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Crystal Palace 0-1 Arsenal: Match Report & Player Ratings

A lone strike from club captain Martin Ødegaard from the penalty spot separated the two London sides in a hard-fought result at Selhurst Park that saw the Gunners make it two wins in two to open the campaign.

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Match Report

Premier League young guns Arsenal made it two wins in two as Mikel Arteta’s Gunners dispatched a doggedly-determined Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on a night where Arsenal was made to fight for every yard in south London to secure all three points south of the Thames.

On a night where questions were once again levied regarding Gabriel Magalhães remaining out of the matchday XI under Arteta, the Gunners were made to work exceptionally hard in another coming-of-age performance as the club’s youthful exuberance has begun to fan out when it comes to its ability to find three points even if a performance is not its usual scintillating two hours of sublime theatre.

It took the Gunners less than three minutes to find their first half-chance of the match when Kai Havertz found himself on the ball twenty yards from goal yet surrounded by Palace players, but his calmness under pressure saw him spot Gabriel Martinelli in the left half-space before the Brazilian cut in centrally to have a crack at goal that was ultimately blocked.

Palace countered in kind four minutes later in their first opportunity to break on the counter after Jeffrey Schlupp danced through midfield and found Odonnse Edouard, who laid off for Jordan Ayew to run at Takehiro Tomiyasu, but his cross-come-shot was cleared away for a corner.

It was a rather tame opening 15 minutes despite the odd foray from Arsenal in the Palace third, particularly through a dangerous-looking Bukayo Saka, Roy Hodgson’s men looked stout on the counter and had another half-chance after Edouard was played over the top and his hold up play good enough to wait for reinforcements, but nothing came of the resulting chance.

Palace arguably had the better chances throughout the opening half-hour in front of home support at Selhurst Park, with Arsenal having a half-hearted shout for a possible penalty turned away in the 26th minute by match official David Coote, with VAR confirming the on-pitch decision.

The best chance of the half as it stood came in the 29th minute when Eddie Nketiah got the better of Marc Guéhi and Joachim Andersen to get himself one-on-one with Sam Johnstone, but his dispatched effort into the far corner, unfortunately, bounced off the post and clear to safety, with the Gunners failing to register a shot on frame in the opening half-hour.

A heavy touch from William Saliba nearly saw Ayew pick up possession and burst into the box from just inside the Arsenal half but a last-gasp tackle from the French starlet spared the Gunners.

Arsenal immediately went up the other end and once again had a great chance via Nketiah after Rice found the striker through on goal but he horrifically botched his chip over Johnstone and saw it sail harmlessly over the bar.

In the final five minutes in the first interval, Martin Ødegaard hit a ferociously struck bending effort at Johnstone’s goal for the Gunners’ first official shot on target on the night, but as before, Arteta’s troops could not turn the resulting corner - their sixth at the time - into another decent opportunity, which would go down as the last meaningful attacking move of the first half.

Neither Hodgson nor Arteta made any changes during the half-time interval, with Arsenal hoping to turn their relative dominance into a result in the second period of play, but it was Palace that began with bigger intent from the restart when Tyrick Mitchell made an overlapping run before his ball across goal was found wanting.

The Gunners finally got the chance they deserved in the 51st minute when Nketiah beat the offside trap before being brought down by Johnstone when he tried to round the keeper, with Ødegaard dispatching from the spot to give Arsenal a deserved 1-0 lead.

Palace earned a free-kick in a dangerous position just minutes later after Eberechi Eze was brought down just outside the area by Saliba, but the England man could only loop his effort over Aaron Ramsdale’s bar, but it remained a signal to the Gunners that the Eagles were still capable of finding an equalizer going forward.

The Gunners would go down to ten men with twenty-five minutes remaining after Tomiyasu brought down Ayew who looked to be away, with the Japanese international seeing his second yellow after a first was dispatched for time wasting earlier in the half, with Palace now fancying their chances to level matters on the night.

Martinelli was ultimately replaced on the night by compatriot Gabriel Magalhães and was less than thrilled by the notion as well, but the Brazilian defender coming on put to bed any notion that he is not fit for service.

Hodgson’s men themselves had a shout for a penalty after Eze dazzled on the ball to skip past Rice and Partey to get into the box before seemingly being brought down, but VAR agreed with the on-pitch decision.

Arteta would call upon veteran midfielder Jorginho to help see out the match while removing Nketiah, who despite not bagging a goal, was one of Arsenal’s best performers on the night throughout, with Arsenal looking to have another controller on the pitch while offering a bit more stoutness in defense as Palace kept pushing for an equalizer.

Alarm bells sounded in the final five minutes before stoppage when Edouard flashed a glancing header wide of Ramsdale’s far post after Mitchell did well to whip a cross into the area, with the Eagles still plugging away in desperate fashion to earn a credible point early in the season.

The Gunners made two final defensive chances to pad the defensive lines by bringing on Oleksandr Zinchenko and Jakub Kiwior as Palace kept knocking on the door that was hanging on by its hinges as seven minutes of stoppage time was revealed to have been added on.

Try as they may, Palace were unable to find a leveler before full-time was whistled in south London as Arsenal held on just enough to secure their second win of the season across a result that once again showed a brave performance from a young Gunners side that are ever-more in the public eye after finishing second last season.

Palace performed as expected, and had a fair few chances of their own across a hard-fought performance that they could certainly take positives of despite questions surrounding the long-term managerial position at the club, but a cadre of young players in the club ranks shows that there is a future for the club just around the bend.

All told, Arsenal deserved all three points despite the absences of Gabriel Jesus, Jurriën Timber, and without Gabriel and Zinchenko in the XI on the night.

Key Stats (Player)

Crystal Palace Player Ratings

Arsenal Player Ratings

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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