Pepe Spoils Woy’s Farewell Party: Palace Report & Ratings

Red Hot Pepe

A patchy performance at Crystal Palace saw us extend our winning run to four consecutive games and leave us with an outside chance of securing the blessing/curse (delete as applicable) of a place in the new third tier of European competition.

A small number of home fans were allowed into the stadium and they made plenty of noise, not least because this was the last home game for manager Roy Hodgson before his retirement. That particular bond between manager and club is a strong one given that Roy supported Palace when he was a lad.

As LBG described in yesterday’s Post, Roy has been one of the most decent men in football, equally gracious in victory or defeat.

But there’s no place for sentiment once the ref blows the whistle and it was pleasing to see Arsenal play well enough to grab all three points.

We were wearing our new yellow away kit for the first time, about which I have this to say: the shirts are great (and are a nod to our 1971 Double-winning season) but they just don’t work without the dark blue shorts. Having shirts, shorts and socks all in the same shade of yellow made us look like a bunch of agitated bananas.

Palace under Hodgson have become a reliable mid-table team, always well-drilled and well organised, and they have had some success against us in recent years including a 3-0 thumping in 2017 towards the end of Arsene’s Wenger’s reign (a dismal evening fixture at which I had the misfortune to be present).

However, we have been on a generally upward curve since Boxing Day despite some supporters’ bewildering refusal to recognise the fact (if you compile a league table based only on results since Christmas we are third) so it was no real surprise that we came away with the win.

We showed plenty of good movement early on with Smith Rowe and Saka working well together and with Pepe having some success down our right flank. Clear-cut chances were few and once Palace settled down they posed a threat, particularly from set pieces and high balls into the box.

We took the lead in the 36th minute. Tierney and Saka worked a give-and-go down our left side, including an audacious back heel from Saka from which the Scot put in a perfect cross for Pepe to volley home with his weaker (right) foot. At half time we went in one up and looking comfortable.

Remembering the occasion, the Palace players showed a lot more determination in the second half, clearly hoping to get a result that would send Woy off happy into his sunset years. Leno was called on to make several smart saves (his recent form has been excellent) and we seemed to lose our way, particularly in midfield.

The Palace equaliser came in the 62nd minute when Benteke got in front of our defenders to powerfully head home a free kick from the edge of the six yard box. There were suspicions of a foul on Elneny and of a possible offside, but the VAR lottery came up trumps for Palace on this occasion and the goal stood.

Knowing we needed a win to maintain any hope of European football you would have expected some real urgency from the Arsenal players, but it was slow to emerge.

Immediately after the equaliser the tiring Saka was replaced with Odegaard, who probed consistently from the central attacking midfield position without ever being able to make anything happen. We seemed to have run out of ideas.

Arteta threw Martinelli into the fray on 77 minutes and the two substitutions finally paid off as we entered stoppage time. Odegaard pinged in a clever diagonal cross from the right that invited Martinelli to attack the ball. He got there marginally ahead of the defender and improvised to move it across goal off his thigh before slotting home.

Then in the final added minute (the 95th of the game) Pepe scored a terrific individual effort, cutting in from the left, bamboozling three defenders and tucking the ball home inside the far post.

In the end a comfortable win, but one that was not without its frustrating periods for us Gunners.

Now it’s all down to the final day where, if we beat Brighton and both Spuds and Everton fail to win, we will finish in seventh place and can start looking forward to some big European night games in Montenegro and Macedonia.

Such an outcome would not be to everyone’s taste, but surely we’d all be happy with a final day celebration of St Totteringham’s Day, right?

Player Ratings

Leno – 8

Made some top saves and continued his excellent form. He seems to have settled down with his passing out from the back as well and we were seldom troubled despite Palace’s occasional high press.

Chambers – 7

Contributed well at both ends and continued his good run. Is he removing the need to enter the market for a RB this summer?

Holding – 7

Reliable.

Gabriel – 6.5

His ball use is still shaky at times and he might have done better with Benteke’s goal, but his strength and speed were important for us on the night.

Tierney – 7

Solid outing despite having the crowd on his back for most of the game. His involvement in the opening goal was of the highest quality.

