Five things we learned from Arsenal's victory at Crystal Palace
- Credit: PA
The five things we learned in Arsenal's 3-1 victory over London rivals Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
1. Two Arsenal goals in injury time spoiled Roy Hodgson’s farewell party, as the veteran manager bid goodbye to Selhurst Park with a defeat.
Despite the return of 6,500 fans, this London derby was played at a low tempo, where clear-cut chances were few and far between.
Although a win for the Gunners means they are still in the hunt to qualify for the Europa Conference League on the final day, two late strikes from Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pepe gave a flattering feel to the final 3-1 score line.
2. Mikel Arteta’s team selection offered an extra insight into what Arsenal may be planning to do over the summer.
Not only did the visitors offer a preview to what 2021-22 may look like, as they sported their new all-yellow away strip, but the absence of experienced heads such as Granit Xhaka, Willian, Dani Ceballos and Alexandre Lacazette hinted that Arteta may be looking to move them on in the upcoming transfer window.
3. With a squad rebuild seemingly imminent at the club, it was fitting that Arsenal’s best moments came from their young guns. Scoring the goal to put his team ahead at the death, Martinelli looked lively as ever.
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Academy graduates Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe impressed again without dazzling throughout, suggesting that, even if Arteta chooses to trust his youngsters, other experienced players will be needed to help steer Arsenal’s ship in the right direction.
4. Since returning with a vengeance from several niggling injuries, Kieran Tierney has emerged as one of the new leaders of the squad.
David Luiz’s exit, combined with the aforementioned possibility that Xhaka and Lacazette could seek a move, Tierney has established himself not just as a viable option, but a clear candidate to become the team’s vice-captain next campaign.
The Scot’s commitment and desire to leave everything on the field sets a consistent example to every other player and perfects encapsulates the “non-negotiables” Arteta expects in terms of effort and energy.
5. In spite of the fact that Hodgson’s final home game as Palace manager ended in defeat, the 73-year-old should congratulate himself for four years of successful service to Crystal Palace.
The Eagles’ longest-serving manager since their return to the Premier League in 2014, Hodgson has managed to keep them competitive year on year without the threat of relegation ever looming.
Likely heading into retirement, the former England, Liverpool and Fulham manager can look back on a thoroughly impressive 45-year career in the dugout.