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Back to football! Crystal Palace VS Arsenal 20/21

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all well.

We’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, with the most recent advancement being the return to Premier League football for the fans! I was one of the lucky 6,500 fans to get tickets for Palace vs Arsenal on the 19th of May 2021, back home at Selhurst Park 😊. Palace have had some great performances while we’ve been at home hopefully that can continue into next seasons with the fans.

So, the journey to Selhurst began when I was picked up from school, and we had to quickly go get changed into some warmer clothes before leaving for the stadium. It was a 7pm kick off but we arrived at around 6pm to make the most of attending a game. We normally sit in the main stand on pitch side, but due to the limitations of tickets that stand was shut so we sat in the Arthur Wait stand disabled section. This was very different from my original seat as we were behind and above the rest of the fans. Although we were sitting in a different section, we still had access to the car park, so it was only a five-minute walk to our seat. When we first arrived, the view was insane and we could see the whole pitch, sadly when the rest of the fans stood up in the game our view was limited. There seemed to be 2 sections of seats in the wheelchair area with the first having seats further back from the wheelchairs, and the section we sat in had the PA seats next to the wheelchair, which we preferred. My mum much preferred the seats in the disabled area in the Arthur Wait because we were under shelter, but I will be returning to my original seat in the Main Stand next season. There were some other disabled fans in attendance, but we didn’t see them as they were at the other end.

Before the game started Roy Hodgson was given a guard of honour from both players and fans, this was because it was his final home game in charge of Palace. The team sheets were read out, and the game started. This was the first match for Tyrick Mitchell with fans and it would have been for Eze too but sadly he got injured a few days before. There were 6,500 fans in attendance, but they definitely made up the time missed singing the whole match, creating an amazing atmosphere. My friend Anna also managed to get tickets, before kick off we tried to find each other but was unsuccessful because there were so many people, I will find you next time Anna 😊!

Arsenal started the game pretty dominant, but Palace didn’t stop the hard work to stop them. Early in the first half in the 10th minute there was an incident in the arsenal penalty area involving Ward and Tierney, with a potential penalty but nothing was given, and it was concluded that Tierney had dived causing a lot of anger from the palace fans, the boo’s continued for the whole game when he was on the ball looking for a reaction (which they got). The lyrics ‘same out arsenal always cheating’ echoing the stands. We managed to have a few breaks through Benteke and Zaha, but nothing came from them. In the 23rd minute we had an opportunity to score as Townsend whipped the ball into the box from a corner to Tomkins, who got a shot on target causing Leno to make a save. Arsenal then had multiple consecutive corners, but our defence managed to deal with them. Wilf was back with tricky feet when coming up against Chambers, leading to him being fouled winning a free kick down the left of the pitch. Andros whipped this in and Benteke headed it just over the bar! There was a penalty shout for Arsenal involving Saka, so he along with Tierney were booed the remainder of the game by the Palace fans.

Sadly, they were both involved in Arsenal’s opening goal in the 35th minute, scored by Pepe. It was very strange when the away team scored because the stadium went completely silent as there were no Arsenal fans. Thankfully, there were Palace fans in there and we were able to lift the boys and get to half time being just 1-0 down.

Before half time there was a VAR check after a scrap between Benteke and Elneny, but it wasn’t deemed a red card and both players just got yellow cards. There was also a Penalty shout for us when Zaha went down in the box, but the ref waved it away and continued the game. There were a few more chances for Palace to equalise before the break, including a close free kick from Townsend but nothing came from them. It was then half time.

During half time there was a small congratulations for the academy under 18 boys, who had a tremendous finishing second in their league on goal difference, they have a very exciting future and definitely some players to watch out for! Hopefully, the academy renovation will be finished soon so they can have fans supporting them. In our seat we were not offered any half time food like at our normal seat, but this may have been due to covid.

The second half was then underway with no changes for either team, Palace were now shooting towards the Holmesdale stand. There was a promising start from us creating some early chances, but none were taken. For the next portion of the game, it was very end to end. Once again, the palace fans were very good at telling the ref how they felt, this time regarding the time Arsenal were taking on their throw ins, but there was no change.

In the 62nd minute another free kick was whipped in from Andros, and this time Tekkers (Benteke) got himself on the score sheet via a header, his 10th goal of the season! As his celebration he showed the number ‘25’ with his hands, as a tribute for Eze who has a long-term injury. There was an anxious wait as VAR checked for a possible offside and push, but the goal was given! The stadium erupted as it was now 1-1 and game on! There were some immediate Arsenal substitutions but still no sign of change from the Palace bench.

Some instant drama followed with Zaha being pulled down in the box, but once again to ref waved played on and there was no VAR check! The replay showed the contact was made outside the box, so it was down to the referee or linesman to stop the game. We had a far better second half creating lots more chances. Benteke had an opportunity to get his second of the evening in the 70th minute, after a failed clearance from Arsenal, but Leno was able to make a save at his near post. Once again Zaha was our dangerman driving into the box, but sadly the goalkeeper and defence was able to get the ball away.

Mitchell was given a difficult job of marking Pepe but in my opinion he did very well against him in the majority of the game, getting a lot of deserved credit from the fans. In the 79th minute Roy made his first sub of the game, replacing Benteke with Ayew, who got a good welcome to the pitch from the fans, as well as the applause off for Benteke. Ayew nearly made an instant impact from a corner but sadly he wasn’t able to make great contact.

Palace were looking really strong and had chances to score a second in the later stages of the match, but still nothing. We were now into stoppage time. Sadly, in the 90th minute Arsenal took their rare chance and made it 2-1, as Martinelli scored, there was a brief VAR check, but the goal was given. It quickly went from bad to worse, as Pepe scored his second of the evening in the 90+4th minute, making it 3-1. For the first time Selhurst fell silent as we realised time was up and we had no chance to pull it back. The final whistle blew, and it was all over at Selhurst Park.

Although we lost, I was still very happy to be at the stadium watching the game and embracing the atmosphere around us, hopefully not too long till we’re back! I’m hoping to get tickets for the u23 playoff final so it may be sooner then expected.

After the match Roy and Ray were presented with their departure gifts, before Roy gave a speech to the fans, it was nice that we were able to get back and say goodbye to him before he left. The players and staff then did a lap of honour for the fans, like they normally do on the final home game. As Eze was unable to be there Andros wore his shirt to show we are all supporting him through his injury. We then left the stadium and had a short walk back to the car, the only positive of having less fans were we got home much faster, but hopefully all fans are back next game!

Match stats:

• Palace had a total of 31.3% possession, Arsenal had 68.7%

• Palace had a total of 12 shots with 6 on target.

• Arsenal had 6 shots with 3 on target.

The view from our seat

Roy Hodgson's guard of honour

Beneteke's goal reaction

Thank you for reading, stay safe.

Ellie X

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