Arsenal lost 3-2 to Crystal Palace this afternoon in a shock result that dented their top-four chances but secured Premier League survival for the Eagles.
Palace took the lead when Christian Benteke buried his header inside the opening 20 minutes of the match. Mesut Ozil managed to draw Arsenal level before a bizarre defensive moment from Shkodran Mustafi allowed Wilfried Zaha put the Eagles back ahead.
A free-kick taken deep inside the Palace half was hit long towards Benteke, before his flicked ball allowed Zaha to get the better of Mustafi, who seemingly allowed the tricky winger through on goal without a care in the world.
Roy Hodgson’s side were in dreamland when a corner was floated in and converted by James McArthur to put Palace 3-1 up with 20 minutes to play. However, a mazy run – with help from a deflection – allowed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to strike and reduce the deficit.
The Gunners tried and failed to get themselves level and the final whistle blew to celebrations from the south Londoners and groans from those in the north. The result denies Arsenal the opportunity to take advantage of weekend defeats for both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United but they remain in fourth.
For Palace, survival is mathematically secured, with Cardiff City losing to Liverpool 2-0 the icing on the cake for Hodgson’s men. Here are five things we learnt as Arsenal suffered a shock 3-2 defeat to away-day specialists Crystal Palace.
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1. Fortress Emirates takes a battering
Since moving into the Emirates Stadium in 2006, 13 years have passed and Arsenal have made their home a fairly tough place to pick up a result.
This has carried on into this season, with the Gunners boasting an impressive record of winning 14 of their 17 Premier League home fixtures this campaign, losing just once.
However, defeat to Crystal Palace today has denied Arsenal the opportunity to smash their best home record since transferring to the Emirates.
Arsenal’s highest amount of home wins in the Premier League at the Emirates is 15 in two separate seasons (2009/10, 2017/18).
They can only match that now with just one home game against Brighton & Hove Albion to come before the season is out.
2. Palace confirm Premier League survival
Going into today’s match, it was almost certain that Crystal Palace would be playing Premier League football next season.
For what will be their seventh successive season in the top-flight – the most in their history – recent victories against fellow bottom-half sides Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town had all but sealed their status as a top-flight club yet again.
27 – Crystal Palace have scored 27 goals away from home in the Premier League this season; their most in a single campaign in the competition. Only once previously have they netted more in the top-flight (29 in 1991-92). Restyled. #ARSCRY pic.twitter.com/yKrvcGSGIe
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 21, 2019
Few would have bet on Palace walking away with any points from the Emirates this afternoon – especially all three – but yet another away performance full of grit, determination and of course, talent has once again provided the Palace faithful with a moment to relish.
Palace have the sixth best away record in the Premier League this season, picking up 26 points and winning eight matches en route to yet another season in England’s top division.
3. Golden Boot contender Aubameyang is the London derby king
Arsenal’s main man up front has proven since his arrival in England that he loves a London derby.
His goal this afternoon secured his seventh goal this season against teams from England’s capital, more than any other player in the division.
Alongside that, heading into this afternoon’s set of fixtures, a personal battle was still commencing between Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Aubameyang.
The Gunners forward was sitting on 18 Premier League goals – one behind Salah – before he decided to frighten Palace in the closing stages of the match.
Picking up the ball 40 + yards from goal, the Gabon international managed to dribble his way through the Palace backline and finish with expertise to give Arsenal a lifeline. It also means Aubameyang is now level at the top of the goalscoring charts with both Salah and Sergio Aguero on 19 goals.
4. Christian success on Easter Sunday
The big Belgian centre-forward hasn’t exactly enjoyed his football across the past two seasons.
Having scored just three goals for Palace last season, this campaign has been far tougher for the former Aston Villa man, with 14 appearances and zero goals in an injury-impacted campaign.
1 – Christian Benteke has scored his first club goal since April 2018 vs Leicester, ending a run of 19 appearances, 25 shots and 358 days without netting. Chimed. pic.twitter.com/dwG2DPl0eB
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 21, 2019
However, 17 minutes into this clash, Benteke rose above the rest following a Crystal Palace free-kick and buried his header beyond the reach of Bernd Leno, putting the visitors ahead. He also flicked the ball on to assist Zaha later on in the half to further establish his dominance.
In what was his 200th Premier League appearance, the 28-year-old scored his first goal since Crystal Palace defeated Leicester City 5-0 at the end of last season.
It was his first goal away from the penalty spot since January 2018 when Palace draw 1-1 away to West Ham United.
5. No-one is taking the initiative in top-four race
Arsenal’s defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace sealed a weekend of results that saw many top-four challengers fail to secure vital points before the season’s close.
The Gunners knew going into this match that a victory was a must to ensure they made the most of both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur losing to Everton and Manchester City respectively.
Instead, they lacked any real intent throughout and although there were brief moments where they could have got back into the match, they certainly didn’t deserve to come out of the game with all three points.
Chelsea must have been licking their lips at the prospect of a home fixture against Burnley on Monday evening with all of their rivals failing to pick up any points this weekend.