Monthly Archives: March 2023

Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace: Eight Points Clear!!!

Saka shines as four-star Gunners go eight points clear | The Canberra Times  | Canberra, ACT

Match Report – Match Highlights – Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace (Martinelli 28′, Saka 43′, 74′, Xhaka 55′ | Schlupp 63′)

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): White (Jorginho 83′), Holding, Gabriel (Kiwior 86′), Zinchenko (Tierney 65′); Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli (Smith-Rowe 83′); Trossard (G. Jesus 65′)

Arsenal played 120 grueling minutes against Sporting CP and suffered heartache from losing the penalty shootouts against the Portuguese outfit but there was the important business of the Premier League with Crystal Palace, without their manager, Patrick Vieira, coming to town. Due to Manchester City’s involvement in the FA Cup quarterfinals, their Premier League clash with West Ham was cancelled, so Arsenal had the glorious chance of going eight points clear at the top with a win over the relegation threatened London neighbors.

To team selection, there were returns for Ben White with Takehiro Tomiyasu out injured, as well as Thomas Partey, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard. In attack, Leandro Trossard returned to lead the line ahead of Gabriel Jesus who’s still seeking to gain full fitness after such a long time out. 

The visitors almost had the lead early on when Jeffery Schlupp found Wilfried Zaha, and the Ivorian cut in before smashing a shot that clipped the post and hit Aaron Ramsdale before drifting agonizingly wide. Seeing that attempt reminded me of Arsenal’s late goal against Aston Villa, but Ramsdale is no Emi Martinez, I guess. 

Crystal Palace drew first blood when Odsonne Edouard was played through on goal with only Ramsdale to beat but Arsenal goalie made a smart save before Rob Holding, who retained his place following William Saliba’s injury absence, clearing the ball before Edouard could attempt a rebound. However, the linesman raised his flag for offside. With Crystal Palace’s main goalies, Vicente Guaita and Sam Johnstone, still injured, youngster, Joe Whitworth, had another shot between the sticks and he showed good reflexes to save a fierce shot from Odegaard after Saka’s cross was deflected to the Arsenal captain’s path. 

As expected, the combination of Odegaard, Saka and White were causing so much problems for Crystal Palace on the right, and it was no surprise when Arsenal’s opening goal arrived after some intricate play on that flank. White teed up Saka who showed good movement at the edge of the area before drilling the ball into the box. Gabriel Martinelli took the ball on the turn and blasted it home with his left foot to banish all ghosts of Thursday night. White, who was having a stormer on the right wing, cushioned another carefully-threaded ball to Odegaard that fired a fizzling shot that narrowly missed its intended target. 

Arsenal went two up before the break following some nice intricate attacking play which started with Granit Xhaka playing a sumptuous ball that narrowly evaded Trossard, but Saka picked up the pieces, executed a neat one-two with White, leaving Mitchell and Zaha for dead, before the Starboy curled his effort past Whitworth to send the Emirates to raptures. It was a goal Arsenal’s constant barrage of pressure deserved. 

After the break, Zaha fashioned another chance for himself and fired a shot from his trademark range but Ramsdale watched the ball sternly as it whistled past the post. Crystal Palace was made to rue that miss as Arsenal put the game beyond doubt when Trossard found Xhaka with a lovely through ball and the Swiss midfielder found a way to bundle the ball into the net as he clearly stumbled following some pressure from a Crystal Palace defender. That was Xhaka’s sixth goal this season, which is the highest he has achieved in his professional career in a single campaign. His previous personal best was five goals he scored while Borussia Monchengladbach colors some nine years ago. 

The visitors grabbed what turned out to be consolation goal when Michael Olise’s corner was well controlled and finished by Schlupp, who had the time to bring the ball under his stride before blasting past Ramsdale at point blank range. Shortly afterwards, Arteta sent in Tierney and Gabriel Jesus to freshen things up in the attacking third and the Gunners got their just rewards for the attacking tactical tweak later in the game. 

Schlupp gained some confidence from his strike and teed up Zaha with a good chance, but the winger, like the previous chances he had attempted, fired his effort wide. On the other end, Saka showed Zaha how its done with the Arsenal winger scoring the final goal of the tie close to the penalty box after receiving a smart pass from Tierney. This was Saka’s 13th strike of the season, surpassing his personal best of 12 he amassed in the last campaign, and with that goal, Saka also became the first player to have double figures for goals and assists this season, which has been talismanic if you ask me. 

