Crystal Palace 3 Arsenal 0: gutless Gooners soundly beaten as Zaha, Cabaye and Townsend run riot

Jason Burt
Trudging: Alexis Sanchez took it all deeply personally, while Arsene Wenger tried to slip away quietly - AP

Eagles 3 Dodos 0. Arsenal’s hopes of finishing in the top four are in grave danger; almost extinct. Crystal Palace are fighting for their lives and are close to survival. This was a devastating defeat for Arsene Wenger, whose feeble side have now lost five of their last eight Premier League games. They are spiralling out of control, leaderless, seven points off the Champions League places. It is heading one way.

For Palace, a fifth win in six matches, adding Arsenal’s scalp to Chelsea’s. They thoroughly deserved this victory even if the gloss will be overshadowed, somewhat, by another Arsenal inquest.

Except what more can be said? There was one twist, however, with Arsenal’s vocal away support turning. “You’re not fit to wear the shirt,” they chanted and they appeared completely despondent, stunned, while Palace fans goaded Wenger with a chorus of “we want you to stay”.

It has come to this for Wenger. It was Bad All Over against Glad All Over.

He has never lost to Palace in the Premier League. But he has now and emphatically so; much to Sam Allardyce’s delight. But then neither has Wenger finished outside the top four and it is hard to see that record continuing either.

Perhaps they should have just parked it Credit: Getty

Arsenal had turned up late, delayed on their journey but were soon behind.

Palace were on the front foot; preying on Arsenal’s painfully obvious nerves and they profited when Christian Benteke competed with Gabriel for a long ball forward. It dropped to Andros Townsend, who combined with Yohan Cabaye. The ball was sent out right to Wilfried Zaha, who had cleverly pulled away and, as he slipped, his low cross was met by Townsend. The winger simply side-footed past goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez from close-range. It was Townsend’s first goal at Selhurst Park in almost seven months.

All Yellow: Arsenal's bus was late and they made a sluggish start v Palace Credit: Getty

It had also been coming. Before that, Arsenal had gone closest, with Wayne Hennessey tipping away a curling, 20-yard shot from Mohamed Elneny but Arsenal seemed incredibly vulnerable to every Palace attack. Cabaye had shot over, when well-placed, from Mamadou Sakho’s cut-back after the defender had been allowed to chest down a free-kick. Luka Milovojevic had fired narrowly wide after Benteke had again spread panic in the Arsenal defence.

Attacking dominance: Crystal Palace's Andros Townsend celebrates scoring their first goal with Wilfried Zaha Credit: Reuters

It was summed up when Martinez and Hector Bellerin made a hash of playing the ball out with the right-back looking away and the goalkeeper miscuing a pass for him straight into touch. Arsenal just could not clear their lines with any certainty and when Shkodran Mustafi was booked, for bringing down Townsend, he was fortunate to have not already been cautioned for an even more reckless challenge on Benteke. Mustafi was struggling. Badly.

The goal had to sting them and it did with Alexis Sanchez testing Hennessey and then leaving the goalkeeper on his heels as he again cut back inside only to send a bouncing shot just beyond the far post.

Arsenal held sway on possession, passed the ball, but were being bullied at the back whenever Benteke or Sakho were involved. Every set-piece or cross provided a danger while Sakho continued his astonishing defensive form as he cut out Mesut Ozil’s cross and then blocked Sanchez’s follow-up as Arsenal threatened to draw level.

The Rock: Mamadou Sakho was a titan in defence for Palace Credit: Reuters

But it was Palace who should have gone further ahead when Benteke was allowed to collect Zaha’s pass inside the area only to push the ball wide. Even so he drove a near post shot that Martinez deflected for a corner. On half-time there was one final opportunity, for Arsenal, with Gabriel rising to meet a corner only for Hennessey to collect. Before that Danny Welbeck had sent a cross-shot beyond the far post.

Arsenal were sleepwalking. They needed to rouse themselves after the break but it was Palace again threatening when Zaha skilfully worked his way down the right and crossed for Townsend to ease the ball on to Benteke only for his goal-bound shot on the turn to ricochet off Bellerin. They sensed they could kill the game off and Benteke then turned the ball home after Martinez parried Townsend’s shot only to correctly be pulled up for offside before Jason Puncheon guided a header that was held by the goalkeeper.

