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Crystal Palace vs Arsenal 22/23

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Hi everyone,

Hope you are all well and had a good break!

On Friday 5th of August Crystal Palace welcomed Arsenal to Selhurst Park for the opening game of the 22/23 Premier League season for our first London derby. Both teams did some good business during the summer with Palace introducing Malcolm Ebiowei, Sam Johnstone, Cheick Doucoure, Chris Richards and Luke Plange (who was on loan to Derby after originally being signed in January) into the squad. During preseason Arsenal’s new signing Gabriel Jesus gave Palace something to think about scoring 7 goals in 5 games, he was the one player I was worried about going into the game. Palace also had a decent preseason with half the team in England winning all but one game, the other half went on tour to Australia they had a tougher set of fixtures so only managed to get a draw from one game. The most recent game in our preseason run saw all the team join back together to face Montpellier at Selhurst park, we came away with a 4-2 victory taking them into the season on a high.

This game was an 8pm kick off and was actually the first Friday night game I’ve ever attended at Selhurst Park, last time the team faced each other it was also a late night kick off and Palace managed to come away with a fantastic 3-0 victory. Would’ve been lovely to open the season with another win against the gunners! Before the game an aeroplane flew over the stadium carrying a banner that read “kick rapists of the pitch” this was following the news of Arsenal’s Thomas Partey being involved in a rape allegation, I was surprised to see him in the line-up as the case is still ongoing, he rightly got booed every time he touched the ball throughout the game. The Holmesdale Fanatics also arranged a Tifo covering the whole stand with strips of all the Palace colours before a large image of the old Crystal Palace building was revealed, along the bottom was a banner which read “Crystal Palace Football Club – era after era since 1861”. During the summer Palace announced they had found new evidence that we was created in 1861 making us the oldest club in the Premier League. The atmosphere was great throughout the 90 minutes and in fairness Arsenal were pretty loud themselves.

The team was pretty similar to the one that faced Manchester United at the end of last season, the only differences were Doucoure, Eze and Ayew replacing Gallagher, Hughes and Rak-Sakyi. During the summer Tayo Adaramola was sent out on loan to Coventry to get some experience, now Rak-Sakyi is the only academy player to be named on the squad list for the season although he wasn’t in the team for this game.

This season it has been decided the players will only take the knee on big occasions, the opening weekend was included in this, so the majority of the players and staff took the knee on the referee’s whistle. 8 seconds later and the first game of the season had begun! We didn’t start the best losing the ball very cheaply, one mistake led to Arsenal nearly punishing us in the first 5 minutes. Zaha gave the ball away giving it straight to Jesus, he was able to dribble past about 4 players in red and blue driving towards goal, his shot was finally blocked by Guehi but only into the path of Martinelli who was completely unmarked thankfully his shot went straight past the far post. A long shot attempt from Zinchenko forced a good save from Guaita as it got a deflection off Clyne on the way through, Arsenal were all over us controlling the possession as we struggled to keep hold of the ball. One of our first attacks went down our left with Zaha as he got passed Ben White, he was unable to keep the ball with Saka coming back to help. We made it way too easy for Arsenal to play out of the back leaving them too much space and not closing the players down. Edouard showed great strength to win the ball back in the midfield before laying it off to Eze, he span away from his man and played Zaha down the wing, his ball didn’t reach the target and hit the first Arsenal defender. We started to grow into the game with Doucoure winning the ball back with a great tackle releasing Schlupp down the wing, his direct run towards goal was stopped as an Arsenal player put it out of play - the referee somehow awarded Arsenal the throw in and this wasn’t the first poor decision by Antony Taylor. Again, shortly after Ayew won the ball back in midfield releasing Eze to play Zaha in, his shot was again blocked. Schlupp picked up the ball and after some composed defending from Guehi we managed to keep the ball for a period of time. Eze looked really bright and seemed to be involved in a lot of our play. An obviously pre-rehearsed corner was played to the far side of the box meeting the head of Zinchenko he headed it back across into the path of Martinelli who finished it into the back of the net in the 20th minute making it 1-0 to Arsenal, the marking of both players in the build-up was poor and something Vieira needs to improve ASAP. Arsenal’s next corner didn’t go quite as well with Guaita coming out with a great punch away. A poor kick out from Ramsdale went straight into Edouard, luckily for him it deflected wide into his players path, Doucoure won the ball back releasing Eze towards to by line, his cross found Zaha at the back post but his over the head shot was sent wide by a deflection from White, the ref went on to award Arsenal a free kick for an offside. A beautiful ball behind the Arsenal defence from Andersen found Zaha, he got himself into a great position to have a shot but tried to take too many touches and ended up losing the ball. There was a handball shout for us just after the halfway mark, but the ref wasn’t interested. I thought we were playing well but with some awful decisions being made by the ref it was hard to find a rhythm. Safe to say he got a huge cheer when he finally made a correct decision. The final piece of action in the first half saw a free kick awarded for a foul on Zaha, Eze whipped to far side of the box finding Andersen who was able to header it back into the path of Edouard, his header forced a good save from the keeper even though it was straight at him, sadly no one in red and blue was alert enough for the rebound. These are the kind of chances we have to start taking!