Late on, there was time for Jakub Kiwior to have his Arsenal league debut, much to the appreciation of the fans and he showed good awareness to block a late chance for Crystal Palace, earning plaudits from his teammates. The ref’s whistle was like music to the ears of the Arsenal faithful, as Mikel Arteta’s men are taking closer steps to winning the Premier League, and sitting eight points clear at the top is quite comfortable, thank you very much.

Manchester City hosts Champions League qualification hopefuls, Liverpool, while Arsenal hosts Leeds United under the management of new coach, Gracia, that’s aiming to help them avoid relegation, so we should expect more drama in the coming weeks, but at the moment, we can only hope that the players go into the international break for their respective nations and return unscathed. 


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Crystal Palace Preview: Time to Go Eight Points Clear

3 Talking Points From Arsenal's 2-0 Victory Over Crystal Palace - Page 2

Martinelli celebrating against Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace visit the Emirates this afternoon shortly after the dismissal of their manager, and ex-Gunner, Patrick Vieira, following a dismal run of form that saw the club winless in 12 Premier League games. In that barren spell, Crystal Palace has amassed five points, four goals and 26 shots on target during that period are all the lowest in the Premier League in 2023. Crystal Palace in currently languishing in 12th place with 27 points, with a goal difference of -13, but surprisingly, the club is just three points ahead of West Ham in 18th place, and the Hammers have a goal difference of -10. Sandwiched in between them are Wolves (13th, -19 GD, 27 points), Leeds (14th, -9 GD, 26 points), Everton (15th, -18 GD, 26 points), Nottingham Forest (16th, -27 GD, 26 points) and Leicester (17th, -9 GD, 25 points). Even the other relegation candidates under West Ham, Bournemouth (19th, -29 GD, 24 points) and Southampton (20th, -23 GD, 23 points) are not far off from Crystal Palace, so the margins are really tight at the relegation zone.

Arsenal, on the other hand, sit pretty at the top of the Premier League, five points ahead of Manchester City, who progressed further in the FA Cup following the demolition of Burnley in Vincent Kompany’s homecoming, and with a win against Crystal Palace today, Arsenal can have an unassailable eight point lead, before heading into the final international break of the season. The Gunners are still licking their wounds from the penalty shootout heartache against Sporting CP, which sent them crashing out of the Europa League, so all focus remains on winning the remaining 11 games to earn the club’s first league title in 19 years.

Despite Crystal Palace’s shitty form, they have not been beaten at the Emirates on any of their past four visits, drawing three and winning one. However, Crystal Palace have only won two of their 22 league away fixtures against Arsenal: 2-1 at Highbury in October 1994 and 3-2 at Emirates Stadium in April 2019. That win at the Emirates proved costly, at it messed up the Gunners Champions League qualification plans under Unai Emery.

If the Gunners win Crystal Palace today, the club will equal last season’s final total of 69 points with 10 matches still to play. This shows the considerable amount of progress achieved this season, and the fans are hopeful that the Gunners go all the way to get the prized asset, the Premier League trophy. 

To team news, Arsenal suffered two casualties in the loss to Sporting CP with Takehiro Tomiyasu suffering a knee injury and was seen leaving the Emirates Stadium on crutches, which is never a good thing. While we still await the results of the scans of the knee, to know the extent of the injury, I highly doubt that we would see Tomiyasu again this season, which adds some measure of pressure with Ben White, being the only available right back for selection. William Saliba also had some discomfort on his back, and he’s likely to sit today’s game out, with Rob Holding taking his place in the first team. There is also the option of Jakub Kiwior, but I doubt if Arteta will be throwing him into the deep end. Hopefully, Saliba will be fit after the international break. Eddie Nketiah and Mo Elneny still remain unavailable for selection. 

