Arsenal 4 – 1C Palace

Arsenal moved eight points clear at the top of the Premier League with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace, without a manager.

With Manchester City in the FA Cup on Saturday, the Gunners used the opportunity to extend their lead against a Palace side led by caretaker boss Paddy McCarthy after Patrick Vieira was sacked on Friday.

Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka both scored in the first half, but only after the visitors found themselves a hair’s breadth away from the lead when Wilfried Zaha’s early effort returned the post.

Granit Xhaka added a third shortly after the break to wrap up the points but Palace, winless in their last 13 games in all competitions, scored their first goal in five games when Jeffrey Schlupp turned in from close range in a corner.

Saka, however, scored his second and Arsenal’s fourth to pile the misery on Palace, who sit three points above the relegation zone.

Player ratings:

Arsenal: Ramsdale (6); White (7), Holding (7), Gabriel (7), Zinchenko (7); Partey (7), Xhaka (8); Saka (9), Odegaard (8), Martinelli (8); Trosard (7).

Subtitles: Jesus (6), Tierney (7), Smith Rowe (n/a), Jorginho (n/a), Kiwior (n/a).

Crystal Palace: Whitworth (5); Ward (5), Tomkins (5), Gehi (5), Mitchell (5); Milivojevic (6), Doucouré (6), Schlupp (7); Olise (6), Edward (6), Zaha (7).

Subtitles: Ayew (6), Hughes (6), Eze (n/a), Ahamada (n/a).

Player of the game: Bukayo Saka

How Arsenal swept Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace were forced into a late change with Joachim Andersen injured in the warm-up and replaced by James Tomkins, but they started fast and nearly led when Zaha was played from behind and sent a low shot from the left post. Odsonne Edouard was then released beyond the Arsenal defense despite being ruled offside after Aaron Ramsdale saved in a one-on-one.

It took Arsenal 18 minutes to fire their first shot as teenager Joe Whitworth fended off Martin Odegaard’s effort from the edge of the box.

Scorers Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli celebrate during Arsenal’s clash with Crystal Palace

The hosts were increasing the pressure down Palace’s left and eventually Saka crossed for Martinelli, who moved the ball to his left foot, gaining a yard past Joel Ward, before shooting Whitworth and into the bottom right corner for his sixth goal as many Premier League games.

Team News:

  • Gabriel Jesus started on the bench with William Saliba not in the Arsenal squad due to a back complaint. Rob Holding made his first Premier League start since the final day of last season. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Eddie Nketiah were also not part of the matchday squad.
  • Crystal Palace caretaker manager Paddy McCarthy has made two changes from the side beaten 1-0 by Brighton in Patrick Vieira’s last game. Nathaniel Clyne fell to the bench, replaced by Joel Ward, and Luka Milivojevic started in place of Albert Sambi Lokonga, who was ineligible to face his parent club.
  • 19-year-old goalkeeper Joe Whitworth retained his place in goal, only his second Premier League start in the continued absence of Vicente Guaita.

From then on, Arsenal were in control. Odegaard rolled a shot wide past the right post before Saka added the second. Ben White slipped it, the winger drifting behind Mitchell inside the box before driving into the corner.

Granit Xhaka walks away in celebration after putting Arsenal 3-0 up against Crystal Palace
Granit Xhaka walks away in celebration after putting Arsenal 3-0 up against Crystal Palace

Zaha stung Ramsdale’s palms as Palace threatened a comeback early in the second half, but soon Xhaka came in from close range to seal the points on 55 minutes.

Schlupp gave the traveling support something to celebrate when he turned in a close range corner and things could have been made interesting if Zaha hadn’t rolled the ball a few inches at an angle with more 15 minutes to play.

Saka ensured there would be no late drama, leaning home after substitute Kieran Tierney’s setback to cap off a fine afternoon.

Opta stats: Saka hits double goals and assists

  • Arsenal secured their 22nd Premier League win of the season, as many as they managed last season, and the most wins for the Gunners in their first 28 matches of a league campaign.
  • Crystal Palace remain one of only two teams to have won a league game in the English top four in 2023 (P12 W0 D5 L7), along with League One’s Forest Green.
  • Bukayo Saka (12 goals, 10 assists) has become the first player to reach both 10+ goals and 10+ assists in the Premier League this season. He is the first Arsenal player to reach double both in a Premier League campaign since Alexis Sánchez in 2016-17 (24 goals, 10 assists), and only the second Englishman to do so for the Gunners, after Theo Walcott in 2012-13 (14 goals, 10 assists).
  • Leandro Trossard has assisted six goals in 10 Premier League games for Arsenal, at least twice as many as any other player in the competition since making his club debut in January. It’s also more assists than the Belgian has provided in 50 Premier League appearances for Brighton since the start of last season (5).

Fantasy Premier League Stats

Arsenal vs Crystal Palace FPL Stats

Goals Martinelli, Saka (2), Xhaka | Schlupp
Aids Saka, White, Trossard, Tierney
Bonus points Saka (3pts), Xhaka (2pts), Schlupp (1pt)

Play Fantasy Premier League and see more stats here

And after?

Arsenal continue their quest for the title when they host threatened with relegation Leeds Saturday, April 1 at 3 p.m. They then head to liverpool Sunday, April 9, live on sky sports.

When crystal palace returning after the international break in March, their next six matches are against teams below them in the table. The last time the Eagles faced a side below them in the league was against Bournemouth on New Year’s Eve in 2022, which was Vieira’s last win in charge.

Palace face relegation rivals Leicester home Saturday, April 1 at 3 p.m. before heading to Leeds Sunday, April 9. Other big games will follow Southampton then home for Everton.

Sky Sports

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