Arsenal supporters turned furiously on their own team as club legend Ian Wright accused Arsene Wenger of having “lost” the dressing-room following a fourth straight Premier League away defeat.
Chants of “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” were aimed from Arsenal fans at the players, who were also abused as they boarded the team bus at Selhurst Park after another feeble performance.
Full-back Hector Bellerin even appeared to be consoled by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain amid the angry reaction he received as he went to applaud the Arsenal fans at the end of the game.
Scenes. Ball goes out 10 ft from us, fans refuse to send it back to Hector, then shouting "you're not fit to wear the shirt" right at them. pic.twitter.com/F7Qsn4owLS
— GoonersInUSA Podcast (@GoonersinUSA) April 10, 2017
Arsenal have conceded at least three goals in each of those last four away games, with their captain Theo Walcott even making the extraordinary admission on Monday night that he sensed from the start of the game that the Palace players were hungrier than his team-mates.
Walcott said that the team had “let down” Arsenal’s fans.
“We can only apologise,” he said. “"They wanted it more. You could sense that from the kick-off. That wasn't Arsenal at all."
Wright suggested on Twitter that the Arsenal players had not tried and added: “That dressing-room is lost”.
Wow some of the comments I get from Arsenal fans on here.At least I f*****g tried.That dressing room is lost. Brilliant stuff palace
— Ian Wright (@IanWright0) April 10, 2017
Wenger is in the final year of his contract and wants to extend his 21-year reign as manager but, with Crystal Palace supporters singing, “We want you to stay”, there were again banners calling for the Frenchman to leave.
As well as the 12 goals that have been conceded away from the Emirates in their last four league games, Arsenal’s defensive frailties have been brutally exposed in 2017 with the 10-2 aggregate Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich.
Wenger denied that the uncertainty over his future had impacted on performances and also rejected the suggestion that his players had “downed tools”. He has promised that a decision on his contract will be communicated shortly but would not discuss that situation in the immediate aftermath of this 3-0 defeat.
“I'm not in the mood to speak about it,” said Wenger. “At the moment I pay more respect to the fact we had a disappointing result. It would be inconvenient for me to speak about me. It was more painful for us to lose this game in the way we lost it. What counts is how we perform on the pitch. I feel everyone is focused in the club to do it. It's really strange. We were unbeaten for a long time away from home, and now we cannot win. It had an impact on us after the second goal.
“We faced a team who played very deep, went for a very direct game, and we lost many direct duels, many second balls, because they were sharper and more decisive. We came back into the game. In the second half they came out strong and scored the second goal, and it was more difficult for us even when we created dangerous situations. We were always vulnerable on the counter-attacks because we threw everything forward.”
Arsenal are now seven points off the top four and Wenger acknowledged that his team’s confidence had been affected by a sequence of five defeats in eight games. He also said that he understood why the fans had reacted so angrily.
“I think they are extremely disappointed and I can understand that, like we all are,” he said. "We played with a desire to win the game with an offensive team. We knew what would face us. Their goalkeeper took the free-kicks from half-way, so it was up to us to combat that and win the game. It's part of our job to rebuild the confidence. We have a week to do it.”
Palace are now six points clear of the relegation zone and manager Sam Allardyce said that it had been his "best week” since taking over from Alan Pardew. There did also appear to be some surprise at how "gung ho" Arsenal had played.
"The whole emphasis was on the players' ability to shut Arsenal down, crowd them out of their fluent play and then expose and exploit the spaces they leave because of their attacking style," said Allardyce.
"There can be a lack of confidence in any side at any time of the season, even the top boys. When you punish them by scoring the first goal, that preys on their mind a bit: 'Oh no, here we go again'."