Alexandre Lacazette scored a last-minute equaliser to earn Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal a point against Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace at the Emirates on Monday evening
The last gasp salvation should not paper over the cracks.
Alexandre Lacazette saved Arsenal with a 95th minute equaliser they barely deserved.
Patrick Vieira so nearly ruined his own homecoming party as Crystal Palace outfought, outwitted and outmanoeuvred Arsenal at the Emirates.
The home fans celebrated wildly when Lacazette rescued a point but the mood quickly changed as they trooped out of the Emirates feeling as if they have got the wrong former Arsenal captain in charge.
Mikel Arteta looks to be a manager struggling, struggling to get any kind of momentum going and, despite a blistering start, they lost their way in the game and gift wrapped both goals for the visitors.
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Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard turned the game on its head in the second half and if it had not been for Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale then it could have been worse.
Arsenal have every right to feel aggrieved that James McArthur was not sent off despite his outrageous foul on Bukayo Saka which bordered on assault.
Referee Mike Dean only produced a yellow card, VAR Peter Bankes did not upgrade it and yet that still cannot excuse the way they fell apart and let the game slip from their grasp.
Arsenal went on a mini revival, a three game winning run after an awful start and yet their win over Tottenham to overtake their North London rivals for nearly a week might just be the peak of their season.
Arsenal look miles off the pace under Arteta. The tactics did not work, the fans gave Vieira a hero’s reception on his return and they never had that much affection for Arteta during his time at the club.
The club broke the bank to support Arteta in the summer but if the players and the fans do not believe then it will not work. Vieira looks as if he is going places with Palace, he has galvanised the squad and, at the final whistle, he sunk to his knees in despair. He deserved more.
Now Arsenal face another huge game against Aston Villa on Friday night and another bad result will really leave the natives restless as this season and any hope of getting into Europe already appears to be slipping away.
Arsenal did at least start brightly and the opening goal came after just eight minutes. Nicolas Pepe exchanged passes with Takehiro Tomiyasu, Pepe curled a shot towards the far corner, Palace keeper Vicente Guaita clawed it away and Aubamayang scored from the rebound.
McArthur got away with his foul, Ramsdale – remember when fans questioned his £30m price tag – made a terrific save from Conor Gallagher and then Saka did not come out for the second half.
Palace levelled after 50 minutes. Thomas Partey was caught in possession, Jordan Ayew found Benteke who then buried a brilliant low shot in the far corner.
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Worse was to follow. Albert Sambi Lokonga – on for Saka – was dispossessed by Gallagher who drove forward before Edouard crashed a shot in off the underside of the bar.
Arsenal laid siege to the Palace goal. Kieran Tierney hit the bar and then Ben White’s shot was blocked on the line and Lacazette levelled deep into injury time.
They nicked a point but that will not be good enough. Too many underperforming players, a squad lacking direction and it feels like it is back to square one for Arteta.