If Meghan and Harry have taught us anything it’s that you don’t escape from the Palace unscathed.
And scathed we most certainly were: by VAR (again), by the “excessive force” rule, by an unlucky deflection (again), by injuries (again) and by erratic officiating (again).
Our 1-1 draw away at Crystal Palace was a mixed bag and will have given Mikel Arteta plenty to think about.
We started with the same 11 that started against Manchester United, with Torreira as the holding midfielder, Ozil behind the front three and Pepe out wide, and we picked up right where we’d left off against the Mancs.
We were terrific for half an hour, dominating play and possession and getting a deserved goal from Aubameyang after a lovely passing move. The final two touches, from Ozil and Lacazatte, were sublime and Auba stroked the ball into the corner of the net in Henryesque style.
But after 30 minutes the mood changed. You expect any Premier League team to have periods where it refuses to let you call all the shots (particularly when they’re the home team) and, sure enough, Palace came back at us hard.
I’m not sure whether it was something that clicked in the minds of the Palace players organically or whether there was an instruction from the bench, but our opponents suddenly turned into Wimbledon circa 1987.
(If you don’t remember the Wimbledon “Crazy Gang”, with such charming characters as Vinnie Jones, John Fashanu, Mick Harford and Dennis Wise, look at some old footage of probably the dirtiest and hardest team ever to play at the top flight. You’ll find the video in the Horror section. The only team that wasn’t intimidated by them was Tony Adams’s Arsenal – but that’s another story for another day).
The Palace players started throwing themselves into challenges, fouling us at every opportunity and, frankly, bullying us. The referee, Paul Tierney (sadly no relation), could have put a stop to it with a couple of yellow cards but he let most of the nastiness go. The noisy home fans were clearly intimidating him. Every time a Palace player went to ground after a mild coming together the fans would scream with outrage and the ref would dutifully award the free kick against Arsenal.
Whenever an Arsenal man stayed on the ground after yet another filthy tackle the crowd would burst into “same old Arsenal, always cheating” and the ref would mostly allow play to go on.
The result was that no yellow card was shown to a Palace man until the 71st minute, which was ridiculous.
Nevertheless we weathered the storm to half time without too much in the way of chances for Palace.
The bad news started when the team came out for the second half. Lucas Torreira, who has blossomed in the defensive midfield position since Arteta took over, did not take the field. He had been kicked from pillar to post in the first half and could not continue. At the time of writing I don’t know what his injury is but I hope it’s not serious.
Guendouzi replaced him but losing the Uruguayan affected our shape and balance, with Xhaka having to drop back into the more overtly holding role.
Palace continued to play dirty, the ref continued to let them and the game was not a great spectacle. Despite the fouls, we were holding our own but could not get any grip on possession. Ozil was mostly uninvolved and Kolasinac and Maitland-Niles were not getting forward as much as we would have liked.
Misfortune struck in the 54th minute. A Palace attack saw the ball fall to Jordan Ayew in the box. His shot took a huge deflection off Luiz and looped over Leno into the net.
It was disappointing and unlucky, but if I was an Eagles supporter I would probably feel my team deserved it if only for the amount of physical effort they were putting in.
As I’m not an Eagles supporter I think the dirty, cheating, scummy little toe-rags were lucky as hell and deserved nothing.
A little over 10 minutes later Aubameyang arrived late for a tackle on Palace midfielder Max Meyer and caught the German on the ankle. The referee brandished a yellow, but then the dread news emerged that the VAR official was checking the incident. Arsenal hearts sank throughout the land. Sure enough, with our VAR luck, the yellow was changed to a red and our captain was off.
There was an informative discussion on the blog after this incident. LBG pointed out that the recent rule about excessive force compelled the VAR official to interpret Auba’s challenge as worthy of a sending off.
