17th April 2016: Poor Arsenal punished by Palace

Sunday greetings. So a poor game played in front of a near-silent home support ended in a 1-1 draw as a lackluster Arsenal were pegged back from a goal ahead by a Crystal Palace side who only ventured out of their own half in the final ten minutes or so.

Arsene Wenger restored Petr Cech between the posts in the only change to our starting line-up from last week’s draw at West Ham, and having been criticized for leaving him out against the Hammers, the former Chelsea stopper was arguably at fault for Palace’s goal today, as he let Yannick Bolasie’s low, long-range effort beat him at his near post with nine minutes of normal time to play.

We had taken the lead late in the first half after Danny Welbeck’s brilliant chipped pass was headed home from close-range by Alexis Sanchez, but despite dominating possession in the opening period, we failed to fashion many clear-cut chances against a visiting team intent on doing nothing but defend.

I won’t go into individual performances because there’s little to say other than collectively, we looked like a team knew the title was realistically beyond reach and now just want this depressingly familiar season to end – much like me if I’m honest.

After the game, Arsene said:

They defended well. We put a lot of effort in but came out with a frustrating result. It is hard to accept but the competition goes on and we focus on the next one. I don’t know how it works mathematically but we are too disappointed to think about the league. We have to think about the Champions League and fight to be in the Champions League. We have another home game on Thursday and have to prepare for that.

And that’s the point – we now need to focus on securing a top four finish because having started the weekend in third, we end it a place lower, trailing Manchester City on goal difference and with our lead over Manchester United in fifth cut to just four points.

There has been much speculation in recent weeks that the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs may be moved on this summer and frankly, if the rest of the squad joined them in an unprecedented fire-sale to make way for 25 new faces, I’m not sure I’d be that bothered. It won’t happen of course because this isn’t fantasy, it’s football, but that’s the way this Arsenal team makes me feel sometimes. *Sigh*

So the countdown to Thursday night’s clash with West Brom begins. I can’t wait …

See you next week.

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