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Superb Draw Against Arsenal Not Without Controversy

Palace finally scored a goal at Selhurst Park in the exciting draw with Arsenal last weekend, in a game which the hosts played more like potential Champions League contenders.

Plain and simple, Palace outplayed an Arsenal side playing its best football in years. Players and fans alike should feel good about the point earned but both parties should contend that more should have come from the match.

However, there were some key factors that worked AGAINST our beloved Eagles on Sunday:

  1. Arsenal came into the game winners of their previous eleven matches (albeit the “best” win of the streak was home to Everton)
  2. Palace had scored exactly the same amount of goals that I had at Selhurst so far this season.
  3. Palace had only taken nine points from Arsenal in the previous ten seasons in the Premier League.

Expectations were not exactly high. Which is precisely the type of game that Palace seem to get results in during this most recent run in the Premier League. When you expect nothing from the club, they remind you why you care so much in the first place.

Palace started strong.

From the first whistle, Palace pressed Arsenal and even squandered two chances within the first twenty minutes. If a Wilfried Zaha shot is six inches to the right or if Andros Townsend does not botch a sure-fire goal and send the ball wide, it would have been 2-0 Palace in the blink of an eye.

Captain Luka Milivojevic finally broke through for the Eagles when he stepped to the spot and placed the ball into the bottom left to score the first home goal of the season. Six minutes of game-time later, Luka decided that he did not enjoy having a lead and gave away a needless free kick just outside the box. We all saw the Granit Xhaka goal so I’ll spare the details.

The only way to explain what happened next is to bluntly say that the officials missed one of the most blatant handballs in the history of the game (not over emphasising this one bit – although the Irish may have something to say about that!). Alexandre Lacazette was clearly inspired from the bit of American Football that he was no doubt watching pre-game.

(Quick tangent: I’ve seen Arsenal fans cry out about how it should have been a penalty on Lacazette before the handball. I know I am no expert on this sport but I was unaware that when you pull a players jersey slightly that it causes an automatic reaction to fling your arms upwards in a sport where using your hands is not allowed.)

As if the officials missing the obvious hand ball was not bad enough, goal line technology determined that the Pierre Emerick Aubameyang shot crossed the goal line by 9mm. To give you perspective on just how slight of a measurement that is, a piece of long grain rice is usually 7-9mm long. The ball crossed the goal-line by the length of a grain of rice to give Arsenal the lead. Another heartbreak on home turf.

Or so we thought.

Palace finally showed the resilience to break through that has been lacking so far this season. Now, is that directly from Roy Hodgson remembering that he can actually use his substitutes before the 80th minute? Hard to say but I’d probably say yes.

Zaha broke down the right hand side and at last challenged the odd decision by Unai Emery to start Xhaka at left back. After faking left, Wilf went wide and Xhaka left a leg dangling and our number eleven took advantage of the mistake. Just as any other winger in the Premier League would have done and not caught any flack for doing so. But since there has been this agenda to label Wilf as a diver, that is all anyone could talk about. Never mind Xhaka admitting that he fouled him after the game, the haters and losers (of which there are many) have made up their minds. What is unacceptable are the racist fans that still to this day cannot fathom a black football player being successful. It is disgusting what happens to not only Wilf, but other players like Raheem Sterling in this day and age. But I digress…

Luka stepped up like the captain he is and drove the ball past a diving Bernd Leno to tie with less than ten minutes to go. Palace was the better side throughout the match and the statistics show it. Arsenal could not hang with Wilf, and their sixteen fouls was indicative of the pace at which Palace played.

The road does not get any easier

As mentioned quite often this last month, the next four matches are the toughest of the season. The club have already picked up as many points as they did against Newcastle, Bournemouth, Wolves and Everton. It wouldn’t be Palace if it wasn’t hard.

We go again on Sunday against another top side. Palace are 3-0-3 against Chelsea in the last three seasons. In fact, two of the three wins have come at Stamford Bridge where the game will be played on Sunday. This match-up historically is all or nothing in the points column. The last time these teams played out a draw was back in 1995 with the game ending goalless.

As insane as it may be, I fully expect Palace to win one of their next three matches. Maybe it’s Chelsea again. Or the squad exorcises its 1-0 Spurs demons. Perhaps the bad United shows up and Jose is too preoccupied holding up three fingers. Why not all three right???



(Writers note: Yes, I know the Carabao Cup loss to Middlesbrough happened but because we lost I’m refusing to acknowledge it. Plus, there was no way for me to watch or listen so in my mind it never happened. Based on Twitter chatter, I’d suggest you forget as well. I still think its rubbish that Palace had to travel to Swansea, West Brom, and then Boro – what type of draw is that? Someone didn’t like us. Anyway, it’s over for another season.)



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