Although we went into the break 1-0 down we didn’t deserve it, apart from a few chances early on as we started slow Arsenal didn’t pose much threat and we were definitely still in the game. We played well and was showing great passion, we only lacked the final ball which is obviously the most important. The ref had a massive impact on the game, which was favouring Arsenal in every way, a very frustrating half to watch. When we had the ball I feel like we was trying to play too much football at times and not just getting the ball in the box to create chances, although it was nice to see us actually being able to pass to each other for a long period of time. During the half time break former Palace player Mile Jedinek was welcomed onto the pitch to say a few words.

The second half started with some early defending needed as Andersen successfully used his strength to keep Jesus back allowing Guaita to collect. Schlupp was urged by the crowd to shoot from outside the box, he took his chance, and his shot was deflected wide for a corner, I would much rather see this then playing the ball round too much and losing possession. We tried to hit Arsenal on the counterattack, Ayew was released down the centre and was able to make a direct run towards goal, he eventually played Edouard in, but he couldn’t keep hold of the ball losing possession once again; Andersen was again at the other end of the brilliant ball to Ayew starting the attack. Zaha played an inch perfect ball in between two Arsenal players finding Eze completely free at the edge of the box, he took the ball perfectly in his stride, but his finish was straight at the keeper who came out to close Ebs down, another chance we have to be scoring! The first substitution for us saw Edouard be replaced by Mateta, I thought Edouard had a good first half applying lots of pressure, but we struggled to get him involved after the break. Ben White was finally booked on the hour mark for a foul as he struggled to handle Zaha the whole match. We had a corner near replica to the Arsenal’s in the first half but somehow ours didn’t cross the line, the phase of play ended with the ref giving yet another decision against us. The next substitution saw Doucoure be replaced by Milivojevic; Cheick had a decent game making some fantastic tackles to win the ball back, he is go down injured just before the sub was made so hopefully it’s nothing serious as we definitely need him this season. We was totally dominating possession, but we just couldn’t get the ball into a dangerous enough position, but to be playing the ball around confidently was great to see. Completely against the run of play Arsenal got their second of the game, an own goal coming off Guehi’s head from a Saka cross, the feeling of hope was suddenly drained from the stadium with just 5 minutes left after coming so close on multiple occasions to an equaliser. This was followed by an immediate double change seeing Schlupp and Eze leave the field to be replaced by Milivojevic and Ebiowei for his premier league debut. Although we were losing Palace fans still continued to show their support, with the Arsenal fans only perking up when their second goal went in.

The game did end 2-0 and I think the main thing we need to take from the game is we must take our chances if we want any kind of chance of success this season. I think the overall performance from the half hour point onwards was strong and had lots of positives they can work from. It was also great to see Ebiowei on the pitch even if it was only for a short period of time, hopefully a lot more Premier League debuts for the new boys in the upcoming weeks. We should also have Olise back in the next few weeks as he starts to re-join training after a foot injury he picked up at the end of last season, so we have a lot to look forward to as Crystal Palace fans.

Our next game is Liverpool away followed by Aston Villa at home the week after, I am also attending an under 21 game on Monday at Selhurst against Brighton as they start their season so look out for those posts!

Thank you for reading

Ellie Xx


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