Bukayo Saka scored a brace to help Arsenal produce one of the most comfortable football scores of the weekend in the Premier League. With Manchester City playing in the FA Cup on Saturday, Arsenal took advantage of the opportunity to expand their lead against a Palace side coached by temporary manager Paddy McCarthy after Patrick Vieira was ousted on Friday. Both Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka scored in the first half, but only after the visitors had come within a whisker of taking the lead when Wilfried Zaha’s early shot rebounded off a post. Granit Xhaka added a third just after halftime to seal the points, although Palace, who had gone winless in their previous 13 matches in all competitions, scored their first goal in five games when Jeffrey Schlupp turned in from close range at a corner.
Crystal Palace was forced to make a late substitution after Joachim Andersen was hurt in the warm-up and replaced by James Tomkins, but they started quickly and nearly lead when Zaha was sent in behind and fired a low drive off the left post. Odsonne Edouard was subsequently released beyond the Arsenal defense, but he was whistled offside after Aaron Ramsdale made a one-on-one stop. Arsenal’s first shot came after 18 minutes when teenager Joe Whitworth pushed Martin Odegaard’s effort from the edge of the box away.
The hosts were piling on the pressure down Palace’s left flank, and ultimately, Saka crossed for Martinelli, who switched the ball onto his left foot, gaining a yard on Joel Ward, before blasting across Whitworth and into the bottom right corner for his sixth Premier League goal in as many games. From then on Arsenal was in control. Saka added the second after Odegaard rolled a shot wide of the right post. Ben White slid him in, with the winger moving inside the box behind Mitchell before finishing into the corner.
As Palace looked to build a comeback early in the second half, Zaha stung Ramsdale’s hands, but Xhaka bundled home from close range to seal the points inside 55 minutes. Schlupp gave the traveling fans something to cheer about when he turned in from close range at a corner, and things could have been exciting had Zaha not rolled the ball inches wide from an angle with over 15 minutes remaining. Saka ensured there would be no late drama by bending home from substitute Kierney Tierney’s pull-back to round off a magnificent afternoon.
“I’m quite happy with our performance, determination, and enthusiasm once again. The way we handled the game was excellent. It’s always difficult following Thursday night when they played 120 minutes and responded magnificently. I’m overjoyed since the audience was at it again,” Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said. “We gave up a goal on a set play, and the way we did it was awful, but we can take a lot of positives from it. There are several aspects we can improve on, particularly in the second half when we had complete control of the game, in order to be even more dominating and score more goals. Be more considerate of the little things. We were incredibly dominant and efficient in finding gaps against a really compact and challenging low block, with some excellent goals and combinations.”
“We’re not sure [whether he’ll play again this season]. The doctor will examine him. It’s not looking well, to be sure. He isn’t one to exaggerate things, so we know it’s serious. We hope that the news is better for William (Saliba),” he added. “We had no choice but to reply. Gabriel Jesus was out for four months, and Emile (Smith Rowe) was out for four and a half months. Kieran (Tierney), Thomas (Partey), Alex Zinchenko, and Eddie Nketiah are unavailable. Now it’s Tomiyasu and Saliba’s turn. You must conquer these challenges. We’ve finished. Today, Rob (Holding) was fantastic. To be on the same level, everyone must give something extra.”
“It’s been a whirlwind. But we’ve done our best to keep the players as safe as possible. The game’s opening was quite positive, and we had a chance to take the lead. We knew we had to be on our game today in order to beat a very good Arsenal team. If we had taken one of those earlier chances, the outcome today may have been different,” Crystal Palace interim manager Paddy McCarthy said. “I haven’t had time to think about anything other than getting the team ready for [Sunday’s] game. This has been my sole attention. There have been no talks. I’m willing to do anything the football club requires of me. I’ve been working here for 15 years. Anything this club requires of me at this time, I will do.”
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