Crystal Palace 2-2 Arsenal: Eagles hold Gunners to halt 12 game winning streak
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Arsenal drew 2-2 against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday. Read on for Layth Yousif’s match report.
A penalty on half-time scored by Luka Milivojevic put the Eagles ahead at half-time before another Unai Emery-inspired powerplay turned the match on its head with two goals in a matter of minutes in front of 25,718 fans.
Not for the first time this season an underwhelming first half performance was replaced by a superb exhibition of powerful movement, passing and clinical shooting changed the result.
A sublime Granit Xhaka free-kick levelled six minutes after the break before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored from close range to make it 2-1 five minutes later.
However, in an entertaining match Palace equalised through a second penalty from the Serbian to level the scores – and deny a 12th consecutive victory for Arsenal.
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Emery’s impressive Gunners continued their winning ways by beating Sporting Lisbon 1-0 in the Europa League on Thursday evening and were full of confidence.
In contrast, Roy Hodgson’s side took a single point from four games, failing to score a single goal at home so far this season.
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Yet, the home side started brightly enough as Wilfried Zaha hit the post on 20 minutes to cap a spell of possession for Palace who were attacking the Whitehorse Lane End.
Moments later Andros Townsend guided the ball inches wide after a cross from the left flank by Patrick van Aanholt, before Milivojevic fired past Bernd Leno’s left hand post 30 seconds later.
In an open start Alexandre Lacazette played a one-two with Alex Iwobi on the edge of the Eagles box before the former Lyon man hit a low, left-footed shot which went past Wayne Hennessey’s right post.
The Gunners carved an opening through an exquisite move featuring Ozil and Aubameyang, who played in an onrushing Bellerin with a delightful flick - following on from his silky assist at the Estadio Jose Alvalade - who had his shot blocked when well-placed.
Palace went ahead on the stroke of half-time when Shkodran Mustafi mistimed an agricultural challenge in the box on Cheikhou Kouyaté leaving referee Martin Atkinson no choice but to award a penalty.
Captain Milivojevic made no mistake, sending Leno the wrong way to send the Eagles into the break deservedly 1-0 ahead.
However Arsenal under Emery are nothing but resilient as Xhaka angled in a stunning free-kick from the right-flank to level.
At the scene of one of the visitors worst performances in the 23 years’ reign under previous manager Arsene Wenger in a pitiful 3-0 defeat lacking heart and coherence on an evening full of bitterness and rancour, Emery’s side went 2-1 ahead.
A ball into the middle came off Lacazette’s arm, taking a deflection off Jordan Ayew’s head and into the path of Aubameyang, lurking at the back post. The former Borussia Dortmund striker needed no encouragement to sweep the ball into the net to put his side ahead.
The goal meant the 29-year-old has now scored a goal with each of his last six shots in the Premier League. Amazing. As they say.
What was far less edifying on 68 minutes was the very public show of petulance Ozil demonstrated upon being replaced by the ‘Danny Welbeck Express’ - as he was dubbed by Portuguese newspapers the morning after he pounced on a mistake by former Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates to fire home a clinical winner in Lisbon.
Ozil threw his gloves to the ground as he came off the pitch in a clear sign of dissent. Of course you could argue that his desire to play for Emery manifested itself in pure frustration at not playing as many minutes as possible for Arsenal – a backhanded compliment to the new atmosphere engendered by the Spaniard.
However far more likely is that it was exactly what it appeared to be – an unnecessary display of enmity.
Worse was to come for Arsenal with eight minutes remaining when Xhaka performed a clumsy challenge on Zaha. For the second time in this clash Atkinson had no choice but to point to the spot.
Milivojevic, also for the second time on Sunday, emphatically slotted home to make the score 2-2 in a hectic match which put paid to 12 wins in a row.
The fact that the point felt like a defeat for Emery’s side is testament to how far they have come in such a short space of time.
If they can remain unbeaten after they host Liverpool at the Emirates in a week’s time that would be some achievement.