If them’s the rules then them’s the rules, but to me the punishment is completely lacking in proportionality and common sense. Everyone in the game knows Aubameyang is not a dirty player. He was clearly going for the ball and just got it wrong. A red card and a likely three match ban for what was probably his only serious foul all season? Does that seem just? Not when Ayew could commit eight fouls (some of them really nasty) and not even pick up a yellow. (“I looked over Jordan, what did I see… a two-bob thug who shouldn’t have been on the pitch when he got his jammy goal…”).
The largely anonymous Ozil was replaced by Martinelli immediately afterwards. Arteta clearly did not think a 10 versus 11 battle against a dirty, physical team was the right forum for Ozil to shine and I can’t say I would disagree with him.
Funnily enough, after going down to 10 men we had a better spell and posed more of a threat to the Palace goal than we had since the opening half hour. Our best chance to nick it came from a nice move that concluded with Lacazette laying the ball off to Pepe, whose low left foot shot came back off the post and straight into the arms of Guaita, the Palace ‘keeper. Replays showed that Guaita got the tiniest of touches on Pepe’s shot, which otherwise would have gone in.
Nelson came on for Lacazette in the dying minutes, but the game petered out with Palace probably the happier of the two teams having come from behind to salvage a point.
- We maintained our shape well throughout the whole game (even when under intense pressure) and the doom mongers who are saying we reverted to an Emery like performance should bear that in mind.
- Our corners, delivered by Pepe, are looking really dangerous. Luiz was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet with a header from one of the four that we had and all of them caused alarm in the Palace defence.
- We’re continuing our unbeaten run under Mikel Arteta since the Chelsea game. [Thanks to Ray for pointing out my earlier error that we were unbeaten under MA. I had blanked the Chelsea defeat for some reason].
- There were signs that our confidence can still suffer when we’re forced on the back foot. We’re carrying mental scars from the last 18 months and they’ll take time to heal.
- Possibly (probably?) losing Aubameyang for three games.
- Ozil had one of those games, or at least he did after the first half hour. I wonder what Arteta will make of his performance?
No chance for the goal. The fact that he had little else to do shows that our system is working much better than under Emery (Palace had only three attempts on target).
Didn’t do a lot wrong and marshalled the tricky Zaha well. Might have got forward more.
Battling performance from the Greek Colossus.
Luiz 7 (MoTM)
Good game from Daviiiiid. Won a lot of balls in the air and was comfortable in possession. Unlucky not to get a goal.
Very good for the first 30, then was a bit more subdued as Palace came into the game. Took some pretty hefty fouls.
Looks so comfortable in his preferred position. Was mercilessly hacked by the Palace players and given no protection by a weak ref. Sad to lose him at half time. Would probably have been MoTM if he’d stayed on.
Forced back into the holding role in the second half. Kept the ball moving in midfield but not one of his better outings.
Was involved in some nice moves in the first 30 then drifted out of the game. We need more from him when the going gets tough.
Some good moments, some beautiful whipped-in corners and hit the post with a late effort. But lost the ball too easily too often. Plenty of room for improvement.
Tireless. Great assist for the goal. Would have had a second assist but for Pepe’s shot coming back off the post. Didn’t get any real chances to score himself and was booked for repeated fouling, which was laughable when you saw what the Palace players were getting away with.
Lovely finish for his goal. The tackle that saw him sent off was wild but hardly deserving of a red card and three match ban.
Plenty of running and energy, but he’s still raw and it shows at times.
Came on for the final 25 and definitely added something, as he usually does. Aubameyang’s suspension may give him some well-deserved opportunities to start.
Came on in injury time.
Thank you Rocky for the post. I felt very dispirited after the game …… went around hoovering up any chocolate I could find 😳 …… but the goal was a beauty and with a small sprinkling of fairy dust Pepe’s shot would have gone in as would Luiz’s header from an excellent corner.
Rubbish bad luck with Auba’s red card and Torreira’s injury but a nice long week to recover.
Twat typical arsenal comments
A classic masterpiece, Rocky!
” Thems the rules”………the rules is an ass (arse, pile of shite, spoiling everything about our game.)
