By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal team at the start: Cech, Chambers, Mustafi, Koscielny, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Wilshere, Özil, Alexis, Lacazette.
On the beach : Ospina, Walcott, Holding, Iwobi, Welbeck, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin
Crystal Palace pulling themselves around their penalty are from the start and speculating on the long high ball. Arsenal trying to pass the ball forward but looking at a double wall of defenders. So a rather dull opening minutes. Xhaka with the first shot of the match from distance but one meter over the Palace goal. Palace with the first corner and two attackers blocking Cech but nothing given by the ref. Cech could punch it away and was jumped upon but still no foul. Cabaye then with a shot from distance but half a meter wide. Still 0-0 after 15 minutes.
Arsenal with a good attack but the shot is blocked and then the cross from Bellerin is blocked and Palace can clear. A good Arsenal combination with Özil in the middle finds Xhaka who shoots but it is blocked by a defender. Arsenal with some sustained pressure on the Palace goal but the final shot from Wilshere is straight at the keeper. Palace now even not trying to go forward in this period. Arsenal push Palace back and when Özil gives the ball to Lacazette he first tries to cross it but it is blocked. Lacazette then suddenly shoots from a difficult angle with his left foot and the keeper pushes it to the side and Mustafi who had gone up for a free kick pushes the ball over the line. GOAL! 0-1 To The Arsenal after 25 minutes. Alexis with some dangerous defending but Arsenal can clear the ball but the counter attack only leads to Chambers getting a yellow card for pulling Zaha back in the Palace half. Alexis with a great ball to Özil but the Palace keeper with an amazing reflex stop from close range to prevent another Arsenal goal. A tackle from behind on Wilshere but no card from the ref? The free kick is straight at the keeper. Arsenal still 0-1 up after 30 minutes.
Zaha with an attempt for Palace but the ball went wide. Bellerin and Lacazette with a good combination on the right flank but the cross is cut out by a defender. Lacazette then with some good footwork on the edge of the penalty area but his shot goes wide. Arsenal with a good attack and Alexis give is to Özil who tries to give it to Bellerin or Lacazette but the ball goes out of their reach and then finally Xhaka has a shot but straight at the keeper. We should have been at least 2 in front by now. Townsend grabs the shirt of Kolasinac for a while and when the latter does the same the ref gives a free kick to Palace…. Arsenal go in with a 0-1 advantage after 45 minutes.
Alexis with a good cross to Bellerin but his touch let him down. He was hesitating between taking it first time or controlling it and it ran away from him and the keeper was then first on the ball. And then out of nothing Palace with a counter. Zaha with a low cross and Townsend at the end of it scores the equaliser. 1-1 after 50 minutes. Arsenal paying for not finishing their chances. Palace scoring from what was their first chance. Palace got lifted and Arsenal looking a bit insecure for a few moments. Schlupp has a shot bit in the side net. Arsenal need to pick up their passing again. Still 1-1 after 60 minutes.
Arsenal back in control after a few dodgy minutes. The assistant then giving Özil offside when he was at least a meter onside? Lacazette a bit later wins a corner. Palace can’t clear the ball properly and Lacazette gives it to Alexis whose shot goes in between the fist of the keeper and the goalpost. GOAL!! 1-2 To The Arsenal after 62 minutes. Palace then get a throw in that should have gone to Arsenal but luckily the shot is blocked by a defender. Wilshere with an amazing ball to Alexis who controls it on his thigh and pushes it next to the keeper. GOAL!!! 1-3 To The Arsenal after 66 minutes. Kolasinac away and his low cross finds Özil but he shoots over the goal and the chance is lost. A backpass being picked up by the keeper from Palace??? It might have taken a slight deflection on the way (don’t know) but it was a deliberate backpass. After 73 minutes Lacazette goes off and Coquelin comes on. That will mean that Alexis will play up front now I think. Arsenal still 1-3 up after 75 minutes.
A bad pass from Mustafi sends Zaha away but two defenders blocking his shot for a corner. Bellerin is send away and he takes the shot but the keeper pushes it away and then Palace can clear. Xhaka overstretches his leg and goes down injured and needs treatment. A dangerous cross for Palace but Zaha heads it wide with his shoulder. Arsenal leaning back now and thus inviting some pressure on them. Arsenal has to clear two dangerous crosses. Palace win the ball with their hand but the shot goes over. Oliver didn’t see it. Xhaka has to go off and Maitland-Niles comes on after 86 minutes. Another low cross after Arsenal couldn’t clear the ball leads to a corner. Tompkins heads the corner in. 2-3 after 89 minutes.
Arsenal trying to run down the clock at both corner flags. But Palace win another corner but it is cleared. And with much huffing and puffing Arsenal manage to win 2-3. It should have been made easier for ourselves but we didn’t continue to play like we did in the last 10 minutes and almost paid for it. We should have kept going forward in the last 10 minutes. A lesson to learn.
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- How a 14th monk described Arsenal’s failure to buy Moisés Caicedo and Mykhailo Mudryk