Crystal Palace are still having a goalkeeping conundrum with Vicente Guaita still recovering from a hamstring injury and his backup option, Sam Johnstone, suffering from a calf problem. This would mean that the youngster, Joseph Whitworth, will have another run out in goal, and will be hoping to be protected by his defenders. Let’s just hope that the spirit of Antonio Adan has been vanquished from the Emirates, because the veteran Sporting CP goalie was the sole reason Arsenal isn’t playing Juventus in the quarterfinals of the Europa League. With Albert Sambi Lokonga currently on loan to Crystal Palace from Arsenal, he’s unavailable for selection. His fellow central midfield partners, Will Hughes and James McArthur are also doubts following bouts of illness.

Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Predicted Lineups

Arsenal: Ramsdale; White, Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard; Martinelli, G. Jesus, Saka.

Crystal Palace: Whitworth; Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Schlupp, Milivojevic, Doucoure; Zaha, Edouard, Olise

Injury / Suspension Updates

Arsenal: Mohamed Elneny (knee), Eddie Nketiah (ankle), Takehiro Tomiyasu (knee), William Saliba (back)

Crystal Palace: Vicente Guaita (hamstring), Sam Johnstone (calf), Will Hughes (illness), James McArthur (illness), Albert Sambi Lokonga (ineligible)

Form Guide

Arsenal Form

  • Last Five Games: W W D W D
  • Last Result: Arsenal 1-1 Sporting CP  (Xhaka 19′ | Goncalves 62′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Gabriel Martinelli (12)

Crystal Palace Form

  • Last Five Games:  D D L L L
  • Last Result: Brighton 1-0 Crystal Palace (March 15′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Wilfried Zaha (6)

Gooner Daily predicts a 3 – 0 victory.

Kick Off – 3.00pm (GMT +1) at Emirates Stadium.

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Arsenal 1-1 Sporting CP: Gunners Penalized on Penalties

Arsenal 1-1 Sporting CP (3-3 agg, 3-5 pens): Martinelli penalty heartache  ends Gunners' Europa League hopes

Antonio Adan was the hero of the night for Sporting CP

Match Report – Match Highlights – Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal 1-1 Sporting CP  (Xhaka 19′ | Goncalves 62′)

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; Tomiyasu (White 9′), Saliba (Holding 21′), Gabriel, Zinchenko; Jorginho (Partey 65′), Xhaka; Nelson (Saka 66′), F. Vieira (Odegaard 100′), Martinelli; G. Jesus (Trossard 46′)

Following the pulsating 2-2 draw at Lisbon, the stage was set for what was going to be a thriller, and Arsenal gaffer, Mikel Arteta, made some changes to the squad that ran riot against Fulham over the weekend. Takehiro Tomiyasu came in for Ben White in right back, Jorginho returned to the fray with Thomas Partey rested. In midfield, Fabio Vieira and Reiss Nelson got the nod ahead of Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka, while Gabriel Jesus made his first start in four months ahead of the hattrick of assists hero, Leandro Trossard.

The first notable highlight of the game was Tomiyasu leaving the pitch due to injury after he hyper-extended his knee in an attempted tackle on Francisco Trincao. It looked innocuous at the onset but after spending time with the physios, it was evident that his night was over. Sporting CP drew first blood when Trincao waltzed his way from the right and fashioned a chance for himself, curling a good effort that missed by a lick of paint. However, Arsenal scored the all-important match opener when Jorginho located Gabriel Martinelli with a peach of a pass. The Brazilian bore down on goal from the left like he did against Leicester, but his shot was parried by Antonio Adan in the Sporting CP goal. Captain of the night, Granit Xhaka, latched on the parried effort and smashed in a rebound that went past the goalie to the Sporting CP net. 

Arsenal’s joy from the goal was somewhat short-lived, as William Saliba had to be subbed for Rob Holding due to injury. Saliba has been immense all season long, so losing him now will be a very bitter pill to swallow. We hope it was precautionary as the defender was clearly in some discomfort and signaled to be substituted.

Arsenal had a chance to go two goals up when Gabriel Jesus showed great movement to evade his markers and fire a goal-bound shot, but Adan made a superb save on his near post. Late on, Sporting CP almost leveled the tie when Manuel Ugarte saw Aaron Ramsdale off his line, but his drilled effort ricocheted off a player to go wide. Based on recommendations from the medical team, or just a tactical switch, Arteta felt that Gabriel Jesus had run his race for the night and brought on Trossard as a half time sub.