They dont like us, we dont care….pick em up and go again, Mikel!
Great read Rocky, thank you, raging tooth ache at the moment so a bit quiet.
That comment above from the CP fan made me smile as well.
Go boil your head, and support your team.
Good Morning, All, and thank you for the Post, Rocky,
An interesting, and undoubtedly accurate summary of an ultimately disappointing game, tho with possibly more positives than negatives, as you highlighted, except for one remark, in the ‘positives’ that was unexpected and rather unfairly personal from my perspective.
I regret that, during the match comments, I made a comment that unintentionally drew your ire for expressing a concern I had, that after scoring we stopped pressing and allowed Palace to start going forward, which in turn resulted in our riskily passing the ball around our own penalty area, or slowly passing backwards and sideways from the halfway line, giving many of us palpitations, about a tactic which I, for one, had hoped had gone with the Emery era.
That does not make me a doom monger, and to be labelled like that after all these years is a bit sad.
The tactics I have mentioned are still a concern to me, and I am likely to express my dislike again, should the occasion re-occur, and as you have taken exception to that, it puts me in a difficult position, as I do not want to blog on AA, and deliberately antagonise you, or anyone else for that matter.
For the record, I still enjoy your Posts as much as I ever have, as well as all the other authors who give up their time to write and give the rest of us an enjoyable focal point to discuss all matters Arsenal.
Your perfectly reasonable comments were absolutely not in my mind when I mentioned doom mongers. I was reacting to some typically hysterical reactions I had read elsewhere in the Arsenal blogosphere after the match.
You know the sort of thing: “I told you we were rubbish, Arteta can’t change it, sell all the players… etc”
We tend to be a bit more polite on this blog, but thanks for your comment anyway.
Woy is doing a good job at Palace and, while I think your players were allowed to get away with being far too physical yesterday, I wish your lot well for the rest of the season. As London teams go, you’re way down the hate list of most Arsenal fans.
I share your concern about the risky passing around our penalty area. I was going to mention it in the report but I am conscious of not rambling on at even greater length 😀
Unbeaten under Arteta ?? Didn’t we lose to chelski.
Well, apart from that 😳
So managed to watch recorded MOTD. Not one mention of Ayew tackles. Cant also see why Robertsons tackle(s) are “different”.
Disappointed… but when lady luck isn’t on your side, there’s not a lot you can do about it!
When Torreira went off, that was when it changed, imo. He has a muscle injury, just hope he’s recovered by Saturday….the thought of being without him as well as Auba 😳
Onwards and Upwards 🙏
Nice post, btw, Rocky..
Robertson was never going to get booked!! VAR were on their side yet again….
Listened to the game on the radio and we sounded brilliant in the early part of the game, so typically MotD ignored all that, except for our goal. Interesting that Xhaka’s No.1 fan, Danny Murphy, said that Aubameyang’s challenge only warranted a yellow. In real time it looked innocuous, only when it was slowed down did it look worse.
Surely the club will now block Martinelli from playing for Brazil…
You’d hope so Kev.
Here’s a question for anyone who knows the rules:
Is there any chance of Auba getting LESS than a three match ban?
For example, do they take previous good conduct (lack of yellow and red cards) into account?
Or is it a mandatory three games….?
Well that was a relief, Rocky, (@ 11:11 a.m 🙄
Red Cards and punishments thereof are mired in FA mists — but Law 12 shows the official barebones.
SERIOUS FOUL PLAY
A tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force or brutality must be sanctioned as serious foul play.
Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force or endangers the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.
Violent conduct is when a player uses or attempts to use excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball, or against a team-mate, team official, match official, spectator or any other person, regardless of whether contact is made.
In addition, a player who, when not challenging for the ball, deliberately strikes an opponent or any other person on the head or face with the hand or arm, is guilty of violent conduct unless the force used was negligible.
If a player is sent off for a professional foul (eg holding an opponent back when they’re through on goal) or a second bookable offence they will be handed a one-match ban.
