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Gunners suffer key injury blows and thumping at Palace as top four hopes dented

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4th April, 2022
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Crystal Palace have blown Arsenal away with a comprehensive 3-0 Premier League victory to dent the visitors’ top-four hopes and continue their own momentum under boss Patrick Vieira.

Results over the weekend had seen the Gunners leapfrogged by London rivals Tottenham in the race for Champions League qualification and they were unable to respond on a Monday night to forget for Mikel Arteta’s men.

Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew put the Eagles in control after 24 minutes and Wilfried Zaha’s second-half penalty added deserved gloss to the score for the hosts, who extended their unbeaten run to seven matches in all competitions and moved up to ninth in the table.

Arsenal had dropped down to fifth after Spurs’ win over Newcastle on Sunday, and chances remained few and far between at Selhurst Park initially before the deadlock was broken with the first threatening attack after 16 minutes.

A free-kick by Gallagher found Joachim Andersen at the far post, who directed the ball across goal for Mateta to head in from close range for his sixth goal of the campaign.

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The home supporters were still revelling in Mateta’s latest kick of the corner flag celebration when they were on their feet again eight minutes later.

Andersen produced a trademark crossfield pass from the back and Ayew was able to control the ball before he bent his shot around goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and into the bottom corner.

A late Gabriel header was all Arsenal had to show for a below-par first 45 minutes and Arteta had seen enough with Gabriel Martinelli introduced in place of Nuno Tavares at halftime.

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Arsenal improved after the break with Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard both blowing good chances to pull one back.

They were made to pay when Zaha, who had wanted to move to Emirates Stadium in the summer of 2019, put the game to bed in the 74th minute.

After he won the ball near the halfway line, the Ivory Coast attacker dribbled past Gabriel and was clipped by Norwegian Odegaard in the area.

Referee Paul Tierney pointed to the penalty spot and Zaha did the rest to fire home his 11th goal of the season.

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There was still time for Marc Guehi to make a stunning block on the line to deny Smith Rowe before Edward Nketiah hit the woodwork but it was Palace’s night with ex-Arsenal captain Vieira damaging his old club’s hopes of Champions League qualification.

Arsenal lost Scotland fullback Kieran Tierney to injury ahead of kick off and Ghana midfielder Thomas Partey, well below par during the time he was on the pitch, in the second half.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta apologised for his side’s performance.

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“It is time to accept the criticism, put your hand up and apologise because this performance was not good enough for this club, but then react,” Arteta said.

“From the beginning we were not at the races. When you come here you have to compete, you have to win duels and second balls and be aggressive and we were none of those.”

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