At the other end, Bellerin should have done better when Sanchez picked him out. He volleyed weakly. Wenger had seen enough. He made a double change with both Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey introduced. But it was Palace who struck with Townsend finding Zaha. The wide-man slipped as he delivered his cross, but found Cabaye nevertheless. Cabaye lofted a first-time shot over Martinez and into the net. Again Arsenal were a defensive shambles.

Finish: Crystal Palace's Yohan Cabaye (not in shot) scores their second goal as Arsenal's Emiliano Martinez attempts to save Credit: Reuters

For a side with their ambition and resources this was desperately poor as Palace dominated them. And simply wanted it more.

It got worse. Townsend latched onto a header and Martinez slid in to challenge, with Bellerin also there, and the England international was brought down. Penalty. Luka Milivojevic stepped up and drove the ball fiercely past Martinez. It also meant Arsenal had conceded three goals in each of their last four away league games which is, frankly, a gutless return.

MORE:read How Arsenal were destroyed by Crystal Palace and why Danny Welbeck shouldn't play up front

9:53PM

Time on ball (at full time)

Possession: Crystal Palace vs Arsenal 9:52PM

Final whistle: Crystal Palace 3 Arsenal 0

Glorious for Palace, they were superb. Arsenal an absolute shambles. Let the games begin......

Powerful: this man has done a print out Credit: Sky Sports

Arsene Wenger post match quotes: "Penalty killed our game.  I think they were sharper than us in the duels, in many decisive situations. It is not the right moment [to answer why Palace won the second ball]. They were stronger, especially Benteke.

"What we said in the dressing room stays in the dressing room. It is damaging result, of course, a difficult defeat and consequences on our chances to make the top four.

"You understand that our fans are very unhappy. We came here with the hope that we would win the game.

"Every defeat is a big worry. I have managed over 1,200 games for Arsenal and you do not expect defeats like that.

"I cannot go on forever* after a game like that. I am disappointed and determined to put things right."

* [this was a bit unclear, it could be that he meant he doesn't want to talk on and on about the result. Geoff Shreeeves did not press him further. Hard to say if he meant that he 'cannot go on managing' or 'cannot go on dissecting the performance'- AT]

9:51PM

Four minutes added

Michael Oliver displaying a dark sense of humour that we did not know he had.

9:50PM

90 mins

The whistle cannot come soon enough for Arsenal. If only Palace could play London superclubs every week, eh?

9:49PM

88 mins

Zaha's come off, but Palace are still all over Arsenal like a rash. Delaney the man who comes on. This is a complete pasting. Now the Palace fans are giving it 'ole'. I mean, how humiliating is that?

9:49PM

88 mins

Zaha's come off, but Palace are still all over Arsenal like a rash. Delaney the man who comes on. This is a complete pasting. Now the Palace fans are giving it 'ole'. I mean, how humiliating is that?

9:46PM

There it is! Sign of the times

 

9:44PM

86 mins

Xhaka attempts a dribble in his own area. That's... brave. Loses it. Drops to a Palace forward, Arsenal just about hack clear. What a shower.

9:44PM

85 mins

Nearly a fourth! Benteke with a nice volley, Monreal has to clear the ball just in front of the goal-line with the keeper beaten.

Milivojevic off Flamini on.

9:43PM

My god that man bun

You just cannot suck this bad at football AND have a haircut like that. What a div.

Credit: Sky Sports

9:42PM

Cold

9:41PM

Don't encourage them, honestly

9:40PM

Chap in the crowd with an A4 printed sign!

Sadly I was too slow to screengrab it. 'Wenger out' or some such cry for help.

9:38PM

78 mins

Economy contracting.

he should totally do it for the banters.

Sting has gone out of the game, Arsenal tearfully looking at their ice cream splodged and melting on the pavement. Big Sam thinking about how he will celebrate, and thinking he will most likely start with venison.

9:36PM

77 mins

So cwoss.

9:35PM

74 mins

Cabaye, who has been superb, comes off and James McArthur comes on.

