Crystal Palace 2 Arsenal 3
This was a must-win game for London’s biggest club.
And they mostly looked like winning it.
But the first 20 minutes were quite scrappy and boring.
Then keeper Speroni slapped a shot by Lacazette to Mustafi, whose slick sidefoot made in 0-1 in 24.
When Speroni made a decent pointblank save from Ozil in 30, my reaction was: Arsenal will definitely score again before half-time.
But when Lacazette wriggled into a shooting position, his low shot flashed four feet wide of the post.
Then, at the other end, the disappointing Wilfried Zaha had a shot blocked for a corner.
The sparky warrior we call Alexis Sanchez was doing a prodigious amount of defending in the left back position.
Early in the second half, Zaha cut the ball back from the line to just behind the penalty spot where it connected with the left boot of Andros Townsend. The winger had sprinted across the penalty area, anticipating just that pass.
So Townsend smashed a left-foot shot past Cech for 1-1 in 49.
James MacArthur then replaced Cabaye.
When Benteke headed out a clearance to Calum Chambers, the defender picked out Sanchez in the box and he nodded to Lacazette while asking for a return pass.
Sanchez got the ball back and whacked his shot through the legs of Tomkins to make it 1-2 in 62 minutes. A world class goal.
Quite soon after that I had to put down my Christmas pudding and brandy butter to make a note of Arsenal’s next goal.
When Wilshere’s lofted pass into the box reached Sanchez, he controlled the ball brilliantly on his thigh and neatly made it 1-3.
In 81, Bellerin blasted a shot from narrow angle that Speroni saved.
In 89, Palace reduced Arsenal’s lead when James Tomkins headed in a left wing corner by Townsend.
Final score : Palace 2 Arsenal 3.
Liverpool have 38 points, while Spurs and Arsenal both have 37 .
VERDICT: Alexis Sanchez is still carrying Arsenal but he can join a big club on a free transfer in June. There is mucho magic in those red boots and I hope he wins the Champions League before he retires.He’s a phenomenal footballer and dozens of players half as gifted have won the European Cup or the Champions League.
As England manager, Roy Hodgson capped Andros Townsend, a left-footed right winger. Hodgson valued his pace and his ability to improvise, to make his own goals. He was never gonna be Arjen Robben but on a good night, as here, he can be Arjen Townsend.