By Walter Broeckx
As I had a board meeting with my fellow members from the Arsenal Belgium supporters club I wasn’t close to a computer during and after the match. So not the usual match report this time. More a combination of the match and some after thoughts.
Arsenal started with the same outfield players that started against West Ham. The only change was made in goal where Cech came back after his injury and Ospina dropped to the bench. I wonder if the why didn’t he start Cech against West Ham shouts will still be heard after the match.
From the off it was clear to see. Crystal Palace didn’t came to play a match of football. They came to play something that can be called parking the bus, catenaccio, concrete football…
All the ingredients to spoil the pleasant affair that should be a football match. I think in the first 45 minutes Crystal Palace wasn’t even interested or tried to put some passes together. No it was just hoofing it in any direction as long as it was as far away as possible from their own goal. Time wasting from the first minute on by all their players.
What you need then is an early goal. We didn’t get that. Because we found it difficult to get behind their 3 double defensive line. Most of the time they even played without anyone up front. 10 defenders and a goalkeeper. We started too slow and didn’t find the early opening.
The longer the match went on the more frustrating it became. To pass your way through 10 defenders is very difficult and asks for very precise passing. Our passing wasn’t very precise. On the few occasions when things opened up a bit we lacked the final ball. Welbeck tried to flick on a few balls but too many Palace legs in the way. Alexis worked hard but his crosses only found Palace heads and legs.
Yes we were denied our weekly penalty. Koscielny trying to make a run for a corner was blatantly held back by a defender for 6 or 7 metres. The Palace defender was holding Kos with both arms but this seems to be allowed when performed on Arsenal players these days.
At the other end when Palace got themselves a corner from a deflected hoofed ball they always made a foul on Cech. Even ref East called one. He could have done it each time but well…
Özil came close after a fine attack between him and Alexis but his poked shot was straight at Hennesey. Elneny tried his luck with a shot from distance but it took a deflection and went over the crossbar.
And then suddenly in the extra time of the first half we found the opening. Arsenal won the ball back high up the field and Welbeck chipped in a cross towards Alexis whose looping header found the back of the net. 1-0 to the Arsenal at the end of the first half. Well deserved as we had been the only team that had tried to play football.
Arsenal tried to add a second after the interval. Crystal Palace tried to keep the score at 1-0 and hoped they could get the lucky break somehow. For more than 70 minutes it was more of the same. Arsenal trying to play football and Crystal Palace playing …. Yes what were they playing??? Surely not football?
Arsenal had enough chances to score a second goal. Alexis with two headers that just went wide at each end of the post. Welbeck with a chance from close range but he struck the keeper on the shoulder and the ball bounced away from the goal. Özil with a free kick that went just wide.
Crystal Palace had been fouling all day. And some cynical fouls amongst the fouls. And the ref kept his cards in the pocket. Around the hour mark he finally produced a yellow card but some of the cynical attack breaking fouls deserved more cards.
Arsenal not being able to make that second goal came back to haunt them. Crystal Palace had one weak shot in the first half straight at Cech and with some 10 minutes to go they had their second shot of the match. It seemed not that hard to catch but somehow Cech didn’t go down fast enough to his right hand side and just like against West Ham in the first match the stoppable shot went in. If that would have been Ospina…hell would have been loosed upon Ospina and on Wenger for picking him. We know and realise every keeper makes the odd mistake from time to time. Even world class keepers. Cech will get over it as he has been around long enough but it sure was a very unfortunate moment for him and for Arsenal. 1-1 after 81 minutes.
Arsenal was shocked by the goal and the cruelty of the game that had unfolded. The organisation went out of the door and lucky for a strong challenge from Gabriel to block Crystal Palace when Kos gave them almost a second chance. That would have been a complete unfair affair but well nobody is claiming that football results in fair results.
I can imagine Dean shouting in the ear of ref East to finish the match as just when Alexis was preparing to take a shot outside the penalty area for Arsenal he blew his whistle. This isn’t the first time this has happened this season. Southampton? Or was it Swansea?
Anyway the match ended with a 1-1 score. Completely against anything that has happened on the field. The draw at West Ham came at a bad moment but as it was a match played between two teams who went for it I could easily accept it. Even with all the refereeing errors on display.
But this draw is harder to take. Because it was so completely undeserved that Palace should get anything from this match with their tactics of spoiling what should have been a football match. Because now not only my Arsenal heart is bleeding. No, now also my football heart is bleeding. And that is the hardest part in fact.
- The importance of Thursdays (and not playing football on them)
- FA Ladies Cup Semi-final report Arsenal v Sunderland
- Arsenal v Palace: Premier League victory number 500 would do nicely
- We cannot have a situation like the Summer of 2015
- A selected anniversary from beyond football and a nice picture of the stadium and a train.
- Today’s Arsenal anniversaries and the Insult of the Day
- A list of the most recent posts from Untold and the Arsenal History Society
- Details of all the the books Untold Arsenal has published
Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle. The books are
- The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
- Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace. By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football. By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
- Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.
You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page