Arsenal 2-2 Crystal Palace
Former Arsenal legend and now Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira dropped to the floor in disbelief as Alexandre Lacazette stroked home a crucial equaliser to deny Vieira victory on his return to the Emirates.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got the hosts off to the perfect start before strikes from Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard looked to have sealed victory for Vieira’s men. But as the fans poured out of the stadium they were forced to turn back after Lacazette bundled home a last-gasp equaliser.
The result extends Arsenal’s unbeaten run and will give Palace fans plenty of encouragement going forward after their side’s performance, however both sides remain planted in mid-table.
A chorus of chants and warm shows of affection rang out around the Emirates as Vieira walked out to the dugout, but his homecoming reception was short-lived as Arsenal started the game in rampant fashion. Arsenal’s front line harassed the Palace backline tirelessly and were rewarded in the eighth minute when captain Aubameyang put the Gunners ahead.
The Palace fans cheered ironically as Martin Odegaard’s corner flew high over the length of the box but immediately fell silent as soon as Nicolas Pepe kept the ball in play and exchanged neatly with Takehira Tomiyasu on the edge of the box. Pepe proceeded to drive into the box saw his left-footed strike parried away by Guiata who inadvertently gifted the ball into Aubameyang’s path at the back post to tap home and give the hosts the lead.
Coming into the game, no side in the league had conceded more first-half goals than Arsenal and Mikel Arteta would’ve urged to his side the importance of going into half-time ahead. But as the half wore on their backline began to look weary with Palace committing many men forward in attack.
Tempers flared towards the end of the half as Bukayo Saka was hacked down by a fierce James McCarthur boot to the calf. The fans leapt out of their seats to the aid of their prized golden boy and McCarthur escaped with a yellow card, but judging by the home crowd’s reaction they felt it should’ve been more than that.
Vieira would’ve been pleased with his side’s work up until this point and would’ve believed they deserved to go into half-time at least level – if not ahead. Moments before the half-time whistle was blown, they nearly found a breakthrough via Conor Gallagher’s w instinctive volley which was destined for the top corner until Ramsdale heroically scampered across his goal to claw the ball away.
However, the Gunners’ lead ultimately didn’t last for much longer as five more minutes into the second half, before Vieira’s invigorated men capitalised on a Thomas Partey mistake to equalise.
Partey took too long on the ball inside Arsenal’s half and was dispossessed by fellow Ghanaian Jordan Ayew whose tackle led to Benteke, the striker skipped past a defender and drove the ball low beyond Ramsdale to fire the away fans into mayhem.
Alexandre Lacazette was introduced much to crowd’s delight and almost made an immediate impact after smart link-up play with Aubameyang, but Guiata was equal to his curling effort and made a crucial save to keep the game in the balance.
Moments later, Sambi Lokonga was caught in possession and the attacking trio of Edouard, Gallagher and Olise combined and drove into the penalty box before Eduoard thundered home an emphatic strike in off the crossbar to take the lead with 15 minutes remaining.
Just as the fans started to head for the exits, Arsenal almost levelled when Lacazette flicked on a cross to Kieran Tierney, the Scotsman was in acres of space and took his time before firing the ball onto the crossbar.
This looked to be the last meaningful attack, before the ball pinballed around the Palace box in the final moments of the game and landed to Lacazette who dispatched with aplomb to save the Gunners from an embarrassing defeat.
Arsenal: Ramsdale 6, White 6, Gabriel 5, Tomiyasu 5, Tierney 5, Partey 5 (Martinelli 6) , Odegaard 5 (Lacazette 8), Smith Rowe 7, Pepe 5, Saka 6 (Sambi Lokonga 5), Aubameyang 7.
Crystal Palace: Guaita 6, Guehi 6, Andersen 5, Ward 5, Mitchell 7, McArthur 6, Milivojevic 5 (Kouyate 6), Gallagher 7, Ayew 7 (Olise 6) , Benteke 8, Edouard 8 (Tomkins 5).
Ref: Mike Dean (5)