Palace Review: Arsenal Pay Penalty

Crystal Palace 2 – 2 Arsenal

In the past, it was a game which would keep us in animated conversation for hours afterwards. The journey home, via various hostelries, would whizz past until the trek was completed. Two penalties, one of which was contentious, to say the least; a handball assist in the second Arsenal goal; it had almost everything.

Except three points. And frankly, we didn’t deserve them either. For the first time, the Unai Emery hairdryer failed to inspire us to an imperious second half display. We were better than in the first half, that’s for sure, but not worthy winners.

A bright start after the interval gave way to listlessness as fatigue took hold and Palace’s refusal to yield. Doughty in defence, durable in attack; prodding, poking and hitting the turf at every opportunity.

And hitting the turf brought them the second penalty. It felt inevitable; somehow, the stars were aligned. A moment’s flippancy before the game proved unerringly accurate, aside from the defeat.

Xhaka admitted afterwards that he made contact with Zaha; hardly surprising given the winger dived into Granit’s knee. A moment’s hesitation on his part allowed the situation to develop but overall, he did well as a makeshift left-back. Holding assumed responsibility for covering and showed great maturity in his work. Promising stuff.

Which is more than can be said for Mustafi. A brain fart moment as the first-half closed saw him lunge at the space where he thought the ball would be. The ball, however, wasn’t there, an ankle was instead and Mustafi connected.

Flawed Decision-making

He is an odd player to fathom. A £30m desperation buy which typified how broken the structure at the club became. Will we make the same mistake in the future? Of course; it’s a natural football phenomenom.

Should he be near the Premier League team? I feel more comfortable seeing Sokratis and Holding in the XI than Mustafi and anyone. However, it seems unlikely anything is going to change any time soon.

The game’s only stunning moment came courtesy of Xhaka’s left boot. As sweet a strike as you could wish to see from the edge of the area. Curled into the top corner, unerringly.

As for the second, there is a lot of flawed analysis so I’ll add to it. Aubameyang prodded home but Lacazette flicked the ball on with his hand. VAR would disallow the goal, so the logic went.

Except VAR would tell the referee to award a penalty instead, for the obvious and vigorous tugging of Lacazette’s shirt which caused the hand to go up in protest or involuntarily. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

Atkinson is an infuriating referee – is there any other kind? – in his inability to spot foul play. Suckered in by every trick one week, too intimidated to make a decision the next, and then a mixture of the two. This was the latter category.

It is tempting to blame the referee but we must look closer to home for the result. There’s no doubt Atkinson influenced it (strongly) but we didn’t raise our game for any sustained spell. Twenty minutes in the second half when we threatened to rattle in three or four; then we slipped back to old ways.

Hamstrung by Confidence in Crucial Moments

The crucial point to remember is that we are still twelve unbeaten. Problems remain with the team; we’re not a 90-minute XI at the moment and haven’t been all season. It’s perhaps the most taxing problem for Unai Emery to resolve.

That and the back four. He’s hamstrung by the left-backs’ hamstrings but centrally, I wonder how Mustafi retains anyone’s confidence. His decision-making is appalling in key moments. Not all the time, which in itself is something of an issue. It’s hard to predict where his erratic behaviour will take us next.

But the second penalty wasn’t down to him. Lacazette’s loose ball started all the shenanigans in the first place. That summed up our day. We shot ourselves in the foot when we needed to stamp our authority.

As I mentioned eleven wins and a draw is nothing to be sniffed at. Conceding just before half-time and with ten minutes to go last season, would see us crumble. We didn’t this time which is some of the fabled resilience showing through.

However, the defending from all parts of the team needs to improve. The pressing game was evident in fits and starts yesterday. In a season where it’s obvious that the top four is going to be a tight race, that might be a crucial difference between returning to the Champions League or sitting among the also-rans.

’til Tomorrow.

44 thoughts on “Palace Review: Arsenal Pay Penalty

  1. Good morning YW. The winning streak was going to come to an end at some point. A point is better than nothing obviously.

    There are a number issues that must be addressed. Left and right back. Sead? Is not up to it. Nacho has what 1-2 seasons at most. Bellerin needs proper cover and serious competition for his place.

    Guendozi and Torreira are the future ? They obviously lack PL experience and are young. We need to sign an ” Arteta@ type of player, as a counter balsncevri the dynamism and youthful exuberance of the aforementioned .

    The quicker El Neny and Ramsey are moved in we can bring in the required players.

    Upfront I see trouble in the horizon. Emery has to find a way to incorporate PEA into the Team.

  2. Arsetralian,

    Plenty more share those thoughts mate.