Partey – 6.5

Generally did well, although he lost the ball a few too many times during Palace’s good spell in the second half.

Elneny – 6.5

Same as Partey.

Pepe – 8.5 (MoTM)

Two superbly taken goals. Nico pestered the Palace left back all night and linked up well with his team mates. He is making progress and should be providing 15+ goals for us next season.

Smith Rowe – 7

Good in the first half, faded a little in the second.

Saka – 7.5

Always looking to make something happen, always taking on defenders. That back heel that led to our opening goal was sensational.

Aubameyang – 6

Another mostly anonymous outing from the captain.

Subs

Odegaard – 7

Plays on the front foot and supplied the assist for our all-important second goal.

Martinelli – 7.5

His goal was all about determination and drive. It will do his confidence a world of good and I hope he gets some decent game time against Brighton.

RockyLives

55 Responses to Pepe Spoils Woy’s Farewell Party: Palace Report & Ratings

  1. Silentstan says:

    Aubamayang 6 !!!!! What for?

  2. James Gunn says:

    Hey Fuck head. How about growing up and not making fun of someone for having a speech impediment? Clearly you have no grasp on actual comedy, or a shred of journalistic integrity, but then shitty people tend to create shitty things.

  3. RockyLives says:

    Silentstan
    If I gave him any less he might sulk.

    James Gunn
    You appear to have your own speech impediment – the inability to form a sentence without the use of expletives. Tourettes, perhaps?

  4. LBG says:

    Thanks Rocky
    Points of interest(fact) :- 1. We should have been playing against 9 men. ( where in the rules does it say it all depends how hard you hit someone on the chin)
    2. VAR couldn’t even get its f****** lines on the screen for Palace’s non-goal.
    3. Aubang can get as annoyed as he likes at Tierney. If I was on the pitch I would ignore him! You dont want it man! Dont want to challenge. Dont want to get a scratch. Dont REALLY care, and in that epitomise much of what we have witnessed for years.
    4. That’s how to cross from the byline, Kieran, and loved how you took the booing from the brainless Palace fans.
    5. Sorry Rocky, Pepe was innocuous for 99.8% of the game…..but he scored twice. I’ll take it.
    6. BOdeguard’s pass to Martinelli was Ozil like. Farewell sir, we have loved almost all of it.

    And so last day frolics are pending- Chelski fifth, Spursey or West Ham seventh, and a very satisfying season will end for me smiling broadly.

  5. LBG says:

    Hey Gunn!
    Shitty people sometimes drop their load on here. Bye, sir, enjoy your summer!

  6. RC78 says:

    Arteta had some positive words about Pepe after the game. Saying that he has more focus and hunger. His numbers are about 10 times better than Zaha for example…just saying…Ultimately, we should keep him next year and I would even say extend him by a year in case we want to sell him at the end of next season…Let us hope he can give us a season with double-figures in both goals and assists next year.

    I agree that Odegaard has some class about him but we do not need him IMHO. We have ESR and then we have some players like Willock and Azeez who can be given a shot too at the advance central midfield.

    The main issue this season has been Auba’s poor form and even attitude. I hope we can rediscover the original Auba next year because there is no way he is leaving us this summer with the bumper deal he has.

    Arteta also had praise for Martinelli…

    We have a promising rather young squad with Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Pepe, ESR, Saka, Martinelli and I would even add Balogun to the group so now it is a matter of making sure they all perform well on a consistent basis. Let us hope for a strong finish this season, a falter from Chelsea and Tottenham and an ambitious and successful transfer window.

  7. Brian Newell says:

    Disgraceful headline, you should be ashamed. Hodgson’s name is ROY. Have some respect and apologise.

  8. RockyLives says:

    There is quite a big Auba question hanging over the club this summer (in my humble).

    Right now I would rather cash in on Auba and keep Lacazette. The money we would get for Auba would have to be invested in a new striker as I don’t see Eddie or Balogun being ready yet.

    It seems that the way Arteta wants us to play just does not suit a player like Aubameyang. We need more of an all-rounder striker who will battle a bit more than Auba does and who can play with back to goal as well as when facing the goal.

  9. RockyLives says:

    Brian
    “Woy” has long been an affectionate nickname for Roy Hodgson, even embraced by the man himself on occasion.