9:35PM

Time on ball (60 - 75 min)

Possession: Crystal Palace vs Arsenal 9:34PM

72 mins

Bellerin dinks a ball in with the delicate touch one would expect from a man who carries not one but two man purses. Giroud is within a whisker of tucking it in at the far post but is just a touch too slow.

9:33PM

69 mins

Ickle Theo Waltrousers, who has been an absolute waste of a bus fare, comes off and THE OX comes on. Go on The Ox.

9:26PM

PENALTY!

Townsend into the area, takes it round the keeper. Looks to me like he's a distant second favourite to reach the ball, but the keeper sells himself, and Townsend is able to leave enough of his leg in there to get the penalty. Probably a dive, but it looked a really good penalty claim in real time.

Credit: Sky Sports

Luka Milivojevic steps up..... 3-0!!

Crystal Palace 3 - 0 Arsenal (Luka Milivojevic, 68 min) 9:26PM

One-way traffic at Selhurst Park

It's been all Crystal Palace, with the hosts racking up 15 shots so far - Arsenal have managed just eight in reply.

Crystal Palace vs Arsenal shots on goal 9:25PM

63 mins

Arsenal want a penalty when Giroud goes down under a challenge from Sakho, but the ref's not buying.

9:21PM

GOAL PALACE! Get that right up you

More woeful defending, Mustafi sliding around like a dog on lino, as Madame Lawro so memorably put it. Benteke to Cabaye, quick and crisp one two with Zaha out on the right, and the Arsenal defenders look like they have been drinking heavily, stumbling and staggering about two yards behind the game. Cabaye cracks it at goal and that's a belter.

Crystal Palace 2 - 0 Arsenal (Yohan Cabaye, 63 min) 9:21PM

Time on ball (45 - 60 min)

Possession: Crystal Palace vs Arsenal 9:20PM

60 mins

There is something wildly irritating about Arsenal, I can see why their fans hate it so much. It's hard to put your finger on but it's that mix of entitlement, of bloodlessness, the moral superiority. Or is that the fans? It's difficult to isolate. But something about the way they play does make you want to throttle the lot of them.

Anyway, here comes Giroud and Ramsey to try and sort it all out.

9:18PM

59 mins

Your Arsepravda version:

9:16PM

58 mins

Sanchez, a Gulliver tied down to the little people, chips exquisitely over the defence, that shot would have been well in at the Masters. Bellerin oafishly shins the resultant chance miles wide.

9:15PM

55 mins

9:13PM

54 mins

I make it four decent efforts for Palace since the half, plus that offsides . Puncheon close from  a corner with the header.

Attempt Saved: Crystal Palace 1 - 0 Arsenal (Christian Benteke, 49 min)

What can Arsenal do? They're getting an absolute doing here. 

9:12PM

51 mins

Attempt Saved: Crystal Palace 1 - 0 Arsenal (Christian Benteke, 49 min) 9:09PM

50 mins

Palace have the ball in the net. Townsend fires through a forest of legs, it's saved, Benteke taps it in but is clearly offside. Easy call for the lino that one.

9:09PM

49 mins

Palace are giving Arsenal a proper roasting here! Benteke is running amok in that area, Townsend is everywhere and Arsenal look completely overmatched. Shot goes just wide.

Attempt Saved: Crystal Palace 1 - 0 Arsenal (Christian Benteke, 49 min) 9:07PM

46 mins

Fantastic atmosphere still. Can Arsenal get back on terms?

9:03PM

Players back out

Arsene trudges to the dug out looking like a wet weekend in, I dunno, Finsbury Park.

8:58PM

I mean what

8:58PM

Pedal pusher

8:57PM

You cannot say that Palace do not deserve it

Sure, Arsenal have had more time on the ball, but so what?

Miss: Crystal Palace 1 - 0 Arsenal (Danny Welbeck, 44 min) 8:48PM

Time on ball (first half)

Possession: Crystal Palace vs Arsenal 8:48PM

Average touch positions (half time)

Average touch positions (half time) 8:48PM

45 mins

The Sanchez-Monreal combo, Arsenal's sole bright spot, wins a corner down the left. Good corner, superb run from Gabriel, who loses his marker and plants his header on target. Acrobatic but ultimately comfortable save from Wayne H in goal, and that's the last action of the first half.

