Crystal Palace vs Arsenal: 3 Talking Points as Gunners drop points | Premier League 2019-20
The Gunners earned the lead after some fantastic spectacular link-up play that concluded with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's effortless finish in the first half but the Eagles found the equaliser shortly after the break courtesy of Jordan Ayew's deflected strike.
The north London giants walked into the game with new-found confidence after showing compelling signs of improvement under new manager Mikel Arteta. They established a 2-0 victory over Manchester United in a Premier League clash at the Emirates last time out and followed it up with a 1-0 win over Leeds United in the FA Cup.
Meanwhile, the south Londoners were held to a 1-1 draw at Norwich City on New Year's Day before facing defeat at the hands of Derby County in the FA Cup last weekend.
As it stands, Arsenal remain at tenth place on the Premier League table while Crystal Palace sit a point above them at ninth. Without further ado, we take a look at three talking points from the eventful encounter between the two London clubs:
1. VAR takes the spotlight once again
Football's newest and most controversial technology once again takes centre-stage at Selhurst Park as an imperative decision saw Arsenal not only reduced to ten men but also lose all the control they previously had on the game.
Aubameyang, who gave the Gunners a deserved lead in the first half, was initially shown a yellow card for an ill-timed lunge on Max Meyer down the left flank but the decision was overturned by VAR after a perilous check determined that the challenge was worthy of a red card.
The send-off made the Gabon international only the third Arsenal player to score and be sent off in the same Premier League game, with Arteta himself having experienced the same against the Eagles back in 2013.
The incident may also be considered quite ironic as home supporters at the stadium initially held up banners demanding the removal of VAR only for the technology to turn the game in their favour towards the end.
2. Aubameyang comes back to haunt Crystal Palace
Pierre-Emerick Aubamenyang was bound to be the difference-maker against Crystal Palace but nobody could have predicted it would be in two contrasting ways.
The 30-year-old striker converted an 18-pass exercise into an effortless goal with a swift finish to bag his third goal in four Premier League meetings against the Eagles.
The goal further marked his ninth away goal for the north London giants this season, proving just how decisive a figure he is within their set-up. The only other players to have found the back of the net away from the Emirates are Gabriel Martinelli, Nicolas Pepe, and Lucas Torreira with one goal each.
Aubameyang's splendid afternoon was, however, short-lived as he was sent off for a nasty challenge on Max Meyer after the break. His absence from the pitch resulted in prolonged improvisation from his teammates and completely changed the rhythm of their attacking movements.
Both sides ultimately failed to collect all three points but won't be too unhappy with a point, leaving Arteta with only one major concern- the loss of his elite marksman for three games.
3. Arsenal face test of resilience under Mikel Arteta
Arsenal's rebuild under Mikel Arteta cannot be disputed with the Spaniard's definitive work within the squad looking fairly obvious, particularly in the attacking department.
The former Gunners skipper assembled a clear attacking network at Selhurst Park with Sead Kolasinac and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang charging from the left wing and half-space respectively; while Nicolas Pepe and Mesut Ozil did the same on the right with Alexandre Lacazette at the centre of it all.
This machine ran as planned throughout the first half as the visitors exploited spaces by bossing possession and getting themselves involved in beautiful link-up plays. The opening goal serves as the perfect example of the unit at work as they used ball possession to their advantage and opened up the Eagles defence. The movement ended with Lacazette gliding a through-ball into the box for Aubameyang to bury into the back of the net.
The momentum drastically changed after the break with a messy equaliser from Jordan Ayew and Aubameyang's red card emerging as the key game-changing incidents. The visitors were stretched thin as Palace began getting used to the numerical advantage at hand, with the panicking defenders latching at straws to keep them at bay.
At the end of the day, the Gunners narrowly managed to stem the tide and the game proved to be a realistic assessment of their resilience and improvement under Arteta as well as a glaring testament of all the work that still needs to be done.