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Arsenal and Crystal Palace play out drab stalemate

arteta-12212020-getty-ftr (Getyt Images)

Arsenal struggled to break down Crystal Palace on Thursday night, with Palace emerging with a point after a solid defensive display.

Arsenal could have conceivably gone into eighth with a huge win, whereas Crystal Palace had the chance to leapfrog their London rivals, who started the night in 11th.

Mikel Arteta called on Emile Smith Rowe to start for the side after his impressive FA Cup showing against Newcastle United, but aside from one clever cross for Alexandre Lacazette which was diverted by Hector Bellerin, he offered little in the first half.

It was Palace who had the better chances, with James Tomkins crashing a header against the crossbar, and moments later Christian Benteke lept to head to the top corner, forcing Bernd Leno to dive to his left to beat the ball away.

In the second half, Lacazette and Ainsley Maitland-Niles had shots on goal but Arteta soon introduced Nicolas Pepe to try to change things up, but Benteke and Wilfried Zaha kept Arsenal’s defence occupied.

With 10 minutes remaining, Jordan Ayew was introduced by Roy Hodgson as they looked to stretch the Arsenal defence with the end in sight, while Arteta added Eddie Nketiah to his forward line in place of Lacazette. Both teams had chances and will feel they missed a good opportunity to take all three points.

Here’s how the game unfolded on Thursday night.

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Full time: Arsenal 0-0 Crystal Palace

Arsenal get their first home clean sheet since July 2020, but they will be disappointed. Palace were the more impressive side, but they were stale in attack and they offered little when they really need to grab three points to remain in with a hope of Europa League football. Palace, meanwhile, stay in 13th.

93+1' - A minute remaining

Just a minute of added time to come, with Ayew sprinting clear to earn a corner with a deflected shot.

89' - Pepe shot

Guaita punches a Saka free-kick clear, and Pepe blasts a shot over from the edge of the box. Milivojevic is off, and McCarthy is on to try to hold onto a point, it seems.

85' - Zaha penalty appeal

Holding chases Zaha into the box and the striker goes down under his attention. It seems like VAR will review, but nothing is given. It is a ragged end to the game, with little technique on show.

81' - Both sides make changes

Eddie Nketiah comes on for Lacazette, and for Palace Ayew is now on for Benteke.

 

78' - Eze limping

Eze is gingerly limping on the sidelines of the pitch, with Ayew warming up on the sidelines just in case. A little over 10 minutes for the sides to find a winner.

70' - Partey on for Arsenal

Ceballos is brought off, allowing Partey on to get some minutes.

69' - Benteke chance

Zaha whips in a cross from the right, and Xhaka slides back to cut out the pass, and Benteke was just a few feet from tucking away a shot.

65' - Pepe on, Maitland-Niles off

The most expensive player here is on the pitch tonight.

63' - Maitland-Niles chance

The Arsenal utility man advances on goal and curls a shot from the edge of the box, but it's straight at Guaita.

55' - Lacazette hits the side-netting

Lacazette receives a pass on the edge of the six-yard box, and controls the heavy ball into him. He spins towards goals and fires against the outside of the goal, just wide.

46' - We go again

The second half gets underway. No changes for either side that I can see so far.

Half-time: Arsenal 0-0 Newcastle

Arsenal go into the first half perhaps the least impressive of the two sides. There hasn't been much to report, save for Palace's two headers in quick succession towards the end of the first 45.

45+1' - Into added time.

A minute of added time, and Arsenal can't do anything with a corner as Benteke clear.

42' - Palace go close twice!

Christian Benteke heads at goal and forces Leno into a diving stop to his left. Moments before, Tomkins - just booked now - headed an effort from Eze against the crossbar after an Eze free kick from the left.

35' - Bellerin error

A chance for Arsenal as Smith Rowe sends in another cross from the right wing, Bellerin runs onto the ball with Lacazette waiting and poised behind him, and the ball bounces up and away.

31' - Aubameyang threatens

Ceballos, and then Xhaka, pick out two good runs from Aubameyang down the inside left but the striker can only win a corner on the left. It takes the pressure off Arsenal after Palace were camped in the other half.

23' - Zaha chance

Zaha plays a clever 1-2 into the box with Benteke, who held off a defender well, before the Ivory Coast forward darts inside and fires off a shot that Xhaka quickly slides in to block.

19' - Aubameyang chance!

Guaita slaps a wicked strike from Aubameyang into the air and away. The striker had cut in from the left, into the box, and blasted an effort far too close to the 'keeper.

16' - Maitland-Niles error

Maitland-Niles blasts a backpass towards Leno but it's too fierce and off target, and flies back behind for a corner. Nothing comes of it.

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