    For me, I think that his type of error, although rare, is very unsettling for his surrounding defenders. Not necessarily consciously so.
    I work in a high safety conscious environment, and we categorise errors , based on the aero industry classes.
    Predictable errors are relatively safe, coz a copiltvcan be checking for them or have a system in place to correct them.
    It’s the Unpredictable Error that causes shit to fly. The system needs to be designed to eradicate….fantasyland….minimise these errors.
    Now. Are they rare enough that they won’t cause us damage ? Some (C) , may still feel they are, my personal feeling is no, that’s 3 , at least in 12 games. His CB partners nerves must be jangling. Already got Xhaka to nurse thru! Good job as Yogi says, there.
    Do we have a buy back clause on Gabriel?…. ha ,like fuck will we. That was then…
    In this case, unless mr Emery ,or stevie thinks that he can teach these errors out of Mustafi, then we have to look to replace him.

  3. Ras,
    I would argue that PEA is wasted on the left, the gaffer ought to use his wide men to supply PEA as a finisher with either Ramsey or Ozil playing 10, though I would prefer Ozil, if Welbeck was on the right and Iwobi on the left, secondly the lack of the 1st team fullbacks meant we couldn’t stretch and create our lightning fast cutbacks and we scored less.

    But it has to be an either or for PEA and Lacazette as striker, except we are playing a 4-4-2. At times, one of them coming from the bench means he can be fresh and aggressive until the final whistle.

    Using PEA on the left undermines the team’s performance and we were lucky yesterday not to lose the game. We can’t afford more than 1 passenger in terms of aggression in the starting 11.

  4. The winning streak was always set to end but staying unbeaten didn’t.

    Think we needed this to happen but I think more than anything we have to keep pushing on. We didn’t look up to the races but 2 penalties did us in. I do think though you have to wonder why Emery took off Ozil and Aubameyang instead of Iwobi and because Ramsey and Welbeck didn’t make any impact.

    Losing Bellerin was MASSIVE and the LB situation needs ti be resolved. Guendouzi is a brilliant young player, but in a match like yesterday, I think the more experienced Xhaka was missed in the midfield.

    Even with all that said, 12 unbeaten is good business when you conisder we still sit in 4th only a couple 4 points off the top and 2 points off 2nd.

  5. Ras,

    I don’t necessarily think we need an Arteta type but I would say that it shows some of the things that Xhaka brings. Sure he has his faults but he also plays that dictating midfield pivot role for us better than he gets credit for.

    I agree with you about Ramsey and while I do think in that DM position Elneny is best suited because he recovers and recycles, I think Emery wants a different sort of player.

  6. C,

    It did seem like Roy had a good plan for Iwobi. Surround him, he has been told to dribble. Got isolated too often . Not his solo problem, as we could have recognised it and supported him more closely or told him to mix it up a bit more.
    Or taken him off, as you say.
    Sadly, Palace seemed to dominate the loose balls, of which there were hundreds, Pretty poor game all round. I was relieved with a draw, even after going 2-1 up. Never looked like we had the composure to control the middle of the park. Ramsey and Welbeck Should have helped ,you’d ve thought. Apparently not on This day. Been busy time mind. Nice break now for most.

  7. ferkov,

    Yup and I think leaving Ozil on would have given us the passer we needed and the introduction of Welbeck for Iwobi would have given more runners and willing runners off the ball.

    I’m fine with a draw especially in a match that, over the years, we have seen us lose in spectacular fashion. I do think Ramsey and Welbeck didn’t offer much and I do wonder if Mhkitaryan would have offered much more than Ramsey.

  8. Morning

    A fair summary YW – a draw was about right in the end.

    Couple of things I’d add….

    Our big boys didn’t get going yesterday. I include PEA, Laca and Ozil in that group. We need one of them to impose on a game and none did yesterday. Not having a go, some credit has to go to Palace for keeping them quiet. Especially when we tried to break – we just couldn’t get it to run right when the chances were there.

    Might take some flak for this one, but I didn’t think Leno had his best game yesterday. Flapped on the corner that led to the first penalty, scuffed his punch (in the run up to the second??) and whilst their lad drilled both pens, I beat he’ll be annoyed he didn’t at least get something on the second, having gone the right way.

  9. Damon,

    Not giving you flak but I do think that Leno, like all GK’s coming into the PL, he is still getting use to corners and crosses. I was talking to my ex-coach and he was explaining to me how it seems German GK’s, including Neuer and Ter Stegen, aren’t always taught to come off their lines for crosses because CB’s and defenders are so commanding that they often times for crosses stay on their lines. Its something he will learn as he continues at Arsenal but I also think your right in mentioning but I’m not overly concerned.