8:46PM

44 mins

Better from Arsenal, decent move and Welbeck has the shot. But from a narrow angle, he had to volley, technically as tough as it gets and he cannot make a clean contact.

Miss: Crystal Palace 1 - 0 Arsenal (Danny Welbeck, 44 min) 8:44PM

41 mins

The Arsenal backs are giving Benteke the run of the place. Nobody's picking him up! Nobody's tackling him. Come on Arsenal, sort it out!

Here is the big lad down the left, powers away from some limp defending and shoots. Keeper saves.

Possession: Crystal Palace vs Arsenal 8:43PM

40 mins

Arsenal have had 71% of the ball, but it's Palace who look more like scoring the game's second.

Possession: Crystal Palace vs Arsenal 8:39PM

Trophy hunt

8:38PM

37 mins

And now here's a ball for Benteke to chase, he's putting it up to Mustafi, who does well to keep the powerful forward at bay.

8:37PM

36 mins

Townsend and Cabaye are really up for this, cutting Arsenal open again. Zaha feeds Andros, who shoots over.

Miss: Crystal Palace ( 35 min ) 8:37PM

Good news, Arsene

The peanut gallery have a new hate figure.

8:35PM

32 mins

Spell of the ball for Arsenal now, though. Ozil free down the left, burns past Cabaye. Heroics from Sakho, who half stops Sanchez and then throws himself in the way of a shot. Yes yes yes.

8:33PM

30 mins

Oh look! There's little Theo Walcott. Didn't see he was playing. He's been a total spectator, as has Danny Welbeck.

8:32PM

28 mins

Mesut O chips the ball elegantly over the defence, but Monreal's cross-shot is awful. 

8:32PM

Time on ball (15 - 30 min)

Possession: Crystal Palace vs Arsenal 8:31PM

26 mins

Shkodran Mustafi didn't get a yellow for that foul earlier but he makes sure of one here by fouling Andros T.

8:26PM

24 mins

Monreal with some good work down the left, looks inside, and there's Alexis. What a dream he must be to play with. He's everywhere. Cuts in, shoots, wide.

8:25PM

22 mins

Here are Palace again, freekick near the corner. Arsenal, who are a rabble right now, fail to clear. Arsenal cut wide open! Lovely pass from pass from Zaha to set up Cabaye. Oh thank goodness for the Gooners, there's an offside flag.

8:22PM

Arsenal can't make their domination of the ball count

The visitors have had the majority of the ball - but Crystal Palace have the lead.

Crystal Palace vs Arsenal 8:20PM

What were the Arsenal defence thinking?

They were in poor formation, and didn't seem to be doing much to rectify the situation.

They are right: it is a great atmosphere. An androsphere,  if you will.

8:19PM

GOAL! PALACE! 1-0 to the home side

Crystal Palace take the lead, and it's Andros Townsend with the goal: 1-0.

Benteke put himself about a bit, won a high ball. Townsend slipped it to Cabaye, who played it out to Zaha on the right. Zaha slipped as he crossed the ball but it didn't matter. Andros Townsend had carried on his run and he slotted it home. Well done Palace, they have been playing with more verve, more heart, and more sharpness.

Crystal Palace 1 - 0 Arsenal (Andros Townsend, 17 min) 8:18PM

Palace have done it

And richly deserved!!

8:17PM

Time on ball (0 - 15 min)

Possession: Crystal Palace vs Arsenal 8:16PM

13 mins

Palace more than holding their own so far.

Crystal Palace vs Arsenal 8:15PM

12 mins

Palace have the obvious game plan: sit deep, dig in, use the pace of Zaha et al to break. Here is said Zaha doing just that, but Arsenal have woken up and the attack is snuffed out with some ease this time.

8:13PM

10 mins

The boy Martinez pumps a long one forward, Dat Guy Welbz holds it up expertly and brings in Mohamed Elneny. Elneny curls a peach of a shot, and that is a good save from Wayne Hennessey

8:11PM

Arsenal respond

The visitors have their first shot of the game, in reply to two so far from Crystal Palace.

