Arsenal vs Crystal Palace result: Five things we learned as defences come out on top in draw

Gunners miss their chance to move into the top half

Karl Matchett
Thursday 14 January 2021 22:07
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Martinelli in training as Arsenal prepare for Crystal Palace

Arsenal and Crystal Palace played out a 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Thursday night.

The Gunners had more of the ball and spells when they looked close to opening up their visitors, but in truth it was another game of perspiration rather than inspiration in the final third from Mikel Arteta’s men.

Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang saw a fierce drive saved and Christian Benteke headed one towards goal in the chances of the first half, with James Tomkins nodding against the crossbar in between.

READ MORE: Premier League fixtures and table - all matches by date and kick-off time

The second half was a damp squib, ultimately, with Arsenal dominating possession but creating very little in the search of a fourth straight league victory, leaving them 11th in the table and seeing Palace remain in 13th.

Here are five things we learned from the draw in north London.

Clean sheets

Ahead of this match, Arsenal hadn’t managed a clean sheet in their last 11 home games in the Premier League.

Crystal Palace, meanwhile, hadn’t enjoyed a clean sheet in their previous 12 matches away from home in the same competition.

Naturally, then, this game finished 0-0.

Roy Hodgson will take heart from the organisation shown despite having the third-worst defensive record in the league, while Arteta will at least be able to point to an improvement in the same area with a third successive league shut-out.

Missing piece

The absence of Kieran Tierney was keenly felt, for Arsenal.

During an otherwise abject season, all things considered, the Scot has been a real stand-out with his consistency, drive and quality, and the lack of his overlapping thrust, crossing ability and endeavour down the left was sorely missed.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles didn’t have a great outing, but that’s besides the point - even his few good moments came in a very different way to Tierney, with cutting in and individual dribbling the England international’s approach from the left.

Tierney’s stock rose even higher here without setting foot on the pitch.

Eze watching

If Arsenal’s potential best player was missing, Palace’s was on full show.

Eberechi Eze was a very prominent figure for most of the match, dribbling past Arsenal defenders, opening up space at will and creating good counter-attacking chances for his team.

Consistency isn’t always there in his game yet, but he’s still learning at the top level - and in fairness, he doesn’t always have a huge amount of movement ahead of him to link with, either. He’s quickly becoming vital for Palace though and performances like this prove he can cut it against good sides.

Misfiring front men

Experienced attackers led the line at either end, but neither have been in tremendous form and neither went close to finding the moment of quality required.

Alexandre Lacazette did net a brace last time in the league against West Brom, but he was desperately quiet here, his best ‘chance’ stolen off his toes by team-mate Hector Bellerin, and the French forward tallied no efforts at goal before being subbed on 80 minutes.

Christian Benteke certainly did; he went off at the same time as his opposite number, but managed six shots before doing so - more than a quarter of the game’s total.

Sadly, aside from one header which was well-saved, he never got close to finding the back of the net, instead only troubling whichever poor soul had to constantly fetch his wayward efforts from 30 rows back in the stand behind the goal.

Upward trajectory?

For the Gunners there are two ways to view this result.

It is, realistically, two points dropped at home to a team placed below them in the table - but at the same time, this is the first time they have gone four unbeaten in the league this season.

Factoring in all competitions, it’s five unbeaten with the weekend FA Cup win, which is another first.

There are still clear issues for Arteta to overcome and his substitutions didn’t offer much inspiration or confidence that a victory was imminent, but after the horror show of November and December fans might take the small wins at present - even if this wasn’t one worth three points.

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