    Regarding your other point, I tend to agree but it seemed like the signs were there that they could. For me, I thought Mhkitaryan was primed for that match more so than Ramsey because we needed another creator or passer instead of a player like Ramsey whonis better getting on the end of things than creating (though capable not really his thing).

  10. Afternoon all-surprised at Mesut’s reaction with the glove throwing nonsense after being subbed…especially as captain…silly boy

  11. Yeah, I wasn’t digging anyone out, just making a mental note more than anything else. My mate and I at work this morning were talking about how continental keepers take a while to get used to how teams here expect their keeper to behave. I, like most others, much prefer Leno for his distribution at the moment.

    On the other thing, I completely get that some days it just doesn’t fire up for your big boys and it means you’re not going to win the game. At 2:1 yesterday I never felt like we had the game under control and Palace were out of it.

    Ramsey or Miki? I can see why he’s gone for Rambo when the breaks just looked like we were one touch or pass from making it stick that Aaron, with current form, might make the difference. It wasn’t to be, but you can’t say Emery didn’t give us a good chance. Love the starting line up (plus a natural LB) and think that’s close to our strongest XI at the moment.

  12. Selhurst isn’t an easy place to go for 3rd game in 7 days. They are an athletic team on top of that.

    However, Zaha dived for that second pen! Watch it in slow mo. Before Xhakas leg moves over he’s got both his feet planted together and he’s almost at 45 degrees waiting for the contact.

    Waste of talent.

    Having said take him in a heartbeat. If we could get him and take him to next level he’s got the pace and physical properties to hurt teams. Just hate that he’s such a bad diver

  13. Damon,

    I felt after 60mins we looked very tired. Particularly Xhaka, Auba and Laca. We couldn’t hold onto the ball because they shut us down relentlessly, they’ve had 8 days rest we’ve had 3 days since our last game, it showed imo.

    What I’d give for Zaha in my team though. So ku h raw. Power and pace. Shame Hodgeson hasn’t coached the diving out of him. Hes talented enough to stay on his feet

  14. Damon,

    Agree completely and I, like you, prefer Leno for his distribution but I would also add how cat quick he is off his line in that sweeper keeper role that also helps with our high line. I hope Emery continues on with Leno as first choice and Cech as his second.

    Everything wasn’t clicking and at 2-1, I was firmly in the camp that we needed to either keep possession or grab the next goal but it was always up in the air. 11 unbeaten and scoring for fun, it was always destined to have a day like yesterday. Its also why I think we missed Bellerin who provides us that last outlet when the big boys are a bit off.

    Ramsey, I certainly get the reason why and on another day he connects on that header and it goes in the back of the net but Mhkitaryan offers that extra bit technically in a match like that that can create that chance. Absolutely Emery gave us a good chance and yoy saw him several times even call Lacazette over to try to instill confidence to keep pushing. I do completely agree, with a natural LB and Bellerin, that is arguably our strongest XI from the off with Guendouzi and Xhaka interchangeable depending on opponent.

  15. MesutsLeftFoot,

    I know most would take Zaha but not for my taste. Iwobi is every bit the talent without all the diving and I think Nelson will be so much better next season. If I was to want a player, it would be Bailey if Leverkusen.

  16. Hello all , feel that i agree with the overall sentiment here. It goes to show how teams can survive in the premier league purely on stamina, work rate and some talent mixed in. They were relentless and were not playing like a side in the relegation zone. Pitch sometimes just feels smaller and they pressed us well shutting down space everywhere.

    The penalty thing has been discussed a million times, and it seems some sports just have trouble defining what is & is not a penalty. We’ve all seen suarez go down when Kos gets suckered into touching him with his pinky finger in the back. The ref never hesitates in those moments. Same with Zaha yesterday he did the classic move, flick the ball way past your guy and dive into his leg. You can see he is already diving by the time his leg touches Xhaka. Sure Xhaka shouldnt have dangled a leg but is this type of play supposed to be praised? The announcers make it seem like such great skill and praise him for winning a peno. There are other plays where strikers are running in the box, tugging, bumping, shoulder barging. all this contact but no penalty, yet when you make a good show out of it the refs gobble it up like fresh pies and award the pen.

    Reminds me of the hilarity going on in the NFL now the entire game is based on throwing and catching balls yet no one can actually define what a ‘catch’ is.

  17. In complete agreement on Mustafi.
    Though, I can also attribute the second PEN to his brain-farting ways.
    We lead 2-1 at 80′. We are protecting a midfielder playing LB– and doing it well to this juncture.

