‘Fatigued’ Gunners labour to a bore draw against Crystal Palace
Arsenal's three-match Premier League winning run ended in a forgettable night at the Emirates Stadium
14 January, 2021 — By Steve Barnett
CRYSTAL PALACE 0
ARSENAL’S three-match winning run in the Premier League came to an end tonight (Thursday) as they were held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace following a forgettable encounter at the Emirates Stadium.
Mikel Arteta was quick to admit his side were lacking some much-needed zip after watching the away side create the best openings in a game where chances were few and far between.
“Some freshness and quality in the final third was missing. We had a lot of entries into the final third but no big, big chances,” said the Gunners boss.
“I wanted to see a win today and to score a few goals but we were fatigued. We gave the ball away, but I cannot fault the spirit. It wasn’t enough.”
Arsenal made eight changes from the FA Cup win over Newcastle last time out, reverting back to their more familiar starting line-up. There was one notable absentee, however, as Kieran Tierney missed out because of muscle soreness, giving Ainsley Maitland-Niles a rare start.
It’s hard to blame the lack of spark that followed on the absence of just one player, but without Tierney’s pinpoint crosses the Gunners were desperately lacking one of the few things that have worked for them this season.
Arteta was quick to acknowledge how losing the full-back hindered Arsenal’s chances. He said: “Kieran is a real threat and the way we attack on the left is really important, but he is injured and we have to find a solution. He will have an MRI scan tomorrow.”
The Gunners huffed and puffed their way around the pitch, but, with the exception of a dipping effort from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang midway through the first-half that was straight at the keeper, they created little that would have made the fans watching at home wish they were back inside the Emirates Stadium.
Instead it was former Arsenal schoolboy Eberechi Eze and Wilfried Zaha who provided the pomp for Palace, at least in the first 45 minutes. They combined well on the counter-attack and boasted the directness that the hosts were missing.
And unsurprisingly the pair played their part when Palace almost broke the deadlock on 38 minutes. Granit Xhaka found the easiest way to stop Zaha was to stomp on his foot, and from the resulting free-kick on the edge of the area Eze clipped a lovely ball right into the goalmouth.
James Tomkins got up above Rob Holding and David Luiz to meet it, only to see his header cannon back off the crossbar. It was a lucky escape for Arsenal.
Minutes later the visitors went close again. This time it was Tyrick Mitchell who whipped in the cross, which was met by Christian Benteke. His header across goal was creeping into the top corner, until Bernd Leno made a flying save to tip it away.
The game quickly petered out in the second-half as Arsenal got the one thing they deserved from the game: the new record of having failed to score against Palace in the league for the first time in the club’s history.
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Luiz, Maitland-Niles (Pepe, 65), Ceballos (Partey, 69), Xhaka, Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang, Lacazette (Nketiah, 81)
Substitutes not used: Runarsson, Gabriel, Willian, Cedric, Chambers, Willock
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Tomkins, Kouyate, Mitchell, Townsend, McArthur, Milivojevic (McCarthy, 89), Eze, Benteke (Ayew, 81), Zaha
Substitutes not used: Butland, Van Aanholt, Dann, Clyne, Batshuayi, Cahill, Riedewald