Crystal Palace vs Arsenal shots on goal 8:09PM

6 mins

Arsenal really sloppy. I'm not saying they won't win, but they need to raise their game. Mustafi has upended Benteke, child referee Michael Oliver lets the game run, and Milivojevic shoots over. No booking for the Arsenal defender.

8:05PM

3 mins

Arsenal need to wake the frick up, they're all over the place. A cutback to the edge of the area finds Cabaye unmarked, and he should have done better than shoot a mile over. 

Crystal Palace vs Arsenal, Premier League live score updates

8:03PM

2 mins

Arsenal give it away again. Sanchez the culprit this time. Zaha tries a run.

8:03PM

1 mins

Anyway, the Gunners kick off and are being  given time to pass it around. But they've given it away! Palace can counter down the left. Cross comes in... and that's an encouraging claim from keeper Martinez. I think it was Andros who crossed it but the break happened at great pace, I always enjoy watching Palace's wide players, something of a strong suit for them I would say.

8:02PM

Ray's adverts are getting worse

"I am a member of the world's blah blah betting company."

Mate. It's not the Groucho Club or something. It's gambling money on the internet. I DON'T THINK THEY ARE BLACKBALLING ANYBODY RAY

8:01PM

Here is how Arsenal might play

Credit: Sky

Sorry, couldn't grab the line-up for the Nigels.

7:54PM

Here's what he's fiddling with

Credit: Sky Sports

7:52PM

Lovely Claudio is doing the tactics tic tac thing

Credit: Sky Sports

Those Leicester players, whether they deliberately tried to get him out, or whether they just didn't turn up for the first half of this season: hang your heads.

7:47PM

Big Sam laments the erratic results

"Best performance of the year against Chelsea. Below par against Southampton."

7:40PM

But sorry to say

A lot of his teammates have those ridiculous little spongebags / purses.

Hector 'Two Purses' Bellerin  Credit: Getty

Of COURSE Mesut has one. 

Credit: Arsenal via Getty

I expected more of Dat Guy, though. 

Welbz has also got a purse Credit: Getty

7:38PM

Alexis has a proper bag

Credit: Reuters

7:36PM

Arsenal bus

Credit: Getty

7:33PM

Arsene introduces his lesser-known keeper

7:25PM

That is a bird.

7:23PM

That is a man.

Credit: Sky Sports

7:17PM

Arsenal are late

Apparently they have only just arrived at the ground.

7:16PM

Claudio, what a man

"I don't believe the players killed me"

"I don't believe rumours the players spoke to the Leicester owners about sacking me.

"The players got to experience something totally different. In pre-season they played against big teams, went all over the world.

"I don't believe the players killed me. No, no no"

7:10PM

Teams

Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Kelly, Sakho, Schlupp,  Milivojevic, Cabaye, Zaha, Puncheon, Townsend,  Christian Benteke. Subs: Speroni, Flamini, McArthur, Fryers,  KaiKai, Sako, Delaney. 

Arsenal: Martinez, Bellerin, Mustafi, Gabriel, Monreal, Xhaka,  Elneny, Walcott, Ozil, Welbeck, Sanchez. Subs: Gibbs,  Mertesacker, Ramsey, Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin,  Macey. 

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland) 

7:08PM

Claudio Ranieri, no less, is on MNF

We're really interested to hear what he has to say about Leicester and his sacking. So much so that you can followa special live blog of it right here.

7:04PM

And here are the Eagles

7:03PM

Arsenal team to face Palace

7:03PM

Team news ahoy!

Arsenal first...

6:59PM

Politicos getting involved with sport

is always a treat, isn't it?

6:55PM

Good evening football fans

How's your Monday? Short week, just a few days to go, and then it's Happy Bunny Day And His Eggs, or Easter as I believe it is also known, and that's the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it? Or not. I don't know. Anyway, let's enjoy some excellent football this week, including the Champions League, and first of all, the visit of Arsenal to Crystal Palace, a fixture that has POTENTIAL BANANA UPSET written all over it for old Mad Dog Wenger and co.

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