    What troubles me, though, is that you seem to assume that the way he speaks is some sort of disability or embarrassment.

    It’s an astonishingly prejudiced viewpoint. Antediluvian, indeed.

    We all pronounce words in our own different ways; no two people do it in exactly the same way. Are we all to see our individual speech peculiarities as deformities?

    What an uncharitable and stigmatising outlook you have.

  10. allezkev says:

    When Arsene Wenger signed Calum Chambers he was probably the highest rated young English right back around, it was seen as a bit of a coup by AW.

    Since then he’s been on a convoluted journey via Fulham and M’Boro to get back to where he started from, so maybe Arteta and his coaches deserve some credit for that, but yes I agree Calum could solve a problem and save the club a few bob.

  11. James Gunn says:

    So instead of being a man and apologising, and admitting that you were wrong, you’ve decided to double down on your bullshit. How embarrassing.

    Roy Hodgson’s speech impairment, known as “Rhotacism”, is well known and studied. Suggesting that this is just a “pronunciation difference” is reductive, ableist and idiotic. Would you suggest that someone with cerebral palsy simply “walks differently”?

    Speech impairments have a variety of causes, from birth defects to brain damage due to stroke, none of which are a source of comedy to a well-rounded person.

    You don’t get to decide whether a persons lifelong affliction qualifies as a disability, or whether it is merely “an embarrassment”, or a pronunciation difference. And it’s downright shitty of you to do that.

    Moreover, having never met the man, you don’t get to decide on which nicknames are affectionate to him.

    Perhaps you should ask one of the many thousands of children who are bullied for having a speech impairment, how stigmatised they would feel about a shitty jibe such as yours?

    I suggest you do some much needed research on the subject of speech impairments and disorders, then some much needed self-reflection.

  12. RockyLives says:

    James

    You have never met me yet you feel entitled to address me with profanity and abuse.

    It’s no good now trying to act all reasonable and informed. You revealed yourself in your first comment.

    Now away with you. You are an unserious person.

  13. RC78 says:

    Calum Chambers could stay with us this summer in the end. He would basically be a squad player. It is rather expected that:

    1. We will invest in a starting RB and sell Bellerin.
    2. We will invest in a back-up LB and sell Soares.

    Defenders expected to stay:
    A) Chambers, Holding, Mari, Gabriel, Tierney
    B) Mavro may come back unless we want to cash in on him
    C) Saliba will be loaned out again but probably in the EPL

    So for us, it is about getting a new RB and a back-up LB. Now the question is if Mavro does not come back, do we go in the market for a CB. If we do go for a CB, what is the profile? I d go for a Tarkowski, type of defender…If we want a starter, Romero from Atalanta or Koulibaly from Napoli are of course great options…

    I d be happy with:

    Starters: Emerson, Holding, Gabs, Tierney
    Back-up: Chambo, Tarko, Mari, Bertrand

    but then again, this is vry much fantasy football and we don’t know what will happen…

  14. RockyLives says:

    I’d be OK with us not buying a new RB and giving Chambers a proper run at the role.

  15. RC78 says:

    I am not as confident about Chambers…lol

  16. RC78 says:

    The other mentioned player at RB lately has been Max Aarons and then also Lamptey.

    There is also a strong chance to see Willian leave and be replaced by Buendia.

    Bruce wants to sign Willock permanently.

  17. RockyLives says:

    RC

    I don’t think Newcastle have the money to sign Willock do they? Especially as his value will have greatly increased during his Newcastle loan spell.

  18. RC78 says:

    The very positive thing is that we have a rather young squad and it clearly has high potential especially with Saka, ESR and Martinelli.

    What I am afraid of is that we will let Laca go because we need cash and there is no way Auba leaves. I think Laca will be joined by Nketiah and we need suitable replacement for Laca. I am a fan of Milik as you know – he is very lethal but he is not as great in link up play. Then there is an upcoming player but would need to put in a shift at the gym called Alex Isaak – he is very talented, great technique, great speed too but would his recruitment stall Balogun? Maybe…Or we could also explore the Patrick Bamford option?

    FW: Saka, Pepe, Auba, Martinelli, Bamford, Balogun ?