Early in the second half, Sporting CP got the equalizer from one of the most audacious goals you’d ever see. Jorginho and Xhaka attempted a one-two in the center circle with Jorginho failing to connect with the loose ball from Xhaka. Paulinho, who wasn’t having any joy in Arsenal’s box, won the ball from Jorginho in the Arsenal half and passed it to Pedro Goncalves. The young Portuguese has already scored 16 goals this season and is full of confidence, but it still takes some stuffing to attempt what he did. See Ramsdale way off his line, Goncalves launched a fantastic lofted surface-to-goal piledriver that floated in the air before dipping under the cross bar to hit the back of the net.


It’s the kind of goal that gets nominated for a Puskas Award, and sadly, Arsenal were on the receiving end of it.

The home side’s confidence was rattled by conceding such a goal, Sporting CP had the wind in their sails, with Paulinho guiding his header from a corner kick over the cross bar. With Sporting CP clearly on the ascendancy, Arteta looked to gain a stronghold of the game and brought on the duo of Saka and Partey. As expected, Partey brought stability to the middle of the park while Saka became a thorn in the flesh of the Sporting CP defenders. 

With Arsenal pushing to get the match winner, there was some vulnerabilities at the back and a through ball to Marcus Edwards with Holding no where in sight saw the young North London lad go one on one with Ramsdale, but his shot smashed Ramsdale on the face for a corner kick. 90 minutes wasn’t enough to settle the contest and extra time beckoned. 

Arsenal had a big chance to settle the contest when a terrible past for Youssef Chermiti put Trossard through, but he fired his shot on an onrushing Adan, who tipped the ball to the woodwork, before a Sporting CP defender cleared the ball. Odegaard came on for the ineffectual Vieira to add some impetus to the Arsenal attack, and the home side went for the jugular but didn’t draw blood. Three set pieces in quick succession ensued, with Holding nodding Saka’s corner over the bar, and Gabriel attacking the ball twice with goal-bound headers but Adan was on hand to make more important saves.

With both teams failing to settle the contest in 120 minutes, we had to go to the lottery of the penalty shootout, and all honesty, I wasn’t too confident, bearing in mind that Adan had a stromer, and the nerves could get the better of the youngins in the club. The fact that Sporting CP started the kicks and played them close to their own fans didn’t help as well.

Jeremiah St. Juste blasted the opener past Ramsdale, before Odegaard side-footed his own spot kick to the far corner, sending the goalie the wrong way. Ricardo Esgaio had too much power in his penalty which was to hot for Ramsdale, before the starboy, Saka, came on and confidently dispatched his past Adan. Both takers for the third spot kick had nervy moments, with Ramsdale getting a hand, albeit a weak one, to Goncalo Inacio’s penalty, and Trossard’s own kick just crept beyond Adan.

Then came the fourth spot kicks. Artur Gomes’ penalty was quite poor, but it somehow found its way under Ramsdale to make it 4-3. Martinelli stepped up, bounced the ball for God knows how long, dropped it on the spot and side-footed a poor ball that was parried by Adan.

This meant that Nuno Santos, scorer of that amazing rabona goal against Boavista over the weekend, had a chance to put his name in the tabloids as a hero in Lisbon. The Baldie dropped the ball on the spot and absolutely smashed it past Ramsdale to make it 5-3. This is the second competition that this Arsenal side is crashing out on home turf, with Brighton defeating the Gunners before the World Cup at the Carabao Cup’s first hurdle.

The manager spoke about the rued misses in the game in his post-match presser, and stated that Martinelli will bounce back from his penalty losing anguish, like Saka did in the European Championships finals last summer. He also touched on the injuries suffered in the contest, and while Tomiyasu’s own would probably be long term, Saliba might be available for selection against Crystal Palace.

As Odegaard clearly stated, we have 11 finals to play in the Premier League, starting with Crystal Palace at home this weekend. In as much as I’d have loved to go all the way in the Europa League, losing out now, brings clarity to the season, as stated by the gaffer, Arteta.

“It’s a huge blow, but it brings clarity to the season. It’s 11 games to play for, 11 Premier League games, and a big final against Crystal Palace. The focus has to be there, the energy has to be there and learn from tonight.”


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