Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace: Gunners go eight points clear at the top

Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace: Bukayo Saka scores twice with Gabriel Martinelli and Granit Xhaka also getting on the scoresheet as the Gunners move eight points clear at the top of the Premier League

  • Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka found the net in the first half for Arsenal 
  • Granit Xhaka and Saka scored after half time to help Arsenal to victory
  • Jeffrey Schlupp netted a consolation goal for the managerless visitors 

‘CRYSTAL Palace’ was spelt incorrectly on some of the paper tickets for this clash at the Emirates Stadium. No such errors on the pitch from Arsenal.

There are no signs of the capitulation that many predicted would come. No indication of the wheels, however slightly, coming off Arsenal’s title challenge.

Eight points clear at the Premier League summit with 10 games to go after this most clinical of victories over Palace – who remain without a win in 2023.

If Arsenal are going to stutter, then they are leaving it bloody late.

Of course, whether the Gunners can pip Manchester City to win their first championship since 2004 means diddly to Palace.

Bukayo Saka found the net twice as Arsenal picked up a comfortable win against Palace

Gabriel Martinelli also netted, opening the scoring with a left-footed shot into the corner

Granit Xhaka got on the scoresheet after a fine one-two with Leandro Trossard

The fact the ‘y’ and ’s’ had switched places in ‘Crystal’ on a number of the away supporters’ tickets here is just as inconsequential.

Palace have far bigger concerns. They are sleep walking into a relegation fight, the club currently three points clear of 18th placed West Ham – who have two games in hand over their London rivals.

Patrick Vieira paid the ultimate price for the team’s dreadful form on Friday when he was sacked.


ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale 6; White 7 (Jorginho 83), Holding 7, Gabriel 7 (Kiwior 86), Zinchenko 7.5 (Tierney 65, 6.5); Partey 8, Xhaka 7; Saka 8.5, Odegaard 7.5, Martinelli 8 (Smith Rowe 83); Trossard 7.5 (Jesus 65, 6). 

Subs: Turner, Tierney, Vieira, Nelson.

Manager: Mikel Arteta 7.5

PALACE (4-2-3-1): Whitworth 6; Ward 6, Tomkins 6, Guehi 6.5, Mitchell 6; Doucoure 6.5, Milivojevic 5.5 (Hughes 66, 5.5); Olise 5 (Eze 82), Schlupp 6 (Ahamada 82), Zaha 6.5; Odsonne 5 (Ayew 65, 5). 

Subs: Goodman, Mateta, Clyne, Hughes, Richards, Riedewald. Booked: Tomkins.

Manager: Paddy McCarthy McCarthy 6

Referee: Stuart Attwell 6

As Sportsmail revealed last week, a return for Roy Hodgson, who vacated the role to make way for Vieira two years ago, is not being discounted.

But at the age of 75, why would a retired Hodgson need this sort of aggro? If he was watching this, you wouldn’t blame him for having reservations.

Palace were resolute for a while; Wilfred Zaha was unlucky not to fire the Eagles ahead in the 11th minute, the effort he tried squeezing in at the near post striking a post before ricocheting back off Aaron Ramsdale and out for a corner.

When things are going for you, the ball rebounds off the keeper and inside the post. Suffice to say the ball isn’t rolling for Palace at the moment.

That’s why Vieira was given his marching orders. Vieira’s a legend on this side of north London, indeed the home supporters took great pleasure blasting out their famous song about the Frenchman during various junctures here.

That will be scant consolation for Vieira, of course, who believed he could steady a ship that is struggling to stay afloat.

For the time being, the job of leading Palace has been bestowed upon under-21 coach Paddy McCarthy.

His audition for the job here begun with promising signs. Soon after Zaha’s opportunity, Odsonne Edouard broke clear only to be denied by Ramsdale – though the Palace striker was eventually ruled off side.

Jeffrey Schlupp pulled a goal back for Palace in the second half but the visitors were well beaten

Wilfried Zaha went close on a couple of occasions and hit the post in the first half but couldn’t find the net

Waiting in the wings to replace McCarthy is Hodgson.

Heading into the weekend he was the preferred candidate to replace Vieira until the end of the season among influential member’s of the club’s hierarchy.

They are keeping their options open heading into the international break – indeed heading into this clash, Palace wanted to give McCarthy a fair crack of the whip to make the job his own.

And for 25 minutes of so, the former Republic of Ireland defender was doing his chances no harm at all – although rookie goalkeeper Joe Whitworth was forced into parrying Martin Odegaard’s effort from the edge of the box.

Cheick Doucoure was having a good game in midfield, while Zaha was dangerous.

But when Arsenal shifted through the gears, Palace were blown away – and McCarthy’s hopes of a longer period in the hotseat were dealt four crushing blows.

First, Gabriel Martinelli lashed home a fierce angled drive from Bukayo Saka’s cut-back to fire the team ahead in the 28th minute.

Paddy McCarthy is in the dugout on an interim basis but couldn’t inspire his team to victory

Then, just before half-time, Saka cooly slotted past Whitworth from Ben White’s pass to double Arsenal’s lead.

Game over. Palace hadn’t scored in four games and not notched twice in a single match since December. They weren’t about to buck that trend now.

For Arsenal, this was turning into another routine afternoon.

Saka was at his effervescent best, Odegaard pure poetry in central midfield and but for those early scares their defence – that had Rob Holding making his first league start of the season in the absence of the injured William Saliba – were largely watertight.

Zaha again looked the most likely for Palace, his effort in the 53rd minute forcing Ramsdale into an instinctive save.

But by the end Palace had been blown away. Grant Xhaka added a third in the 55th minute, converting Leandro Trossard’s through ball to end any lingering anxieties for Arsenal.

Credit to Palace, they gave it a go, Jeffrey Schlupp’s bundled effort reduced the deficit in the 63rd minute.

Had Zaha converted an excellent chance nine minutes later, then perhaps McCarthy’s hopes of staying in the job may have improved.

As it so happens, Saka killed any hope of a Palace fight back, rifling home substitute Kieran Tierney’s pass in the 74th minute to complete the scoring.

Saka’s season goes from strength to strength. A brilliant young footballer, with the personality to boot.

Arsenal are now eight points clear at the top of the table after a dominant victory

Mikel Arteta was delighted after seeing his side bounce back from their midweek Europa League elimination

Palace have their own bright youngsters: Michael Olise has all the makings of a top-four player. Similarly, Eberechi Eze, who came on as a late substitute, would be an England intentional by now if it wasn’t for injury.

At this rate, however, they’ll be fortunate not to be playing Championship football next season.

Is Hodgson the answer? Maybe. Maybe not.

What is for certain is that Arsenal emphatically answered another question here on Sunday.

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