  19. RC78 says:

    Newcastle can always put all their eggs in the Willock basket…He can’t be more than 20-25 Mln EUR, or?

  20. RockyLives says:

    RC
    Being ‘home grown’ and young I suspect Willock would have been about £15-18m when he went on loan.

    Now? More like £25-30m.

  21. RC78 says:

    I think we should not slow down his development. Why not sell him to Newcastle with a buy-back clause active for 2 years?

    What do you think?

  22. RockyLives says:

    Either bring him back him to play for us and develop with us or sell to the highest bidder (probably not Newcastle).

  23. RC78 says:

    I am hoping that we also do not get fooled by Leno’s recent good form. He is not good enough for us. Let us sell him back to Germany or somewhere else.

    Selling Willock to the highest bidder works for me.

  24. LBG says:

    RC
    Bring Willock home. Amazed you think Saliba will go out on loan again. Thought you were convinced Mavrapanos was away and Saliba would get his chance.
    Chambers has not only settled into right back, he is also 200% better than Pepe at crossing the ball.

  25. LBG says:

    RC
    Also think Leno has improved. Coming for and catching crosses, and noone can criticise his shot stopping. Keep Ryan and save money.

  26. RockyLives says:

    LBG

    I’ve also noticed that improvement from Leno: has there been a change in our GK coaching team? His all-round game seems much better.

    I don’t see GK as being a priority this summer. Of course there are better options, but he’s not one of our biggest problems.

  27. RC78 says:

    Leno is a liability for sure…imho I d rather sell him now as he has 2 years left on his contract and buy a very good GK. Keep Ryan and get us a reliable GK to start…

    I have seen Saliba in Nice and he still has his “Varane” type of air but he is not yet close to being a starter or even a sub for AFC. He needs game time in the EPL. Based on what Arteta has said recently, I think he will be loaned out again.

    As for Mavropanos, I think we will strongly consider keeping him BUT if we need cash, he can be sold at a very good price at the moment so it will be purely economics with him…but he could definitely be our fourth CB…My feeling is that Arteta will want to have an experienced defender join the team to replace Luiz – it could be Ramos or it could be Tarkowski or Chiellini or Cahill or…but we will see an older CB face join us…

    As for Chambers, I think he is good but he is not very good at RB. He will never be. He is a good player when he is fit – which is also a concern. I d rather manage him as a sub and Cup player tbh. I think Emerson or Aarons could be better than him at RB.

    As for Pepe, he has clearly improved and I am really hoping that he will be a key player for us next year. He has been good for us in the Europa League and his good form recently has also helped us in the League so we are still waiting for the best version of Pepe but I have hope…

    Saka, ESR, Martinelli could be starting for us
    Pepe, Willock (?), Buendia (?) could be our back-up. What do you say?

    There is also one player that failed at Man Utd but who is available on a free now and may want to prove his EPL critics wrong by succeeding with us…Depay. Depay has been nothing short of phenomenal in the Ligue 1 this season. He has really beefed up his game – he is much better at creating, dribbling and scoring. He is free and he could play on the left, center and front of the attack. He could also help Martinelli improve his game and his passing would also help create so for me, we may need to take a close look at t look at Depay…

  28. RC78 says:

    I am also convinced (sadly) that we will sell Lacazette this summer 😦

  29. RC78 says:

    and then if you want someone to come in to play behind a striker, why not also have a look at Che Adams? I am convinced he will come good and could be a great alternative to ESR…

  30. allezkev says:

    Chambers has shown he is quite capable of overlapping down the flank and putting over some decent crosses he is also quite tall and that adds to our ability to defend against corners and free kicks, the more he plays the better he’ll become, also in 12 months time Norton Cuffy should have developed into the full back he’s expected to be by the coaching staff and I don’t want some expensive signing blocking his his progress, so I’d stick with Calum for now.

  31. LBG says:

    RC
    Have to disagree with you on Leno at the moment then, AND disagree vehemently that we do not need an experienced, old, expensive, another Luiz or worse, CB as replacement.
    Depay, sorry, please gives us a break, RC. Still friends though!! Use the yoof.

