Arsenal blew the chance to jump back above north London rivals Tottenham into fourth spot in the Premier League table after suffering a 3-0 mauling at Crystal Palace on Monday evening.
Palace were on fire from the start and took the lead through Jean-Philippe Mateta’s close-range header. It was 2-0 when Gabriel Magalhaes and Nuno Tavares blundered to allow Jordan Ayew through to beat Aaron Ramsdale. And the points were wrapped up when Wilfried Zaha was sent tumbling in the area and the forward duly dispatched the spot-kick.
The defeat leaves the Gunners level on points with Spurs, although they do still have a game in hand. As for Patrick Vieira’s men, they are up to ninth after a barnstorming display.
Zaha was fit enough to return for the Eagles after missing Ivory Coast’s defeat to England with a hamstring injury. However, Patrick Vieira was without Michael Olise, who was replaced by Ayew.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was able to welcome Aaron Ramsdale back into the fold after a hip injury. The only other change made by the Gunners was Tavares coming in for the absent Kieran Tierney.
Mateta deservedly broke the deadlock for Palace after 16 minutes in a lightning-fast start from the home side.
Conor Gallagher’s free-kick was headed back across goal by Joachim Andersen and Mateta was on hand to nod in from close range for his sixth goal of the season.
Ayew gives Palace breathing space
The Eagles made it 2-0 eight minutes later with Ayew grabbing only his second goal of the season.
WHAT A PASS! 😍
Joachim Andersen threads a beautiful through-ball to Jordan Ayew who piles more misery on Arsenal 👀 pic.twitter.com/0oIKPIurzk
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 4, 2022
Joachim Andersen spotted the run of the Ghana international and, after Gabriel was unable to intercept the pass, Ayew controlled and bent around Aaron Ramsdale into the bottom corner to double the hosts’ lead.
Arteta turned to Gabriel Martinelli off the bench at half-time, with Tavares hooked and Granit Xhaka moving to left-back.
The visitors did improve, with Smith-Rowe firing a low effort at Vicente Guaita before Martin Odegaard fluffed his lines from 10 yards when it looked easier to score.
But Palace wrapped up the points from the penalty spot in the 74th minute after Odegaard felled Zaha. The Eagles forward dusted himself down and smashed the penalty past Ramsdale.
Eddie Nketiah was unlucky not to pull a goal back for the Gunners when his 25-yard effort hit the bar.
But that was as good as it got for a poor Arsenal side, who went down to their former skipper – with Selhurst Park bouncing after a superb win.