Arsenal 0-0 Crystal Palace: Premier League – 14/01/2021

With five wins-in-a-row in all competitions, Arsenal fans could perhaps be forgiven for being somewhat accustomed to seeing Mikel Arteta punch the air in triumph when the final whistle eventually rings out. 

A champagne and caviar performance away to West Brom was followed by a hard-fought but deserved win in the FA Cup over Newcastle United, with Crystal Palace (who have proved to be something of a poisoned chalice in recent seasons for Arsenal) the next scalp for Arsenal to take.

Following an injury to Pablo Marí as well as a precautionary resting for Kieran Tierney, Arsenal made a few changes to the lineup that beat West Brom, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Dani Ceballos and David Luiz all coming in. There were also boosts for Arsenal in the form of both Gabriel Magalhães returning from a nasty bout of COVID-19 and Thomas Partey, who has recovered from the injury he sustained over Tottenham Hotspur in December.

Bernd Leno’s acrobatics proved to be essential.

The first-half was a fairly uneventful affair, neither team looked particularly spectacular going forward and though Arsenal very much dominated the first half in terms of possession, there was very little by way of clear cut chances. 

The second half hardly faired much better either. Arsenal struggled with the low-block of Crystal Palace and though there were some interesting avenues for Arsenal to explore, they never seriously looked as though they were going to score. 

The visitors were not without their chances either. Wilfried Zaha’s efforts were mainly very well tracked by Granit Xhaka, however, that didn’t stop Crystal Palace from striking the bar several times and for some expert reflexes from Bernd Leno to keep the homeside in the game.

Overall, no one would have shed a tear as the final whistle blew. Both teams had looked fairly underwhelming with the away side perhaps looking a shade more exciting, but the mood was one of grim satisfaction for Roy Hodgson and what might have been for Mikel Arteta.

Granit Xhaka was one of the standout performers on the night.

It’s perhaps a testament to how good he has been this season, to say that Arsenal really lacked Kieran Tierney. Though Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ lacklustre performance was probably more down to his having played very irregularly in recent weeks or down to the fact that most of the team were still fatigued after their 120 minute slog against Newcastle United, but Arsenal lacked Tierney’s killer instinct.

The former Celtic man has found avenues down the left-hand side all season, linking up well with whomever is on his flank, whether it be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabriel Martinelli or Bukayo Saka, the Scottish left-back has been a danger all season, especially with his inch-perfect crosses, something Arsenal drastically missed on Thursday night. 

It was also a fairly good performance from Granit Xhaka too. Though his passing left an awful lot to be desired, the Swiss international was all over the field and was a constant thorn in the side of Zaha, keeping him from getting shots off, cutting his distribution lines and generally making a nuisance of himself. 

Arsenal will be looking for a resurgence of form against Newcastle United on Monday night, a game that Arsenal will hopefully enter into with a bit of confidence and more attacking flair than they showed against their London rivals. 

Arsenal team:
  1.) Bernd Leno
  2.) Héctor Bellerín
16.) Rob Holding
23.) David Luiz
15.) Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Pépé 65’)
  8.) Dani Ceballos (Partey 69’)
34.) Granit Xhaka
  7.) Bukayo Saka
32.) Emile Smith Rowe
14.) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (c)
  9.) Alexandre Lacazette (Nketiah 81’)

Arsenal subs:
13.) Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson
  6.) Gabriel Magalhães
21.) Calum Chambers
17.) Cédric Soares
28.) Joe Willock
18.) Thomas Partey
19.) Nicolas Pépé
12.) Willian
30.) Eddie Nketiah

Crystal Palace team:
31.) Vicente Guaita
  2.) Joel Ward
  5.) James Tomkins
  8.) Cheikhou Kouyaté
27.) Tyrick Mitchell
10.) Andros Townsend
18.) James McArthur
  4.) Luka Milivojević (c)
25.) Eberechi Eze
11.) Wilfried Zaha
20.) Christian Benteke

Crystal Palace subs:
  1.) Jack Butland
  6.) Scott Dann
44.) Jaïro Riedewald
24.) Gary Cahill
  3.) Patrick van Aanholt
17.) Nathaniel Clyne
22.) James McCarthy
23.) Michy Batshuayi
  9.) Jordan Ayew

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