  32. LBG says:

    Che Adams, unbelievable 😉

  33. RC78 says:

    LBG – somebody gotta make some disputable suggestions on this site, no? If not a French man, then who? 😛

  34. LBG says:

    RC
    The implication that you as our knowledgeable, resident Frenchman are trying to shake up the complacent British and colonial representatives on the site, is almost a declaration of war, sir!

  35. RC78 says:

    LBG – La Revolution est en marche sur le site 😛

  36. allezkev says:

    Cheers for that Fred

  37. RC78 says:

    Fred – I am still 100% convinced that he is not good enough to be our first choice RB next year nor in the future. We need an upgrade there. I appreciate his commitment and hard work but not good enough to be a starter at RB imho. That said, he is definitely an upgrade from Bellerin and Soares…

  38. RockyLives says:

    Fred
    That’s a nice showreel for CC.

    Some great crosses and some terrific tackles.

  39. RockyLives says:

    RC

    Zut alors!

    La Revolution, c’est toi!

  40. RC78 says:

    Rocky – I saved a post in the draft for tomorrow.

  41. RC78 says:

    Feel free to amend it or post it as it is 🙂

  42. RockyLives says:

    Thanks RC

  43. RC78 says:

    On another note, a lot of AFC players inducted in the EPL Hall of Fame so far with Henry and Bergkamp already…

    How Beckham made it ahead of players like Vieira, Wright, Schmeichel, Scholes still beats me…?

  44. RockyLives says:

    RC

    England captains will always be favoured above those Johnnie Foreigner types, unfortunately.

    In fairness I think Beckham was a player who made the absolute very best of his talents. He was slow and somewhat limited, but he had the best right foot in the game for a while.

  45. LBG says:

    Rocky
    Got agree ( reluctantly, of course) with the Frenchman about Beckham. Vieira, Wright, Pires, Brady, Seaman, Gilberto……..all more worthy!😁

  46. LBG says:

    PS
    ….Lauren, Radford, Kennedy, Adams, Keown, Graham……..

  47. fred1266 says:

    Rc78 u mentioned selling willock one more time and I promise it would be the last word u ever type

  48. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Rocky
    Another game of inconsistency that we fortunately pulled through. We were pretty awful for much of the 2nd half but displayed some top level moments that clinched us the game.

    It’s weird how much of a yoyo team we can be, not just game to game but also within the same game. We literally go from stringing some play together that Man City would be happy with to playing like a Pulis team all within the same game.

    Our manager right now is a bit similar in that he sometimes gets us on point and looking fantastic and then gets us playing like a championship side. He’s done enough to continue with and see where it’s going in the first half of next season.

    On players leaving us and players coming in I stick by my guns that we should mostly recruit from an EPL ready player pool. We need to hit the ground running and we don’t need more “development”players than we already have.

    I’d rather just stick with giving the likes of Willock and Nelson more of a go. Similar with even the experiences players. I wouldn’t see any merit in letting Luiz go and bringing Ramos in. At his age there is no assurance that Ramos could handle the modern EPL but at least we know Luiz can.

    If we are losing Luiz I would suggest we take a chance on Saliba and Mavropanous stepping up quickly. They are showing enough to suggest they are close

    Pepe is a prime example of a player who has taken time to adapt so I wouldn’t really want another player tearing it up somewhere else and then taking the best part if a season to adapt here. The Chelsea players like Havertz, Ziyech and Werner also back this adaptation argument.

    We can look at players like Ings if we need a striker or Traore of Wolves if we need another attacking midfielder.

    The one player I would consider that RC mentioned was Depay because he has already been here and been exposed to it. There is history in a returning player being successful in a 2nd EPL stint when the first one was a bit meh. Salah, De Bruyne anyone. So Depay in a free should be looked into more.

  49. RockyLives says:

    Gooner B

    Very sound comment.

  50. RC78 says:

    @Fred – I think we should consider selling Willock 😛

    @LBG – I agree we need EPL ready so players like Aarons, Tarkowski, Cahill, Buendia, Bertrand, Ward-Prowse, Bamford, Depay should be looked at closely…

  51. RC78 says:

    @GoonerB – not LBG. Sorry

  52. LBG says:

    RC
    Mistaken for GoonerBolleaux! That is war!

  53. RockyLives says:

    New Post

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