Eagles point to safety at Arsenal
Written By: Robert Halter
Crystal Palace prepared to end a losing streak of six games in a row against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium mid April. A sloppy back pass from Mohamed Elneny kept the Gunners keeper, Petr Cech on his toes in the opening minute. On six minutes, as Mesut Ozil whipped the ball in, Danny Welbeck’s final touch let him down, while in range of the target. In the seventeenth minute, an in swinging cross by Pape Souare was put wide of the mark from a glancing header by Scott Dann. Two minutes later, a looping long range strike by Elneny, took a nick off Eagles captain, Mile Jedinak, as the ball ballooned over the upright, from an Alex Iwobi assist. In the twentieth minute, Welbeck missed with a header to the right following a cross by Ozil. But in the twenty eighth minute, Cech had to smother a shot from Yannick Bolasie, after a knock on by Dann with a headed pass. On thirty six minutes, an Ozil corner found the head of Laurent Koscielny, but the Eagles keeper, Wayne Hennessy, was not troubled, as the ball went wide. After Welbeck stumbled to the floor after Dann’s late challenge, a free kick by Alexis Sanchez, deflected off Jedinak in the wall and went fractions past the left post, three minutes later. But on forty three minutes, an incisive through ball from Sanchez was pushed against Hennessy by a toe poke from Ozil, who was being marshalled by Dann. Just before the break after Jason Puncheon was appended by Francis Coquelin, a free kick from Yohan Cabaye was headed high over the upright by Connor Wickham, which proved costly as the Gunners took the lead in the final piece of action during the first half when from a lofted cross by Welbeck, a looping header by Sanchez from the centre of the box went past the stranded Hennessy. Before the re-start, Jedinak was replaced by Bakary Sako. In the forty seventh minute, Welbeck put a header wide to the left from an Ozil cross and then within four minutes, a free header by Iwobi was spurned past the left post after he was found with a cross by Coquelin. On fifty three minutes, a back heel by Iwobi was connected to with a right footed shot by Welbeck but Hennessy protected the near side of the goal with a close range stop. In the fifty seventh minute, after Joe Ledley tugged Sanchez, a free kick from Ozil bent fractions past the top right corner. To a ring of boos from the Arsenal fans, a former friend turned foe, Emmanuel Adebayor, took over from Wickham. Following a free kick by Ozil, a scissors kick by Welbeck required a strong block by Hennessy, after Sanchez had been clipped by Souare in the sixty fourth minute. In the next two minutes, a ball over the top by Ozil, was put past the far post from the head of Sanchez. On sixty eight minutes, Palace were caught out by a quickly taken free kick by Ozil as a glancing header by Sanchez, drifted past the right post, after Nacho Monreal had been pulled down by Ledley. Arsenal later changed Welbeck with Olivier Giroud and Iwobi with Aaron Ramsey, while the Eagles brought on Wilfried Saha for Puncheon. But on seventy six minutes, an acrobatic tip over by Cech, pushed above the upright Sako’s bullet header through a Cabaye corner. A minute later, Giroud’s strike from the centre of the box was saved by Hennessy from an Ozil cross and then after Adebayor lost possession, Sanchez snatched at a shot wide to the left. But against the run of play, the Eagles finally landed, as Adebayor broke down the left to give Bolasie a strike at goal, as his low drive crept past Cech into the bottom left corner of the near post, in the eighty first minute. The Gunners then brought on Theo Walcott for Elneny. As Gabriel Paulista was caught by Adebayor, he was unable to find a late winner as Paulista guided the ball into Hennessy from Ozil’s free kick. After Sako’s effort went too high from a Bolasie assist, it was the Eagles last act as in the final throw of the dice for Arsenal, Sanchez blasted over from a Hector Bellerin cross as the draw left Crystal Palace away from relegation and Arsenal in the fourth Champions League place.