10-man Arsenal see off 12-man Palace!


Crystal Palace are always a bogey side, even if they’d been shorn of two of their most-important attackers. Hodgon sets them up to stay compact and hard to break down, and this made for a difficult, tense match. Each side spurned some early chances, and it wasn’t until a bit of guile from Martinelli, some gamesmanship from Nketiah, and some grace under pressure from Ødegaard that we could pierce Palace’s rearguard. It wasn’t always pretty, and David Coote did his level best to assist Palace’s efforts. In the end, not even the sending off of Tomiyasu for two bookings inside of six minutes could stop us from snatching all three points.

Let’s set the scene: the ball goes out in Palace’s half, and Havertz picks up the ball for the throw. He holds it for about 11-12 seconds before yielding to Tomiyasu, who holds it for about 7-8 seconds. Coote, not having said anything to Havertz, issues Tomiyasu the yellow card for time-wasting. That’s…fair, but it’s probably Havertz who should have been booked. For what it’s worth, there were, by my count, three Palace throw-ins whose delays lasted longer than the combined Havertz-Tomiyasu delay. No yellow cards issued. Fine. New rule. We’re finding our way.

However, just five minutes later, Tomiyasu finds himself trying to deny a pass to Jordan Ayew but misjudged the ball. As it floats past the two of them, Tomiyasu may or may not have impeded Ayew. Ayew, insufferable [content deleted] that he is, goes to ground and protests despite having gotten away with perhaps a half-dozen worse infringements. Immediately, Coote shows Tomiyasu a second yellow, and off he goes. We’re down to ten men, and Palace have what feels quite a lot like a two-man advantage.

Looking at it objectively and in isolation, Tomiyasu scarcely committed a foul worthy of the name. One might award the foul, but to issue a yellow card is overkill. To be issuing a second yellow card inside of five minutes, when the first one was arguably misapplied in the first place, is…what’s worse than overkill? To add insult to injury, Coote then waved off or ignored numerous Palace challenges, such as when Nketiah was in a footrace with Jefferson Lerma to win the ball, crossed midfield, and was then dragged down by Lerma with much-more physical contact and a much-clearer path towards goal. Coote was obliged to acknowledge the foul, but the counter had been denied. No yellow card. It was similar to an earlier sequence when Ayew dragged Saka to the ground, complete with jersey pull, arm wrapped around Saka’s torso, and numerous hacks at the ankles.

If there’s any justice or karma here, it’s in the fact that Ayew was whistled for the foul, which led to the sequence in which Martinelli took the free kick quickly to play Nketiah in on goal, and he was then brought down to earn the penalty that Ødegaard converted. The Coote giveth, and the Coote taketh away. Alternately, his right hand doens’t know what his left hand is doing. Alternately, he doesn’t know his arse from a hole in the ground.

Whatever else transpired, we showed enough mettle to see the match out. Along the way, Declan Rice again took steps towards proving that he’ll be worth what we paid to get him. He put in another strong, all-around performance, helping us to control the midfield with Partey playing fullback and Havertz still looking a bit like a deer in the headlights. Nketiah came close to impressing, very nearly finding the back of the net from a very tight angle only to hit the post, chipping over the crossbar from close range, and earning us a penalty when brought down by the keeper Johnstone.

Arteta showed some degree of tactical flexibility after Tomiyasu’s sending off, replacing Martinelli with Magalhães, Ødegaard with Zinchenko, Saka with Kiwior, and Nketiah with Jorginho in order to see the match out. It’s hardly rocket science to replace a few attackers with a few defenders, but the presence of those defenders allowed us to repel wave after wave of Palace attacks that consisted largely of crosses into the box. In previous seasons, Arteta might have stuck with his more-aggressive lineup in order to chase a second goal. Baby steps.

