Arsenal scrapped and fought for the narrowest of wins on Monday night at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace. A pair of controversial penalty calls proved the differential on the night. The referee awarded one to Arsenal, which it converted. Crystal Palace’s claims fell on deaf ears. That tight margin led to a win for the Gunners by a score of 1-0.
Despite the loss, Crystal Palace put out a strong performance. Eberechi Eze, Jordan Ayew and the rest of the Crystal Palace attack were free flowing. However, it never got past a strong wall in the Arsenal defense. Two of the better opportunities in the first half fell to Palace. Ben White desperately blocked Odsonne Edouard’s shot from close in.
The two best chances of the night fell to the visitors. Eddie Nketiah hit the post after a strong solo effort. Even though he guided the ball beyond Sam Johnstone, the ball hit the upright of the Crystal Palace net and went aside. Then, Nketiah had another strong opportunity following a delicious pass from Declan Rice. However, Nketiah dinked the ball over Johnstone and the net from just five yards away. Consequently, the game entered the intermission scoreless.
10-man Arsenal survives push from Crystal Palace
Early in the second half, Arsenal earned a penalty following another smart run from Nketiah. The striker acted first on a free kick that Martinelli played fast. Johnstone, reacting as quick as he could, came out to meet the striker. However, Nketiah knocked the ball away, and Johnstone barely slid into the striker. Martin Odegaard stepped up and coolly slid the spot kick home.
Takehiro Tomiyasu, Arsenal’s starting left back, was the next key talking point. He picked up a yellow card after a delayed throw-in as part of the Premier League cracking down on time-wasting. Seven minutes later, a fairly weak challenge by Tomiyasu earned him a second yellow card. While there was nothing malicious in the foul itself, referee David Coote ruled the play had potential for a goal. The second yellow card sent Tomiyasu off despite conversation over whether there was even a foul committed.
Crystal Palace thought its luck continued to turn five minutes after Arsenal’s reduction. Eberechi Eze went on a mazy run through the Arsenal defense before collapsing in the box. Declan Rice and Thomas Partey both had their legs swinging around Eze. There looked to have been contact. This time, Coote ruled there was not enough for a penalty.
After that, Palace did not have any clear-cut chances. Arsenal sat back and welcomed the pressure. Mikel Arteta’s side held on for three points in a traditionally challenging road trip for any Premier League side.
PHOTO: IMAGO / PA Images
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