Central linkages, you break the Gunners.
Who have been the most influential Arsenal players over the last two months? You would probably say Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka. Crystal Palace did their homework. They found a way to keep those players quiet. The profile of the Crystal Palace players was athletic and devastating in transition.
Thomas Partey was not himself, as the sole anchor, it is safe to say he was pressed off the pitch by Conor Gallagher and disrupted adeptly by Jean-Philippe Mateta. The Ghanaian never got into his flow, played a whole host of loose passes and looked a shadow of his normal self. To compound matters, he was forced off with a serious injury.
The theme of the last few games has been about the connection between Partey and Odegaard and how they bring others into play. The Eagles did not allow that to transpire, central areas were crowded out and much of the build up play was pushed out to the wide areas.
Patrick Vieira wants the Arsenal job
Patrick Vieira is an Arsenal legend. The Frenchman will feel he is getting the respect he finally deserves. He has led a Crystal Palace team that were annual relegation candidates under Roy Hodgson to the verge of an FA cup final and the prospect of a top half finish. There has been a regeneration and freshness that has been eye-catching in South London.
The former Arsenal captain will always put his best foot forward when facing his old team, he seemed so annoyed when the gunners snatched a last minute equaliser in the home leg of the fixture earlier in the season. The return fixture was always going to be tricky.
Arsenal will be hoping this is a blip, Vieira will be hoping this victory shows that his name should be taken more seriously the next time the hot seat in N5 becomes available.