Sunday 19 March 2023

Arsenal 4-1 Palace

An early second-half goal from Xhaka, fed by Trossard, made Arsenal feel a little more relaxed, especially as Zaha had forced a save out of Ramsdale not long before that.

Being three goals to the good provided the perfect opportunity for Arteta to introduce Jesus to give him some much-needed minutes, but then Palace pulled one back from a corner. Or did they? It was checked by VAR. No handball. Schlupp had scored.

Nevertheless, Zinchenko and Trossard left the field just afterwards, to be replaced by Jesus and Tierney with 25 minutes remaining.

Zaha's low shot just wide of the far post, after being fed by Schlupp, showed the game was far from over.

However, the three-goal lead was re-established when Saka finished Tierney's cross. Although Jesus was in an offside position, VAR deemed him not to be interfering with play. 

Then Xhaka gave away a silly free kick by pushing Zaha over. Odegaard played the draft excluder in the wall, which stood up strongly to Olise's chipped dead ball.

With nine minutes left,  White was replaced by Smith-Rowe with Partey moving to right back, while Martinelli substitute was Jorginho. Initially, it looked like Saka would go off, but the next to leave the pitch was Gabriel, who was replaced by Kiwior, making his league debut. The Polish defender made an excellent tackle late on to deny Zaha, who had left Holding in his wake.

On this form, Arsenal have a good chance to win the title, despite or because of crashing out of the Europa League. There are tough games to come, so Arsenal need to somehow continue their winning run. It's Arsenal's sixth consecutive league win and it opens up an eight-point gap, but Man City have a game in hand and a superior goal difference. As the old cliche goes: it's not over until the rather round gender-neutral person sings.

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