Straight red cards for dissent will result in a two-match ban, while dangerous tackles or violent conduct will result in a three-match ban which can be raised to four or more games in extreme cases.
Incidents of racism will almost certainly result in a ban longer than three games while a red card for spitting triggers an automatic six-match ban.
Players who have been sent off will also be banned for a further match if they refuse to leave the pitch within a reasonable time period after receiving a red card.
In the Champions League and Europa League, players will miss one match if they are sent off.
Players can appeal against a red card (not a yellow card) but if the appeal is considered frivolous, a 3 match ban can be increased to 4 matches – but if there are valid reasons for the appeal a 3 match ban can be reduced to 2 or 1 match bans.
I suspect Arsenal will not appeal, as altho the VAR ref should NOT have used the slo-mo video to form his opinion, and should have relied on a real-time basis, the cat is out of the bag, and any judgement will inevitably be biased by what was shown.
Clear as ditch water, I suspect.
Thanks Rocky, I’m glad you highlighted Luiz’s more statesman like performances under Mikel. He has turned into the leader at the back we needed and looks pretty good when he drives play forward.
I’m beginning to think we’re having another one of those seasons when we fail to take advantage of what should be easier fixtures when we have a chance to catch up/pass other teams – specifically the totts.
Having been an enthusiastic proponent of VAR, I now believe it should be scrapped until they can revise and settle on sensible laws for offside and handball etc. To use VAR in a season when the laws have been changed and are clearly leading to injustices on the pitch is ridiculous.
No malice or offence meant but this is an ignorant, moronic & biased piece of writing.
Football is a mans game and anyone who has played it, you seemingly haven’t or if you have you weren’t good, understands there are many different approaches and tactics to compete with the ultimate aim of winning or at the least not losing. Skill, athleticism, technique, fitness, stamina, strength, speed, aggression, effort, nous etc…..
That a technically superior football team with a far greater market value of personnel on the pitch, Arsenal, got outworked and outmuscled by a less technically adept team of lesser market value, Crystal Palace, should be an embarrassment to the team and football club and if I were a supporter of that team I would be embarrassed. Even more so if I were to moan and whine about it like a sissy. This piece simply highlights the flaws and lack of character and strength in this Arsenal team.
I was at the game and saw complete dominance by Arsenal for the 1st 30mins and a really good goal scored and from recollection the only decent effort on target, not counting the effort pushed onto the post for the entire game.
Crystal Palace then woke up and stopped showing Arsenal so much respect and collectively pressed higher and stopped allowing the ball to played around on the deck with the ease that they had been afforded.
These were tactics and efforts that Arsenal didn’t have an answer to and meant they were forced to play longer higher balls (which they didn’t do very well). This played to Crystal Palace’s strengths and, from a footballing perspective, any half decent defenders (Adams, Keown, Campbell, Cahill, Tomkins) strengths for any ball in the air is relatively easy to defend and head clear of danger or to a team mate. Cahill and Tomkins will always win more aerial duels vs Laca and Auba just like Luiz and Papa should win more aerial duels vs Ayew however the Arsenal defence were not as good or as strong as the Crystal Palace defence even though 3 of the 4 defenders in Arsenals back line are supposedly that of a ‘hard mans’ role. Arsenal are soft and essentially spineless and have been for years so to moan ignorantly like a sissy complaining of ‘Crazy Gang Wimbledon’ tactics is frankly idiotic. There were fouls throughout the game from both teams and if you look at the stats Arsenal were penalised for 22 fouls compared to Crystal Palace’s 14. The notion that Ayew is a thug is laughable when in fact pleasantly and surprisingly he is a very good footballer that was schooled at Marseille along with his 2 brothers and his father was not a bad player either. The man scored a goal and occupied Arsenals defence with aplomb & a decent amount of skill, strength & nous. In comparison Laca (assist asides) consistently committed fouls and was rightly booked though he should have been booked a lot sooner. Crystal Palace may have upped the aggression and efforts but so they should as should any team. Maybe if Arsenals team did the same they wouldn’t have come away with a draw against Crystal Palace.
