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Arsenal’s top four hopes rocked by Crystal Palace – 5 talking points

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Crystal Palace 3-0 Arsenal: Eagles ensure the top four race took another twist as they beat the Champions League hopefuls at Selhurst Park with Wilfried Zaha getting in on the

Arsenal missed out on the chance to jump back into the top four as their Champions League ambitions were dented by Crystal Palace.

The Eagles saw off their London rivals at Selhurst Park as two first-half goals set them on their way to three points. Patrick Vieira’s side had been cruelly denied on their visit to the Emirates earlier this season as a last minute equaliser forced them to settle for a point. This time though they were not to be thwarted as they did Tottenham a major favour.

Antonio Conte’s side leapfrogged Arsenal into fourth on Sunday but were relying on the Gunners slipping up. They got their wish as Jean-Philippe Mateta set the hosts on their way before Jordan Ayew doubled their lead shortly after. Arsenal struggled to find a response in the second-half before Wilfried Zaha won and converted a penalty to make the game safe.

Here are five talking points from Selhurst Park.

Jean-Philippe Mateta opened the scoring at Selhurst Park

Jean-Philippe Mateta opened the scoring at Selhurst Park

1. Top four twist

Arsenal were looking pretty but now they are making things difficult for themselves. Heading into the Palace clash they were level on points with Tottenham but had two games in hand. A north London derby looms and could yet prove crucial in deciding who gets Champions League football.

Conte’s side have won five of their last six and appear to be on a roll whilst Arteta’s young team lost for the second time in three outings following the reverse against Liverpool recently. The Gunners have, for the most part, put together an impressive winning run over the past few months. Manchester United’s draw at the weekend means the race for fourth now looks to be solely a north London affair, which further magnifies Monday’s defeat. this interview be more adorable? Ruben Dias gets quizzed at Expo 2020 Dubai! – This video will start in0:09

2. Mateta proves his worth

The French forward came up with the game’s opener and continues to prove why Vieira is picking him ahead of Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard. The former has often been utilised as the main striking option for the Eagles whilst Edouard joined from Celtic in the summer with a big reputation.

Mateta, a loan signing last term who became permanent back in January, showed his predatory instinct to finish from close range early on however. Arsenal have only conceded five times from set pieces this term but the Palace forward was quickest to react to a second ball and was named Man of the Match.

3. Defensive woes force switch

Much is made about the partnership between Ben White and Gabriel at the heart of Arsenal’s back four, but the Brazilian has been criticised for his role in both goals that hit the back of the Gunners’ net. His intercept gamble for Ayew’s goal was one that did not pay off and allowed the Ghanaian to strike.

At left-back Nuno Tavares filled in for the ever consistent Kieran Tierney and was also at fault for the goal that double Palace’s lead. The Portuguese youngster was targeted throughout the opening 45 by the Eagles as they continued to attack down their right-hand side as the Arsenal man struggled to assert himself defensively before he was hooked at half-time.

4. An unwanted blueprint

As said by Jamie Carragher on commentary – “there is a way to lose”. Arsenal were never going to pick up maximum points from now until the end of the season, but the manner of their latest reverse may well see alarm bells ring as Palace were able to dominate and bully the Gunners.

Tottenham and United still have to face Arteta’s young Arsenal side and may look to employ similar tactics to the Eagles, who were able to stamp their authority of the contest from minute one with the visitors offering little in response. The narrative previously has often been that Arsenal can be got at – such was the success of teams like Stoke City in the past – and sides may again feel they target them in a similar way.

Wilfred Zaha made it 3-0 from the spot

Wilfred Zaha made it 3-0 from the spot

Much is made of a two-goal lead being anything but safe. One goal for the opposition and suddenly a sense of nervousness hits the side in the lead – but against Arsenal a 2-0 advantage often pays dividends. Arteta knew he had a big team talk on his hands when he walked into the away dressing room.

He was tasked with masterminding a winning comeback that would’ve seen the Gunners recover from a 2-0 deficit to win for the first time in 14 years. It was Arsene Wenger who was able to galvanise his team back in March 2008 when they were losing at Bolton. Two first-half goals for the hosts were overturned by William Gallas, Robin van Persie before Jlloyd Samuel put through his own net in stoppage time.

Arsenal were unable to find any answers in the second 45 as their 14 year wait for a miraculous comeback goes on with Zaha compounding their night when he made it 3-0 with 15 minutes left.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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