July 20, 2024

Ten-men Arsenal Cling On For Slender Crystal Palace Victory

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Arsenal’s full-time celebrations were that of a team forced to put in a monumental defensive effort.

FILE PHOTO: Jorginho and Kai Havertz celebrates after Arsenal hold onto 1-0 lead against Crystal Palace. PICTURE: Getty Images

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LONDON: Palace tried to capitalise on the counter and gave Aaron Ramsdale something to think about in the 15th minute.

Arsenal made it two wins from two in the 2023-24 Premier League season in nail-biting fashion as they edged past Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park.

A confident penalty from Martin Odegaard proved decisive, but the visitors had to weather an Eagles onslaught in the final 30 minutes after Takehiro Tomiyasu was controversially sent off.

For the second game running, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta made the bold call to keep Gabriel Magalhaes on the bench, as Tomiyasu replaced the injured Jurrien Timber on the left-hand side.

The Gunners dominated possession as expected, but a well-drilled Palace side initially kept Arteta’s men at bay with relative ease, as Arsenal strung several passes together around the penalty area without finding that killer ball.

Palace tried to capitalise on the counter and gave Aaron Ramsdale something to think about in the 15th minute, as the Englishman sprung to palm a Jordan Ayew cross out to the edge of the box, where neither Eberechi Eze nor Cheick Doucoure could get a shot away before Odegaard stole in.

Barely a minute later, Eze forced a comfortable save from Ramsdale during a positive spell from Palace, but Arsenal belatedly began to carve out some openings for Eddie Nketiah, who squandered two gilt-edged chances to send the Gunners ahead.

With 29 minutes gone, the 24-year-old clipped the post on the stretch after being slipped through by Saka, and he was found in a similar area on the right-hand side of the box by Rice seven minutes later, but his attempted chip sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.

Odegaard had a crack from distance in the 42nd minute, but Sam Johnstone tipped the Norwegian’s dipping effort over the bar to end the first half with a clean sheet, which was wiped out just eight minutes into the second period.

A quick free kick from Gabriel Martinelli to Nketiah caught Palace out, and the Englishman prodded the ball beyond Johnstone before being wiped out by the Eagles goalkeeper, who was calmly sent the wrong way by a stuttering Odegaard from the spot.

Arteta’s men were largely comfortable following Odegaard’s opener, but they suddenly went down to 10 men in contentious circumstances in the 68th minute, as Tomiyasu – who had been booked for taking too long over a throw-in – stopped Ayew racing away on the counter and was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Replays showed very minimal contact between Tomiyasu and Ayew, but the Japanese defender did himself no favours by picking up a needless yellow card for time-wasting, and Arteta hastily shored up his backline by bringing on Gabriel for a vexed Martinelli.

Unsurprisingly, Tomiyasu’s dismissal breathed new life into Palace, who screamed for a penalty of their own in the 72nd minute when Eze went over Thomas Partey’s trailing leg, but the officials waved away their appeals.

The hosts threw the kitchen sink at the 10 men of Arsenal – who had every player behind the ball – in the dying embers, and Odsonne Edouard was found by a terrific Mitchell delivery in the 86th minute, but the former Celtic man could not adjust his body in time and the ball struck his chest before trickling wide.

Mitchell continued to lead the Palace charge in the seven-minute injury-time period, and the left-back had the hosts’ best chance for a last-gasp equaliser in the final moments, but his volley from a tight angle flew over the crossbar.

Arsenal’s full-time celebrations were that of a team forced to put in a monumental defensive effort, and the Gunners now aim to maintain their perfect start in another London derby with Fulham on Saturday, while Palace travel to fellow capital rivals Brentford in five days’ time.

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