Whatever the details, it’s a valuable three points claimed on the road in hostile conditions, good enough to keep us level on points with Man City and Brighton atop the table. It was hardly a swash-buckling win, but it was worth it to see the lads grind out a tetchy one. All too often down the years, a soft second yellow like Tomi’s might have seen us go to pieces. There was none of that here. In its place was a growing sense of confidence and determination. Of course, it’s one thing to circle the wagons against mid-table, Zaha-less Palace. The proof we’ll hope to find in the pudding will be whether we can come away from the Etihad, Anfield, or Old Trafford with a point or more. This result, while less glamorous than we might have hoped, still offers reasons for optimism.

We’ll have to do better if we’re to come away with the results we need against opponents that hope to finish higher than Palace, of course, but let’s not look a gift Coote in the mouth.

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10 thoughts on “10-man Arsenal see off 12-man Palace!

  1. Jax

    Coote’s right hand doesn’t appear to know what it’s right hands’s doing. It was a very poor all round performance by him and I fully expect an apology from Howard Webb, as as seems to be the norm by PGMOL in these matters since he took control.
    I think Tomi’s 1st yellow may have been for a cumulative of his unhurried throws all game, and that final one seemed a rather long 8 seconds to me, which was also pointed out to Arteta post match. And regarding Havertz’s involvement, perhaps they should amend the rule to make it that the first player to handle the ball after it goes dead takes the throw, to cut all this juggling between them. It’s so annoying!
    Do you think the message will have penetrated through to Arsenal’s coaches now that cards in successive games have been issued for this offence?
    Good to get the points though, despite all.

      1. Jon Shay Post author

        The cards have been flying. I think there were five red cards this weekend! Everyone has to adjust – players, coaches, but especially the refs. A player like Ayew should see yellow for numerous individual fouls as well as an accumulation of them, for example. I don’t see an apology forthcoming, sad to say.

  2. consolsbob

    Enjoyed the game if not the referee’s performance. Same old, same old…

    However, why on Earth we were wasting time in the 61st minute when we had just scored and we’re on top is beyond me. This seems to be a recurring thing with Arsenal, other clubs too but it seems to happen every match with us. I do not understand it.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      I’m all for cracking down on time-wasting, but as I mentioned in the post, there were numerous Palace throw-ins that lasted longer than the one that led to Tomi’s second yellow. That’s poor application of the rules. I’m just glad the lads showed the kind of character needed to rise above it.

  3. jw1

    One of those where despite all the tomfoolery by a less-than competent official– at the end, you’ve held, you’ve earned three points against the odds. A wry smile, and a cup of satisfaction to chase it down. Job done.

    It’s nice to win in aesthetically pleasing fashion. We’d have all preferred it. But it builds character to dig deep, overcome adversity, and grind out the result. Going to need some of these to be there at the end of things. Good to get this one under our collective belts.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      You’re channeling Arteta’s post-match presser. I won’t go so far as to say I’d prefer a cakewalk, but it is important to learn how to play through these kinds of matches. It’s not something the Arsenal has been known for in quite some time.

  4. A Simple Truth

    unfortunately, albeit predictably, you appear to have taken me up on my proposed dare…it begs the question, what exactly has to transpire in order for you to call a spade a spade…for crying out loud you failed to even mention the foul in the box by Partey that should have led to a Palace penalty

    let’s face it, this was another underwhleming performance, both prior to and following the sending off…the nonsesnical shoehorning, the lack of directness, the all-too-famiiliar poor first touches and finishing by Eddie, the continued “passenger” status of Havertz, the lack of chances on target and the emabrassment that logically comes when one fields a team totally compromised of defensive players, minus one forward, in order to see off such a lightweight and undermanned Palace side etc…so even though I agree with the “softness” of Tomi’s dismissal and the fact that we ultimately left the park with all 3 points in hand, it should in no way excuse and/or justify what transpired between the lines yesterday

