Battling Palace undone by professional Arsenal display
After the events of the past week, many had Crystal Palace down for a whipping against the Premier League leaders Arsenal.
However, it did not turn out that way, although the 10-man Gunners would return north of the Thames with all three points after a 2-0 win.
With Keith Millen in temporary charge at Selhurst Park, the Eagles put in the battling display that was so sorely missing on Monday when Fulham came to town.
But a Mikel Arteta penalty in the first moments of the second half settled Arsenal nerves, and Olivier Giroud made sure in the dying moments for a professional-looking scoreline.
Millen made six changes to Ian Holloway’s last team selection with Danny Gabbidon, Adelene Guedioura, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Maroune Chamakh, Jerome Thomas and Barry Bannan all drafted in.
Adrian Mariappa, Yannick Bolasie, Stuart O’Keefe, Jason Puncheon and Dwight Gayle were all on the bench, while Jose Campana was dropped completely.
Arsenal dominated the early exchanges, although their possession was rarely turned into chances with only an Olivier Giroud header over the bar to their name.
Palace slowly got a foothold in the game, and by the break they were giving as good as they got with Mile Jedinak and Chamakh both testing Wojciech Szczesny from range.
The restart promised much, but Arsenal sub Serge Gnabry’s trickery fooled Guedioura into a foul in the box, and Arteta dispatched the spot-kick.
The Spaniard would see red 25 minutes later after his challenge as the last man upended Chamakh, and despite his protestations, referee Foy sent him for an early bath.
Buoyed by a partisan crowd, Palace conjured two fine efforts to get level – Joel Ward, improving all the time – rattled the cross bar, and Jedinak forced Szczesny into an excellent one-handed save from an equally excellent volley.
However, the nail in the coffin came in the 88th minute, when Aaron Ramey’s dinked ball into the area was perfect for Giroud to run onto and nod past Julian Speroni.
At the final whistle, the Palace fans sang: “Palace, we love you” – what a difference a few days and a battling performance can make.
Reaction to follow.
Team: Speroni, Ward, Dikgacoi, Thomas (Bolasie), Jedinak, Gabbidon, Moxey, Delaney, Chamakh, Guedioura (Kebe), Bannan (Gayle). Subs: Price, Mariappa, Bolasie, O’Keefe, Puncheon, Gayle, Kebe.
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