Arsenal blew a fantastic chance to go third and distance themselves from Manchester United after Crystal Palace condemned them to an unlikely home defeat.
Shkodran Mustafi’s name is becoming synonymous with defensive lapses as far as Arsenal fans are concerned. The German defender had a horrendous outing and visibly had a hand in all three of Crystal Palace’s goals, as Arsenal blew a glorious chance to take control of the top four race, especially when they could have leapfrogged Tottenham into third and opened up a sizable gap to Manchester United.
Instead, Crystal Palace took advantage of Arsenal’s defensive lapses to put up a clinical show and score three past them. Christian Benteke, who had not scored a league goal for more than a year, ended his 19-game drought with the opener. Mesut Ozil equalised in style just as the second period began, after which it was the Mustafi disaster show, which Wilfried Zaha took full advantage of.
James McArthur scored the third, and although a brilliant effort from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave Arsenal some hope, the Gunners were wasteful from any opportunities created thereafter. In the end, it was Palace who confirmed their status for yet another season after crossing the 40-point barrier, with the Gunners dropping down to fifth following Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Burnley on Monday.
Let’s take a look at how Arsenal players fared against Crystal Palace at the Emirates.
Bernd Leno: 6.5/10
Leno, as has been the case in many recent games was good in his position. Made a few stops, including a double save from Cheikhou Kouyate in the first period. He could have done nothing to prevent any of the three goals, for he was exposed far too much by his defence.
Shkodran Mustafi: 1/10
Arsenal fans were left fuming with the defender’s display, and many were expressive enough on Twitter in the aftermath of the game. The German was at fault for the first goal when he failed to mark Benteke as he was tasked to do so. For the second, he just switched off to watch Zaha score with ease, while with the third, he was at fault for not defending the set piece well. Horrible performance from Mustafi.
Laurent Koscielny: 5/10
Playing these many games in the middle of a fixture congestion must take a toll on the ageing Frenchman at some point, and it was the match against Crystal Palace where it showed. Was the best of all defenders nonetheless, but visibly needs a rest.
Konstantinos Mavropanos: 4/10
The young Greek defender started a second league game in a row, and fans will not be happy with what they saw. Gave away a silly free-kick that resulted in the first goal, and he looked incredibly rusty before rightly being taken off by Emery.
Carl Jenkinson: 4/10
Clearly not up to the task for a quality game like this one. Jenkinson worked hard and did not lack for effort, but he was really poor when it came to doing his primary job, that was defending, let alone attack effectively from a full-back position.
Mohamed Elneny: 4/10
His status as mostly being out of favour was vindicated in the game. Elneny seemingly offers nothing to Arsenal’s energetic midfield. His passes are far too simple, offering no attacking threat while at times he can be overrun in defence far too easily.
Mesut Ozil: 6.5/10
Did a decent job when afforded time on the ball. Ozil scored a lovely goal with his typical squeeze finish, but there was a noticeable lack of link-up in midfield. At times when he did that, Arsenal were able to streamline attacks very well. Just needs to complete his tasks more effectively.
Matteo Guendouzi: 4.5/10
It is now two games now that Guendouzi has underperformed, and ran around like the proverbial “headless chicken”. He was the best of the midfield two as he tried to make things happen at times, but to no avail. Part of his learning curve.
Sead Kolasinac: 4/10
There seems to be a problem of late with Kolasinac. Credit to him his defending has improved a bit, but only so much, whereas in attack he’s lost his composure and rhythm to make his runs count. His end product is leaving quite a bit to be desired, and there is a general feeling he is jaded.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 6/10
Apart from the moment he scored that brilliant goal, Aubameyang had a relatively quiet game. Not at his best, which is quite perplexing. But, there were flashes of what he could do, and the goal was evidence of more to come from the Gabonese.
Alexandre Lacazette: 7/10
Arsenal’s best player on a miserable evening. Lacazette typically worked hard off the ball and produced many moments of brilliant hold-up play, while also getting the assist for Ozil’s goal.
Alex Iwobi: 6/10
It’s baffling how Iwobi conducts himself in an attacking position and in the final third. When starting attacks or being a part of build-up play, he’s the most reliable player, but he seemingly loses confidence when inside the area. Overall a decent cameo as he injected some much-needed energy and directness into Arsenal’s play.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 7/10
Emery must be wondering if Maitland-Niles should have started the game considering the form he is in, and the player rightly showed the manager why. Maitland-Niles was excellent in defence and took control of his flank to support attacks. Should start the next games, without any hesitations.
Lucas Torreira: 5/10
Not sure if sending him on the pitch at a time when Arsenal needed a goal was the right choice. Could not influence the game as a heroic substitute should, but his introduction did stabilise Arsenal’s midfield.