Arteta apologises for ‘unacceptable' Arsenal defeat

Crystal Palace beat the Gunners 3-0 in a one-sided game that left Spurs fans smiling

Tuesday, 5th April — By Zakaria Taibi at Selhurst Park

Mikel Arteta IMG_7781 (1)

Premier League

CRYSTAL PALACE 3 (Mateta 16, Ayew 24, Zaha 74 pen)

IT was a miserable Monday night for Arsenal after they missed out on reclaiming fourth spot in the Premier League after slumping to a 3-0 defeat away to Crystal Palace.

Mikel Arteta’s men looked all over the place from the first minute at Selhurst Park as they struggled to keep up with the Eagles’ pace, power and fighting spirit.

Despite having 69 per cent of the possession, the Gunners managed only three shots on target, and were second best for the majority of the evening.

After the defeat, a disheartened Arteta said: “We were late to every ball, we were soft in the duels and we didn’t earn the right to play. We didn’t have any dominance and we conceded two poor goals as well.

“Overall it was unacceptable, we put our hands up and apologise, and regroup. Tomorrow’s a new day and a new opportunity starting with Brighton this weekend.”

Arteta dismissed the idea that the pressure to achieve a top-four finish is getting to his team, adding: “It’s not pressure because that’s been there for the past seven or eight games.

“These boys have been performing extremely well, getting results and playing really well. Tonight we didn’t perform, it’s as simple as that. We were second best in every department.”

From the off Crystal Palace looked the team most likely to get the first breakthrough – and so it proved. Conor Gallagher crossed in a brilliant free-kick, and the ball bounced off Joachim Andersen before landing perfectly for Jean-Philippe Mateta to head home.

Centre-back Andersen was also instrumental in the second goal after playing a superb defence-splitting pass from 40-yards which put Jordan Ayew one-on-one on goal. The forward showed great composure as he coolly fired past Aaron Ramsdale.

Wilfried Zaha put the game to bed from the penalty spot after being tripped by Martin Odegaard, capping a hopeless Arsenal performance.

Eddie Nketiah came on for the Gunners in the last 10 minutes and at least offered a little more directness up front. The young striker created Arsenal’s best chance of the game, hitting the crossbar with a shot from just outside of the box.

Things went from bad to worse for the north Londoners as February’s player of the month, Thomas Partey, limped off injured in the 75th minute. Arteta said: “I don’t know but he felt something in the same area that he got injured previously, so that’s a big concern.”

Arsenal now sit fifth in the table with a game in hand over fourth-placed Tottenham. The north London derby, set to be played in the final week of the season, is looking more and more likely to be the fixture that decides who gets to play Champions League football next year.

But first for Arsenal is to get back to winning ways, and there’s no better game to do that than Brighton at home this Saturday.

Crystal Palace: Guaita, Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell, Gallagher, Kouyate (Milivojevic, 80), Schlupp, Ayew (Edouard, 76), Mateta (McArthur, 69), Zaha
Substitutes not used: Butland, Ward, Tomkins, Eze, Benteke, Hughes

Arsenal: Ramsdale, Soares (Nketiah, 66), White, Gabriel, Tavares (Martinelli, 45), Partey (Lokonga, 74), Xhaka, Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Lacazette
Substitutes not used: Leno, Elneny, Holding, Swanson, Ogungbo, Flores

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