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Crystal Palace 1-3 Arsenal: 5 talking points as Gunners score twice in stoppage time to secure the win | Premier League 2020-21

Arsenal registered a crucial victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Wednesday
Arsenal registered a crucial victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Wednesday

Donning their new away kit, Arsenal left it late to secure a victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. The win narrowed the gap between Tottenham and Arsenal to a mere one point.

All eyes will now be on Sunday's fixtures that will determine which teams can play European football next season.

The visitors started the game strongly with Nicolas Pepe opening the scoring in the 35th minute. However, as time progressed, Crystal Palace grew more confident and Arsenal looked vulnerable at the back.

After the break, Christian Benteke's goal looked to be the turning point of the game as the Eagles tightened their defense and the Gunners hardly found any chances upfront.

Fortunately for Mikel Arteta's side, two extremely late goals from Gabriel Martinelli and Pepe enabled Arsenal to return to winning ways and continue their good form ahead of the final matchday.

Here are five talking points from Arsenal's victory over Crystal Palace.


#5 Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson given guard of honor

Roy Hodgson will leave the Eagles at the end of this season
Roy Hodgson will leave the Eagles at the end of this season

Roy Hodgson was given a Guard of Honor before managing his second-last Crystal Palace game. The 73-year-old announced on Tuesday that he would step down from his role as manager at the end of the season.

The Englishman replaced Frank De Boer in September 2017 on a two-year deal but went on to sign a contract extension in March 2020.

When Hodgson first joined the Eagles, he was given the near-impossible task of leading the side to survival in the Premier League. They were on a four-match losing streak under De Boer, and Hodgson's first three games were also marked by defeats. Eventually, the former England manager led the team to an 11th-placed finish.

Today Hodgson holds the record for being the oldest man to manage a Premier League game. Announcing his departure from the club, the manager said:

“It’s been really brewing for a long time. I had in the back of my mind that the right time to leave the club and maybe even to leave football for a while would be at the end of the season. I’m pleased that despite the speculation of the last two or three months, we’ve been able to keep things on a pretty even keel.”

#4 Bernd Leno saves Arsenal from further blushes

Bernd Leno denied the home team from extending their lead
Bernd Leno denied the home team from extending their lead

Compared to Arsenal's six shots (three of them on target), Crystal Palace looked more dangerous in the attack as they managed twice the number of shots (12 shots with six on target).

Leno was clearly the busier of the two keepers. And despite conceding, the German international did considerably well to prevent Jordan Ayew and Wilfried Zaha from scoring in the second half.

With reports claiming that Leno could be one of the senior players to leave the Arsenal squad this summer, the 29-year-old's future at the Emirates Stadium has been thrown into doubt. Before the clash against Crystal Palace, the keeper said:

“I still have a two-year contract and hope to play in the Champions League again with Arsenal. It is also clear that at some point in my career I want to do something different."

#3 Crystal Palace players get lucky with VAR

Christian Benteke leveled the scoreline in the 62nd minute
Christian Benteke leveled the scoreline in the 62nd minute

At least two Crystal Palace players could have been sent off for reckless challenges on Arsenal players in the first 45 minutes. But the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) dismissed claims of possible violent conduct much to the annoyance of the Gunners.

Replays showed that Christian Benteke reacted physically to a comment made by Mohamed Elneny. But instead of issuing a red to the Belgian international, Anthony Taylor decided to give both players a yellow.

Paul Merson said on Sky Sports:

"He'd have got thrown out of a night club for that."

Rubbing salt on Arsenal's wounds, Benteke scored the equalizer for Crystal Palace in the 62nd minute and it looked almost as if they would be coming away with a point.


#2 Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pepe make a difference to the Arsenal team

Nicolas Pepe netted a brace against Crystal Palace
Nicolas Pepe netted a brace against Crystal Palace

With Crystal Palace and Arsenal looking destined to share points, Martinelli, who came on in the 78th minute, scored a crucial goal to restore the Gunners' lead in the game.

Unmarked near the far corner of the goal, the Brazilian youngster received a great ball from Martin Odegaard and looped it over Vicente Guaita.

Minutes later, Pepe netted his second goal against the Eagles to ensure that Arsenal return to North London with all three points.

While Mikel Arteta's side did not look totally convincing in the full 90 minutes, individual brilliance from Martinelli and Pepe proved to be the decision-maker in this London derby. Without the duo, Arsenal might have lost the game to Crystal Palace.


#1 Arsenal make last-minute push for European football

Arsenal will play Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday
Arsenal will play Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday

Tottenham's loss to Aston Villa earlier in the day gave Arsenal hopes of catching up with their arch-rivals.

For the final match of the season, the Gunners take on Brighton and Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium while Spurs will face a tough test against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. At the same time, Everton will travel to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City.

Arsenal still have a slim chance of qualifying for next season's Europa League, provided that the Toffees and Tottenham both lose their last game of the season and the Gunners beat the Saints.

Given that Arteta's side are on a four-match winning streak in the Premier League, they do not appear to be giving up at any moment and still stand a chance of playing European football next season.

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Edited by Sankalp Srivastava
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