London Derby Time
Updated: Jun 10
Never have I felt so confident about Arsenal getting a victory in my life, especially after the last 4 months we’ve had, winning the FA Cup; Community Shield plus making the huge signing of Chilean Alexis Sanchez, surely I can be forgiven for being a little cocky. I’m not trying to disrespect Crystal Palace either then I say that, you just have to bear in mind that the south London club had literally parted ways with their manager Tony “Manager of the Season” Pulis two days earlier. Once hearing this my mind was fully made up ‘This is going to be a big victory’ I told myself. I was 5-1 to the Arsenal maybe.
The Full line up was:
Szczesny, Koscielny, Gibbs, Chambers, Debuchy, Wilshere, Cazorla, Arteta, Ramsey, Sanogo, Sanchez
Subs: Martinez, Monreal, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Campbell, Rosicky, Giroud
Crystal Palace 11:
Speroni, Dann, Ward, Ledley, Hangeland, Kelly, Bolasie, Jedinak, Puncheon, Campbell, Chamakh
Subs: Hennessey, O’keefe, Delaney, McCarthy, Bannan, Gayle, Murray
I went to this game and as you do, discovered the starting lineup by TWITTER. I was expecting a strong team to be out even without the availability of the Germans and I wasn’t disappointed. Wenger had opted to start with 3 debutants in Chambers, Debuchy & Sanchez. All three players enjoyed a decent preseason which lifted the confidence even more. You could sense this when walking to the ground from the station, a lot of chatter about who will perform, will Sanchez play on top and can palace cope. I have to say I was a tad surprised Wenger had chosen Sanogo over Giroud but after the young Frenchmen performance in the Emirates Cup he’s obviously done enough to get himself the nudge over his French counterpart.
This first half saw us dominate even though at times it looked as if we were scared to commit to our usual free-flowing forward play! Some would say it was down to Palace’s deep backline and insistence to have 10 behind the ball. However, for me, it wasn’t just that, you could see there was also a clear lack of movement from the forward players. Jack, Ramsey and Cazorla make feeble attempts to run behind the defensive line to help the lone striking Sanogo. Palace gifted Arsenal with a lot of possession but the possession was wasted far too often; there was far too much sideways and backwards passing and not many attempts at goal. Bar Jack Wilshire’s effort from outside the 18-yard box forced Speroni into making a good save.
However it was Palace to struck first and you have to give it to them, they toughed it out. Put that defensive wall up and waited for the gunners to make a mistake and when they did Palace took their one and only chance and made it count! Hangeland used his height to tower over all the defensive players around him and direct the ball past Szczesny.
The Atmosphere changed in the emirates after that goal, you could sense the air of desperation starting to settle in. Being that last season Arsenal went down 3-1 to Aston Villa in the opening game of the season and that was something we fans and players alike did not want to see happen again. So when Koscielny bagged the all and important equaliser just at the end of the first half, the pressure lifted. There were shouts by the palace defence for offside but it never was a fully deserved goal! The first half ended one goal apiece.
Second half Happenings
In the second half things didn’t improve by much, It's actually fair to say Arsenal made that f***ing hard for ourselves! Palace again set up to restrict the boys from playing their crisp free-flowing football but just like in the first half this wasn’t helped by the fact that our midfielders were making too many mistakes. I’ve got to be honest, Santi Cazorla was absolutely sh*** today! Disappointing in every area for me, his short passing S***; long-range passing S***; keep ball S*** and strength on the ball ABSOLUTELY S***! Everything about him was below par!
Hopefully, that was his worst performance of the season as I'm not too sure the home faithful will stand for that again. But in saying that Palace barely had any real chances, a few runs from Bolasie being the main danger. The game swung in Arsenal favour when Puncheon got himself sent off for a second bookable offence, a challenge he didn’t really have to make on Nacho Monreal (Who came on for Kieran Gibbs just after halftime). This effectively rejuvenated Arsenal who then went on to steal the match minutes later when Rambo fired in from close range. The Emirates erupted and Arsenal was victorious, it may have been a stiff test but the boys got the job done.
My man of the match:
Saturday's real stand out performer was Calum Chambers! The young defender was excellent, he barely put a foot wrong, making a number of interceptions and some great tackles. The best thing about chambers performance is that he looked like he had been playing in that back four partnership for years, if he keeps up those performances he could go on to become an Arsenal legend! An honourable mention to Sanchez there's a lot more to come from him once he gets up to the pace of the game! This Blog of Events has been brought directly to your screens G.Henry aka DaGman