A shambolic display from the gunners on Monday football night gave Crystal palace their 5th win in 6 games. An unchanged XI from an arsenal side that beat West Ham last week fell to the sword last night at Selhurst park.
Amid all the controversies surrounding the club and with just 7 points in their last games Arsenal cut an aimless and devoid of guile performance in the London derby, an overwhelming Crystal Palace performance full of purpose and controlled aggression was enough to hand maximum points to the Eagles. Goals from Andros Townsend, Yohan Cabaye and Luka Milivojevic’s penalty kick; Arsenal was both bullied and outplayed by a team that before the game were only three points above the relegation zone.
Crystal Palace took the lead after 18 minutes, when a large gap opened up on the left side of the Arsenal defence. Yohan Cabaye slipped a neat pass to Wilfried Zaha, despite slipping in the process, still found a way to square for Townsend to score.
After that, the game was characterised by intermittent Arsenal attacks that threatened, but Palace always seemed to have a defender there to get in the way of the final pass. Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez both went close with efforts from either side of the penalty area; the home defence looked open at times, but Sakho made some crucial interventions, continuing the fine form he has displayed since joining Palace on loan from Liverpool in January.
At the other end, the Palace forward line was sharp, hungry and always threatening, helped partly by an accommodating visiting defence, but broadly because Zaha, Christian Benteke and Townsend were effectual.
Palace started the second half on top 1-0 and had the ball in the net after five minutes, when Benteke pushed home a rebound in the 6-yard box but was flagged offside.
Arsenal tried to find their way back into the game, but even after Wenger made an uncharacteristically early change, bringing on Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey before the hour mark, Palace doubled their lead about 20 minutes into the second half. Again it was Townsend and Zaha who combined, with the latter firing in a low cross from which Cabaye looped an inventive finish inexperienced Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
Five minutes later, it was 3-0. Referee Michael Oliver pointed to the penalty spot without hesitation when Townsend went down in the area as Martinez and Hector Bellerin challenged. While replays suggested the Palace man dived, from the referee’s angle it looked like a clear penalty. Milivojevic fired home from 12 yards, and Wenger looked on with a sorry face.
Goals by Andros Townsend, Yohan Cabaye and Luka Milivojevic were followed by furious chants from Gooners on the terraces that the players aren’t “fit to wear the shirt.”
After the game captain for the night Theo Walcott faced the Sky Sports cameras spoke about his assertions on the game.
“The biggest thing would be letting the fans down tonight,” the 28-year-old told Geoff Shreeves.
“We all did. That’s not Arsenal at all. I thought we’d bounced back well against Man City and West Ham at home but tonight wasn’t us at all.
“We’re very disappointed in the dressing room, as the fans are as well because we’ve let them down tonight. We need to respond. That’s only going to come from hard work that we take into Monday [against Middlesbrough].
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion. We don’t have a problem with that. We want to try and do a job. We don’t go out there to lose games. We try the best we can but tonight it just didn’t happen. Like I said, all we can do is apologise.
“They just wanted it more. You could tell. You could sense that from the kick off. It was an uphill battle towards the end there. Like I said before this isn’t Arsenal at this moment in time.
“We thought we’d got out of this little patch, hopefully we’ve not fallen straight back into it. Judging by that performance tonight it looks like we have.”