By Bulldog Drummond
Crystal Palace have had nine years in the Premier League since their last promotion. During this time they have appeared in the 2015 cup final, and finished on each occason between 10th and 15th in the league.
However despite Arsenal always finishing above them, we have found Palace as a team difficult to beat. In fact across the last 11 games between Palace and Arsenal – all of which were in the Premier League and taking us back to 10 April 2017, Arsenal have only won three games – two away and one at home. There have been five draws and three Palace wins.
Interestingly, each time Palace have beaten Arsenal, they have scored three goals, twice getting a 3-0 victory, and once, at Arsenal stadium, with a 2-3 victory. Across these matches Arsenal have scored:
- Zero goals, three times
- One goal, once
- Two goals, four times
- Three goals twice
- Four goals, once
Palace have scored 20 goals across these games while Arsenal have scored 19.
So the conclusion from this data has to be that although Palace have always ended up lower than Arsenal in the league since their return for the 2013/14 season, in the games between the two clubs there is much more of a balance: they have grabbed 14 points and so have we.
This is an extraordinary record for a team that has always finished between 10th and 15th against a team that has finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th (three times), 6th and eighth (twice).
The record is even more surprising given that across these seasons Arsenal’s top scorer has
- Scored under 15 goals once (Saka)
- Scored 15 to 20 goals twice (Lacazette both times)
- Scored 20 to 25 goals three times (Giroud twice, Sanchez)
- Scored over 25 goals three times (Sanchez once, Aubameyang twice)
For Palace, the goal-scoring of their top man has been
- Scored under 15 goals seven times (Gale three times, Milivojević twice, Ayew once, Zaha once)
- Scored 15 to 20 goals twice (Saha and Benteke once each)
- Scored 20 to 25 goals three times (no one)
- Scored over 25 goals three times (no one)
But things have changed for with the defeat instead of jeering their own team, which had been the habit of a minority of vocal Arsenal fans up to this point, Arsenal supporters were continuing to chant Mikel Arteta’s name as a show of commitment.
And there have been a couple of distractions in relation to some of the results in recent times. In April 2017 for example Arsenal were heading for an FA Cup in 10 days time against Manchester City, which we won. The Palace game thus had less of a significance and although the 3-0 defeat was very disappointing indeed, the subsequent 2-1 victory over Manchester City stays longer in the memory.
A similar situation arose in April 2019 as Arsenal were heading for the Europa Cup final, and their hope of a top four finish in the League was long gone. The 2-3 home defeat was very frustrating, but thoughts still remained with the upcoming semi-final games against Valencia, which we won.
But underneath all this, watching Palace play Arsenal over the years gives rise to the thought that there is something about their style of play that is odd. Something which draws the opposition away from their normal game and which helps deliver the unexpected victory.
Vast amounts of commentary time and media space was taken up by Arsenal’s first three games last season with a league table that showed Arsenal likely to be relegated – probably far more than was taken up on the remaining 35 games which showed Arsenal as a top four club.
And little comment was made about Palace who after nine games last season had secured just one league victory. By 5 December they had played 15 and still won just three.
There is also little media mention of the fact that of their last nine league and cup games just three were won. Since then the club has spent £31m on new players making them the lowest spending team apart from
- Everton – £20m spent
- Brighton and Hove Albion – £18m spent
- Bournemouth £10m spent
- Leicester City – £0 spent
We’ll consider this Friday’s game further in the next article.
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