With both sides having recorded wins in their opening fixtures of the 2023/24 Premier League campaign, Crystal Palace welcomed Arsenal to Selhurst Park on Monday evening. A raucous crowd awaited the Gunners, who would look to build upon their win against Nottingham Forest last time out.
Notably, Mikel Arteta opted to keep Aaron Ramsdale as his starting goalkeeper against the Eagles – despite the recent arrival of David Raya on a season-long loan from Brentford. That move is expected to be made permanent come the end of the season.
Takehiro Tomiyasu came into Arsenal’s starting eleven, replacing Jurrien Timber who will face a prolonged period on the sidelines following a serious knee injury sustained at the Emirates last weekend.
CRY: Johnstone; Mitchell, Guéhi, Andersen, Ward; Doucouré, Lerma; Schlupp, Eze, Ayew; Édouard
ARS: Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, Saliba, White, Partey; Havertz, Rice, Ødegaard; Martinelli, Nketiah, Saka
The Gunners looked to threaten straight from kickoff and nullify the superb home support, with Havertz threading a ball through to Martinelli. The Brazilian’s effort was deflected away from danger by Guéhi, and Saka’s rebounded attempt was also hoofed away by the hosts.
Buoyed by the atmosphere, Palace sought to take the lead with fifteen minutes played in South London. Ayew’s probing cross was dealt with by Ramsdale though, but the goalkeeper was under the cosh just moments later. Schlupp’s sensational through ball for Édouard was blocked well by White, allowing the Arsenal shotstopper to smother the loose ball.
In what was rapidly developing into an end-to-end encounter, it was Arsenal that benefitted from the next key chance. Dispossessing Schupp, Saka picked out the run of Nketiah perfectly – but after jinking through the heart of the defence, the striker thumped his effort against the base of the far post.
Despite his crucial earlier block, it was a poor touch from White that allowed Ayew to dart beyond the defence and edge closer to goal – though a great recovery from Saliba spared the Englishman of his blushes.
The Gunners would enjoy two further chances before the interval, with Nketiah blasting his effort over the crossbar after finding himself one-on-one with Johnstone. Ødegaard’s curling effort from the edge of the box suffered the same fate, though the Palace ‘keeper was forced into action too.
A bright start to the second half saw Mitchell blast an unmet cross across the face of goal, but in a game of fine margins, it was the Gunners that found themselves presented with a golden opportunity to take the lead. A quickly-taken free-kick saw Martinelli feed Nketiah – and under pressure, Johnstone rushed to dispossess the youngster, sending him tumbling to the turf in the process.
From twelve yards out, Ødegaard made no mistake. A brief VAR check confirmed the referee’s on-field decision, and the Norwegian stepped up to the spot with remarkable composure to send Johnstone the wrong way.
But there was still a palpable optimism around Selhurst Park, and the hosts believed they could salvage at least a point from this fixture. Cue Ayew, who squandered a fabulous chance to restore parity as he blasted into the side netting following a neat pass from Lerma.
With Palace probing for an equaliser, Arteta’s side knew that they would need another goal if they were to be in control of their own destiny – but Saka’s cut-back pass to Partey resulted in the Ghanaian having his strike tipped over the bar by Johnstone.
Little over twenty minutes remained at Selhurst Park when Tomiyasu was shown his second yellow card of the evening, resulting in his dismissal. Turning to dance away from the left-back, Ayew tumbled to the ground under minimal contact from the defender – but David Coote felt it was worthy of a second booking.
The Eagles felt they should have been awarded a chance from twelve yards soon after, as Eze was sent crashing to the ground after becoming the filling in a Rice and Partey sandwich. Neither the on-field referee nor VAR were interested in the appeals of the home crowd though, and play was allowed to continue.
With the full-time whistle edging ever closer and the home desperation growing, Édouard glanced a headed effort wide of the far post after getting on the end of Mitchell’s cross. The chances would continue to arrive for the Frenchman, but Gabriel was able to clear as he awaited Ayew’s delivery at the near post.
Despite their best attempts to salvage a draw at home, Crystal Palace were defeated by Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal. They’ll hope for an improved result on the road at Brentford next Saturday, while Arsenal host Fulham in yet another all-London encounter.