    in fact, from what I witnessed yesterday, it appears as if we’re heading back down that sideways borefest road from a few years back…we have no real added width or overlapping help so Marts and Saka have to come deeper, which allows the opposition to better prepare for their respective approaches…we rely too heavily on our defenders and DMs for ball distribution, especially with Partey inverted on the right side, as that requires Ode to take up more advanced positions, and, minus when Rice provided Eddie with a silver platter pass, we failed to show any discernable directness…if this is our bus parking blueprint breaker, we could be in tough this year against the toilet bowl dwellers…now we have one more layup this weekend, so hopefully things look decidely better, but I’m certainly not holding my breath

    as for our revamped plan A against the tougher sides, which according to MA includes bringing Gabs back into the starting fold, I’ll have to wait to see what’s on offer before making any assessment…in the meantime, I can only hope we sell off some of the periphery pieces, who MA clearly doesn’t rate, then go back into the transfer market and get a clinical finisher and/or someone who can shoot from distance…the silver lining here is that there’s ample runway and everything that’s presently not working is correctable

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      oof, that was a lot of pessimism even from you, AST. We had to know going in that Palace are tough to break down, and they were. Better finishing from Nketiah could have been all the difference. An inch or two on his chance off the post and we’d have been in business. Palace would have had to come forward to find and equaliser, and we’d be finding more space to exploit. Nketiah’s attempted dink from Rice’s pass was woeful, it must be said. Rice made a great run into space and put it on a platter for Nketiah; a crisp shot straight at the keeper might have yielded a goal or at least a second chance to Martinelli or to Rice. Alas and alack.

      I did have my heart in my throat for the alleged foul from Partey. VAR decided it wasn’t a pen – Partey’s right leg was lifted and moving away; the Palace player tried to intitiate contact, Grealish-style, but it wasn’t convincing.

      As for Partey at RB, we know by now that Arteta wants an inverted fullback. Timber’s out, and Zinchenko is still finding fitness. I don’t like Partey at RB, but he does slot in to the middle when we’re in possession, and this allows both Havertz and Rice to get into more advanced positions.

      These are important results. You can’t win them all 4-0. Manufacturing a result like this, grinding it out against the odds away from home, does matter. I won’t try to dissect the rest of your comment item by item. We emerged from a banana peel of a fixture with all three points and showed some bottle along the way. I’ll take that even if I preferred and predicted a comfy 0-3 scoreline.

      1. A Simple Truth

        Jon-I was neither expecting too much, in light of the monies spent, nor attempting to pile on, regardless of how it might have appeared at first blush, I was simply providing my unadulterated assessment of the situation…in response to your retort I will simply offer up a few salient points:

        (1) your attempts to excuse Eddie for his near misses will always fall on deaf ears, as that’s the story of his Arsenal career thus far…I would go so far as to suggest that if you placed a cardboard cutout in the dead center of the net he would somehow, someway still fail to score on more than half his grade A chances…to continually suggest otherwise is, as Einstein would suggest, insanity personified

        (2) Partey clearly fouled the player in the box…in fact, it was a rather cynical foul, considering the circumstances…of course I’m not upset, as it went our way, but it doesn’t change the fact that it happened…I would suspect that it was a bit of a tit-for-tat scenario given the whole Tomi situation, which couldn’t be reviewed as it was a second yellow and not a red

        (3) next up, the Partey inverted RB dilemma…this was a failed experiment at the end of last season and continues to be one now…instead of going with a strength, like having White assist Saka in more advanced spaces, MA continues to diminish the potential returns of his best players to placate his flavour of the week besties, Havertz and Rce…neither of whom have shown the propensity to impact results in the final third for some time, or ever, in Rice’s case…it’s just more round pegs in square holes for our still learning manager

        btw, I certainly don’t need blowouts, unless they’re well-earned, to get on board with this rather lengthy experiment, I just need to see our manager making decisions that result in tangible improvements on the field of play…with this in mind, please remind me of the last time you saw a manager bring in every conceivable rostered “defensive” player in order to secure a victory, down a man or otherwise…what the hell would he have done in the pre-covid era when considerably fewer substitutions were allowed…I’ll tell you what he would have done, he would have run straight to the microphone, at game’s end, and spoke at length about the need for a major rethink about that particular rule due to some sort of player safety nonsense



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