Arsenal 2-2 Crystal Palace: 3 reasons why the Gunners only managed a draw | Premier League 2019/20
Arsenal and Crystal Palace engaged themselves in an entertaining 2-2 stalemate which was glittered with its fair share of controversy. The draw meant that the Gunners remained four points off the UEFA Champions League places with the Eagles just one behind them.
The hosts started the game well and immediately dominated possession. They moved the ball around confidently and garnered a string of set-pieces. Consequently, the Gunners capitalised on a corner from the right flank when Sokratis Papastathopoulos reacted quickest to Granit Xhaka’s knockdown in the penalty area to score the opener.
A minute later, David Luiz doubled Arsenal's advantage with a smart finish of his own, an opportunity that was created by another Nicolas Pepe corner from the right wing.
However, just after the half-hour mark, Calum Chambers tripped Wilfred Zaha in the box. Though Martin Atkinson initially booked the latter for simulation, he reversed his decision after the intervention of VAR. Luka Milivojevic converted the resulting spot kick to half the deficit.
After the restart, the Eagles raced off the blocks and were rewarded for their perseverance seven minutes into the second period. Jordan Ayew got on the end of an exquisite James McArthur cross to restore parity and set up a titanic finish.
Moments before the full time whistle, Sokratis rippled the net, thereby sending the Emirates into delirium. Arsenal's ecstasy was shortlived though as VAR overturned the goal for a foul committed by Chambers in the build-up.
That final bit of drama adorned a game that had alternated between the manic and the serene with the former reigning supreme at the end.
Here is a look at three reasons why the Gunners could only manage a point against Palace.
#3 Crystal Palace uncharacteristically unravel from set-pieces
Over the past couple of seasons, Crystal Palace have strengthened their reputation as a team capable of withstanding physical pressure and coming up trumps. Subsequently, they’ve been extremely good at defending set-pieces and making the most of them at the other end.
However, on Sunday, they uncharacteristically went to sleep frequently when the Gunners whipped in set-pieces and shipped two avoidable goals in the process.
The opener came about when Wayne Hennessey was guilty of flapping at a corner. The goalkeeper ended up in no man’s land and the ball floated high in the air. Xhaka rose highest to nod the ball down for Sokratis, who controlled it with his first touch before unleashing a controlled finish past Patrick van Aanholt guarding the front post.
In the space of a minute, Luiz exploited the visitors’ slack defending when he was accorded the freedom of the six-yard box to bulge the net. The Brazilian got in behind his marker and his run dovetailed excellently with Alexandre Lacazette’s flick at the near post.
Palace very nearly conceded another from a corner when Sokratis scored deep into the game. However, VAR came to the Eagles’ aid to deny the hosts a late winner.
Apart from those set-pieces and one half chance for Lacazette in the first half, Arsenal barely created anything of note and that particular aspect might make Palace rue their catastrophic defending a tad more.
Had they not given away a couple of cheap goals, Roy Hodgson's side could’ve just left North London with three points firmly tucked in their kitty.