Laca was penalised for 6 fouls and received a yellow. Maybe because they were not so ‘clever’ fouls and he gave the Ref little choice but to book him.
Ayew was penalised for 7 fouls and didn’t receive a yellow. Maybe in part because they were clever fouls that stop or slow down an attack but he was savvy enough to not give the Ref a reason to brandish a yellow card.
To note if you class Ayew as a two bob thug does that mean Laca is a one bob thug?
I felt sorry for Auba because he’s not a nasty player and he didn’t set out to hurt Meyer however the challenge was reckless and dangerous and in this era of football the red card was the correct decision. As a supporter I always think it’s best to support my team but be a realist and to not to blindly and ignorantly moan and whine about the opposition, referee etc……
“No malice or offence meant but this is an ignorant, moronic & biased piece of writing.”
Best opening line to a comment ever 😀 😀 😀
Ayew … clever fouls 😂😂
Your thoughtful, rose tinted comment is best summed up by the phrase “clever foul”. Like many a pundit, you seem to believe cheating is an acceptable part of our National game. I guess you will be one of those Palace fans who is happy when Wilf is hacked down game upon game, at full speed!!?
Looks like Mavropanos is off to FC Nurnberg on loan. Galatasaray are interested in Mustafi!
Could this mean a CB will be heading our way?
Good old Galatasaray…
As a follow up to DMac and Rocky’s “Excessive Farce”, I would like to know why it seems to be the case that only football, its players (professional and otherwise), some of its supporters, most of its pundits and media, that seems to believe “cheating”, sorry that’s my word for it, is not only acceptable but almost praiseworthy?
I played a bit of average football, but was far happier with the oval ball game into about 30 years old. In my time it was of course an amateur game, and full of good sportsmanship, play hard but fairly.
Nowadays it is of course professional and played by highly toned, fit and genuinely tough athletes it seems to me, far more worthy of praise for the way they play the game, than any footballer.
Of course rugby players have been known to “delay” the game illegally, to try to gain a small advantage here and there, but not only do they know it is illegal but so do the refs and consequently, in the modern game, far more players are sin binned and/or sent off than ever happens in football. And when they have done wrong they retreat, except their punishment and dont argue with the up holder of the rules. And if they dont, they lose another ten yards!!((A rule, I believe, that would change dramatically our National sport if introduced into football.)
In short, as an ex PE teacher and referee, I am regularly disappointed by our game and many who both play and watch it.
Anybody any views and want to shoot me down?
Rocky- solid post.
1st, vaR is $h*Te, as is their 4 dollar camera, and interpretations of the rules. In the nFl, the call can’t be changed on the field unless it is “clear and obvious.” Slowing everything down to a millisecond is not the way it is many times in real time, and makes it less “clear and obvious.” Auba deserved red, however zaHa should have seen yellow for his push of a player that resulted in two Arsenal players being hurt.
Sendondly, home team always gets an advantage of the ref’s, especially regarding fouling. Yet, palace bent the rules and got away with one yesterday. Yes, Ayew should have had yellow long before anyone else, and Jorginho should have been sent off, but that is the breaks.
The Arsenal should have eeked this game out, but just could not get the ball over the line.
Question for everyone: how many different ways can an Arsenal defender score an own goal? Damn, I have seen so many ways these last few years. The bottom of Luiz’s shoe was about the worst I have seen and my remote control went flying into a pillow across the room.
AMN had a great game, basically neutralized their best player for almost the entire game!
Arteta is moving this team forward, as it is easy to see, and in those 30 minutes we played better than 18 months of Emery’s sides, and the team goal was a thing of beauty.
dmAc, go back to cheering for stoKe mate.
Just need to get some fresh bodies for Arteta so we can finish 6th or higher, 3 wins in a row would go far in making that happen.
I agree that you have a good suggestion, LBG.
