Crystal Palace 3-0 Arsenal: 3 talking points from horror night

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 04: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta looks dejected as he walks towards the away fans after the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on April 4, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 04: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta looks dejected as he walks towards the away fans after the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on April 4, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images) /
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Crystal Palace 3-0 Arsenal: 3 talking points from horror night as Gunners’ Premier League top four hopes suffer injury-hit blow. (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images) /

A sorry first half paved the way for Crystal Palace to brush aside Arsenal 3-0 in the Premier League. First-half goals from Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew gave the home side a solid foundation before a second-half Wilfried Zaha penalty put the game beyond doubt.

Mikel Arteta made one enforced change from the side that defeated Aston Villa 1-0 last time out with left-back Kieran Tierney out with a knee injury and Nuno Tavares replacing him. Nicolas Pepe also missed out through illness.

Palace started the far superior of the two sides, controlling possession and being pushed on by a raucous crowd, and it didn’t take long for the hosts to make their dominance count. Just 15 minutes into the game, a deep free-kick from Conor Gallagher ended with Mateta heading in from close range.

Jordan Ayew doubled the home side’s lead just minutes later after a great ball from Joachim Andersen found its way to the winger, who took a touch and hammered home his shot. A thoroughly commanding Crystal Palace went into the sheds two goals to the good.

Crystal Palace 3-0 Arsenal: 3 talking points from horror night as Gunners’ Premier League top four hopes suffer injury-hit blow

After a difficult first half, Tavares was replaced by Gabriel Martinelli as Arsenal looked to get a way back into the game.

It was a much better start to the half for the Gunners as they dominated possession but still couldn’t find a way through. Arsenal continued to pressure with Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard having great chances, yet neither could convert.

Palace made it 3-0 with a little over 15 minutes left after Odegaard clipped Zaha in the box. The winger stepped up and fired home his shot to end the game as a contest. To make matters worse, Thomas Partey suffered an injury in the build-up to the penalty award.

The match provided plenty of talking points, here they are.

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LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 04: Players of Arsenal look dejected after conceding their side’s first goal scored by Jean-Philippe Mateta of Crystal Palace (not pictured) during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on April 04, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) /

Goal Difference Matters

Something that Arsenal has been efficient at over the last two months is when the pressure is on to get a result and three points, they more often than not got them.

Not tonight.

With Tottenham crushing Newcastle the day before, Arsenal slipped below their north London rivals on goal difference. That was extended even further after events in south London, with the Premier League matchweek ending in a seven-goal swing in Spurs’ favour.

Their goal difference now sits at +15, with Arsenal’s on +10.

Heading into the game, a positive result would have seen the Gunners jump ahead of Spurs. Nonetheless, with a game in hand over Tottenham and level on points, Arsenal has their top-four destiny in their own hands, even if it feels like the sky is falling down.

Given the games that the club has in hand, it was imperative that they got three points tonight, but they were largely found wanting, especially in the first half. Up next is Brighton and anything less than a win will be unacceptable.

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