Arsenal fire blanks at Emirates
LONDON, England (AP):
Arsenal’s three-match winning streak in the English Premier League (EPL) ended with a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace yesterday as the Gunners missed a chance to keep their momentum going and climb up the table.
Arsenal remained rooted in 11th place with 24 points, while Palace stayed in 13th with 23 points.
“We’ll take it,” Palace winger Eberechi Eze said. “It’s a good point to take.”
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was under pressure before Christmas after the team’s worst start to a season since 1974. But wins over the festive period against Chelsea, Brighton, and West Bromwich Albion moved his team back into midtable and in sight of the European positions.
But yesterday’s game saw his team revert to its old form, lacking creativity in midfield and cutting edge up front.
Arsenal controlled the match against Palace in the opening stages of the first half, with the home side’s clearest chance coming in the 20th minute.
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cut inside from the left and unleashed a curling shot that appeared to fool goalkeeper Vicente Guaita. He wildly palmed the ball just in front of him and then mispunched before collecting it.
But Palace slowly grew into the match, putting Arsenal under pressure in midfield and on the counterattack. The visitors came close from a free kick in the 39th when James Tomkins leaped above centre back Rob Holding and headed the ball against the crossbar.
Three minutes later, Christian Benteke beat defender David Luiz in an aerial duel to a cross from Tyrick Mitchell, and the forward’s close-range header nearly beat Bernd Leno. But the goalkeeper’s leaping fingertip save was enough to push the ball out of danger for a corner.
Arsenal piled on the pressure at the start of the second half, creating a number of chances, with Hector Bellerin firing just wide after Palace failed to clear, and the ball fell to him in the 46th.
Aubameyang’s scoring drought continues in the EPL. After his chance in the first half, Crystal Palace defenders did everything to keep the forward from taking the ball on his favoured left foot.
Palace assistant manager Ray Lewington kept shouting “right, right” at the top of his lungs to urge his players to keep the ball on Aubameyang’s weaker right foot.
Arsenal missed the pace and creativity of left back Kieran Tierney, who was rested as a precaution with muscle tightness.
“They did defend very well with loads of players,” Bellerin said. “I felt that the little spark of creativity was missing today. Today, we didn’t have that little bit of luck that we needed.”