There are a couple of things I am not sure about as regards the ’10 metre” rule in both football and Rugby Union.
I recall that the FA introduced the 10 metre rule to the Premier League and the Championship in the early years of this century.
However, the FA abandoned it as an experiment after 4 years, because other countries would not accept it as a principle, although the UK referees found it a very useful deterrent.
I watch a lot of Rugby Union and Rugby League (Saracens and Wigan respectively).
I think the rule still applies in League, but I have not seen a 10 metre rule applied in Union for years.
[However I do not know for a fact if the rule still applies or not.]
I also agree that there is a lot less ‘cheating’ by players in either Union or League, but ….. it does happen, with the odd bite to ears in the scrum, or haymakers in the scrum or ruck.
Sour grapes from a team going backwards
Thanks for some really interesting comments.
If I’m reading it correctly, it looks like Auba’s three game ban is automatic. It’s a shame it’s such a rigid system – I feel there should be scope to bring a player’s previous disciplinary history into account.
In most criminal courts you will get a more lenient sentence for a first offence than if you have offended repeatedly. Not so in footy, it seems.
Couldn’t agree more. If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing about footy it would be to make all players play honestly: try to stay on their feet when receiving contact; not pretend to be fouled; when fouled not pretend to be injured; stop committing ‘clever’ fouls to break up opponents’ attacks etc etc.
One of the things that annoys me most is when a player has the ball and “senses contact” from an opponent coming into the back of them. The contact can be so mild that it wouldn’t unbalance an old granny with a peg leg, but you can guarantee that a 6ft tall, heavily muscled professional footballer will fall to the ground as if shot… and the ref will always – ALWAYS – give the free kick. I hate it.
Aaron @3.42 (and Rasp)
I agree with your comments about VAR. Unless they can sort it out they should dump it.
Aaron – I never think of deflections as own goals and if it was down to me a shot that goes in after a deflection would always be accredited as a goal to the striker who took the shot. If they didn’t shoot there would be no deflection and no goal. Far too many players are credited with an OG for something they can do nothing about. To me an OG should be when a player kicks or heads the ball into his own net (or throws/palms it in in the case of a ‘keeper).
You’re right about the 10 yard rule being tried in the EPL previously. I seem to remember it was quite good but got a bit strange when an offence was called on the edge of the box and then the ref invoked the 10 yard rule. There were occasions where there was a free kick deep in the penalty area with all the defenders lined up on the goal line.
Re 10yard rule.
Should have become an instant penalty.
Strange, I dont remember it being trialled at all. Must have been in another dimension at the time.
In order to go backwards you have to have been at sometime, forward!
Where’s LB hiding?
My 10.57 explains.
Got it LB – sorry missed that one for some reason.
Hope you’re feeling better.
Congratulations to Wayne Warren – fellow gooner – on winning the BDO World Darts championship 👍👏
Cannot believe Alyson Rudd in the Times this morning!!” We were the fouling team and Crystal Palace refused to be cowed”.
Well cow ed is right madam. You must have been watching a different Ayew!!
Good Morning All, and especially Sue, the Darts Lady, determined to convert us to the spears game! 😁
LBG’s annoyance at Alison Rudd’s article laying the blame for the fouling in the Palace game will be shared by many or all of us.
[And she is another Gooner, Sue — those Gooners cannot be trusted, you know,]
This type of journalistic comment is not unusual, and I put it down to the fact we are not very good at cheating (fouling) and the Palace fan, yesterday, touched on how pleased he was that Ayew and others got away with it.
Auba’s rubbish tackle was an example of an unexpected consequence of making a poor tackle, near the sideline, right by the midfield halfway line, and confirmed to some that we were big cheats.
Conversely that proved we were NOT big cheats/foulers because those who get away with the nudges, trips and being blown away like daisies when an opposition player breathes on them, as Rocky said, are well schooled in these dark arts — our players are not.
Perhaps they should be???
Umm – not sure that was right — I think it is dandelions, not daisies that blow away – dum.