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Arsenal 2-3 Crystal Palace – Emery schooled by Grandpa Roy as Gunners trip in Top 4 chase [Review + Player Ratings]

Arsenal 2-3 Crystal Palace

Premier League Review

 

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Our top four hopes have been dented, and in some ways shattered.

Roy Hodgson has proven he’s no dead/joke manager since his game plan worked a treat.

And despite Manchester United and Spurs losing, we couldn’t capitalise on their failures. We failed just as much.

This was a major factor, and for a man who was derided for losing to Iceland in the Euros, he won the game for Palace here.

The overall flow of the game was that we commenced pretty slowly. We had some chances via Lacazette, but Palace defended deeply and progressed the ball well.

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They got in behind us a few times, and this paid when from a set-piece, Benteke opened the scoring.

The first-half saw a pattern of Palace defending deeply, progressing the ball well, and us being disjointed in the attack.

The second half saw us make changes, with Iwobi and Maitland-Niles adding more attacking impetus. Ozil scored via a cute working on the left, and poked in from a tight angle. We did start the half well, and were quicker, pressing more rapidly, and showing more urgency and capacity in the final third.

However, Mustafi created another mishap, and we conceded a third through weak marking.

Auba did well to recover a lost run and score – and is still in contention for the Golden Boot. However, it was too little to affect the result, and Palace got an unexpected win at our place. The last time they did this was in 1994 when ironically an ex-Palace player got his 100th goal for us. But then like now it wasn’t the Wright (Wright Wright) result from an Arsenal standpoint.

Palace is safe for this season, but then our top four hopes have been dented. They aren’t terminally stunted, but we have to work harder to get in next season’s Champions League.

 

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I feel we lost this game for several prime reasons:

Hodgson’s game plan

As mentioned prior, Hodgson had a specific game plan. He knew that our defence is still weak, and he got his side to defend in packs, and stifle our midfield passing.

His forwards then hit space in our defence, and this allowed them to get their goals.

We didn’t really counter this well in the first half, and we lacked the runners and forward play to defeat this.

This was a major factor, and for a man who was derided for losing to Iceland in the Euros, he won the game for Palace here.

Our attackers lacked verve and creativity

Auba, Laca and Ozil, in part due to Palace’s game plan, didn’t really penetrate them well enough. Auba did score, granted, but then in the first-half, he was muted. Lacazette fashioned some chances, but then overall we lacked attacking drive.

We also played into Palace’s game plan, and lacked some good width. Kolasinac and Jenkinson didn’t capitalise and get behind their defence enough, which allowed Palace to defend deep. In short, we were way too narrow.

Slow passing in midfield

Guendouzi and Elneny were not passing well enough in the midfield, and overall they were outfought and not incisive enough. Guendouzi is the more progressive of the two, but for me, he’s not a playmaker. He is a good box to box mid, but then doesn’t have the drive or mix to move the ball forward.

Bad defensive positioning

 

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The second and third goals we conceded were due to weak defending. Actually, all three goals were.

The first from Benteke was due to poor marking. He wasn’t tracked well enough, and managed to poke it past Leno.

The second was a poor error from Mustafi (I’ll reference him later…)

Zaha capitalised on some hesitation from Mustafi, and managed to slot in under Leno.

The third was poor marking from a set-piece, with MacArthur getting in past Leno again.

Our old bete noire of a crap defence cost us here again, and potentially could cost us top four.

Tiredness

Were we tired, from the Napoli and Watford games? Possibly. But we did rotate, and we also looked lax and limp in our attacking play.

It’s possible that tiredness is a factor, though we should have had enough to beat Palace here.

Emery got it wrong tactically

Emery has done well for us, and won several games via strong tactics.

However, today, his tactics were weak.

Guendouzi and Elneny isn’t a viable partnership since the balance was off. A good midfield must not have just capable players, but there must be a balance between creativity, fight, positioning, and tenacity. Guendouzi and Elneny bring good passing and energy, but not much fight apparent.

I feel our ideal midfield balance is Torreira and Guendouzi, or Xhaka and Torreira, since they have a strong balance of the optimal midfield traits.

This game though was a poor selection from Emery.

Bringing on Iwobi and Maitland-Niles helped a lot, as we did equalise readily via Ozil.

But ultimately, our below-par midfield play, amongst other areas, cost us here.

Individual errors (, i.e. MUSTAFI)

 

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What more can be said about him?

He’s clearly not the level. It’s plain, simple, and self-evident.

However, I feel and believe he has the technical skills, but not the mental skills to be a truly top level player. All players make mistakes, but his mistakes are way too regular occurrences.

Yes, we didn’t play well at all, but then to permit Zaha to ghost in and score was off. VERY off.

This doesn’t ameliorate our collectively weak play.

But then Emery must take note and see that Mustafi is not a defender who can take us forward. His time at the club must come to an end, and soon.

 

This was a bad day at the office – but then we can rectify it vs. Wolves.

 

Leno – 8

Jenkinson – 4

Mustafi – 2

Koscielny – 6

Mavropanos – 4

Elneny – 5

Guendouzi – 6

Ozil – 7

Lacazette – 6

Aubameyang – 6

Kolasinac – 4

Iwobi – 7

Maitland-Niles – 6

Torreira – 5

Emery – 4 – weak team selection, and whilst there was a need for rotation, I believe he got it wrong today. This, with our weak final third play, and Hodgson’s game plan, cost us the game.

Man of the match

Leno

 

Leno

 

He made some telling saves in the first half, and without them, we would have lost by a bigger margin.

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