    Watch the replay, you’ll note three Arsenal defenders running back toward goal in a line– numbers 12, 16, 34. No number 20 in the picture. Number 16 has to cover the spot where number 20 should have been at this critical moment. Leaving number 34 on an island with the quickest, most physical Palace attacker. Number 20 does eventually arrive– not quite able to slot into the area number 16 would have been– comfortably assisting in warding off Zaha.

    Granit Xhaka left without help. A lamb for the wolf.

    Joachim Low has a good snicker each time he sees these lowlights. His national team chock full of ageing-lost-a-step defenders. Knowing full-well a 27 year-old in-his-prime would be a worse choice than any of them. Hasn’t called him up for the past 14 months.

    The club must be satisfied seeing a defender with every physical tool — waste his ability– and his teammates’ efforts– with the footballing brain of an idiot.


  18. ferkov,

    I’d take him but Bailey is and will continue to develop into a brilliant winger/attacker. Almiron I think with his pace, technique and ability as a pacey winger would be a good buy but Bailey is a different class to both Zaha and Almiron for me.

  19. C,

    Hello C It’s been a while hope your well. When I said the Arteta type I was simply referring to a Player with a lot of experience and brings a calming influence to the midfield area. Its the first season for both Guendozi and Torreira they need an experienced head to sit and orchestrate. A player who unlike Ramsey ( Rien against him) whose natural instinct is to bomb forward.

    When the Laca pass went astray on Sunday we had 6 players committed in attack, committed to the ball.

    I love PEA, however if played centrally he’a not that good, comfortable with his back to goal, he’s unable to bring in other players à la Laca or Giroud.

    It’s just not PEA’s game. Lacazette is preferred in my opinion by Emery as he’s able to link up the attack.

    Emery has not tried PEA on the right, ita always from the left. At Dortmund PEA had Dembele on the left wing and Miki on the other providing the ammunition.

    I think that this provides Emery with a huge problem on how to get the best from his troops

  20. jw1,

    No offense mate, but your wrong. Mustafi actually does the right thing and picks up the CF who is running free and he is pressuring the CF who then plays it outwide to Zaha as Mustafi drops into Holding’s vacated spot to help cover Xhaka.

  21. Prior to the match I was concerned with Zaha for his speed and scoring ability but mostly for his diving. I get that players/teams will use every edge they can find to win games but why do the officials not recognize it and penalize the repeat offenders? They seem to recognize certain players for their tackling, and we have seen this with Xhaka, but others live a charmed life. Some divers have developed it to a fine art so perhaps a term at RADA should be part of referees’ training now.
    All that said, if you were told pre-match that Arsenal were to be assessed two penalties, many would have picked Mustafi and Xhaka.

  22. C:

    That took longer than expected!
    I may not agree with your view on the player, but rarely find fault with your view of events.

    No offense mate, but your wrong.Mustafi actually does the right thing and picks up the CF who is running free and he is pressuring the CF who then plays it outwide to Zaha as Mustafi drops into Holding’s vacated spot to help cover Xhaka.

  23. Ras,

    Not Xhaka though?
    He showed great restraint from attacking forays…depending on perspective of course, whilst at LB. Could be part of his ‘process’

  24. Blue Yonder,

    If i was on the arsenal staff i would sit down our players and show them a loop of arsenal players getting duped by whinging divers from Liverpool, Chelski (costa), Troy big weenie Deeney too. Suarez used to have a field day with players like Kos, Gabriel, amongst others. After some time you just need to realize when you can and can not put a hand on the other striker. If you stick out a leg , or touch them in the back, they milk it for all it’s worth.

  25. ferkov,

    Thanks mate!

    Don’t worry about the quote thing, we use to have a regular poster that routinely broke the internet so I think your okay 😂

  26. I normally HATE their transfer skulduggery and general naughtiness, but… If ever there was a time to love Real, it’s now for all Gunners out there.

    Please, for the love of all things football, sign Pochettino as your next manager and let him raid the club for the handful of decent players they’ve got there this winter.

    Please make it so.

  27. C,

    Rewound a few seconds further. You are correct in that Mustafi took on the CF upfield. Poorly.
    Considering the game situation? THEN– his job was to take the professional foul and cut down the CF at midfield. Take the yellow. Save the points.

    Nonetheless. A player with every bit of athletic talent one could ask. With unnerving inability to misread or bung-up under pressure.

    My teeth get millimeters shorter each year he remains. 🙂


  28. jw1,

    Wow. I see your point, committed to getting close enough to touch his chest , but then not pulling him down. Plenty of cover, only a yellow. Both Papa and Holding would have either not gone so far in and got beat, or gone in and Stayed in! I would hope.
    However, wtf was Lacazette Thinking! Shit decision, shit execution.
    A lot of farting about all round. Bloody superbok hangover . Poisonous stuff

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