There’s still a fragility about this Arsenal side.
And the dreaded and damaging inconsistency threatened to return.
The result won’t do Vieira’s chances of managing Arsenal one day any harm. The way he has turned round Palace’s style in under ten games is impressive.
Arsenal unbelievably have only scored one goal in the second half all season. And the 2-2 result in a game Arsenal should be winning, doesn’t do anything to dispel the club’s mid-table status.
Arsenal had a bonus with Arsenal fan and tormentor, Zaha out with Benteke in. Palace hadn’t lost in last three visits to the Emirates
Arsenal had 15 players away on international duty. The change from the previous match was Lokonga out, Pepe in.
Arsenal were sloppy in the first five.
But on 8, Tomiyasu linked in a one-two with Pepe who drove inside and set a curler, pushed out by Guaita – only to the onrushing Aubameyang who tucked it in from a narrow angle.
Speedfulness said an ad board. And that could sum up Arsenal in the first 25 minutes – but some passes went astray.
Arsenal’s press created a chance for Smith Rowe who drove hard at Guiata.
But as the half progressed, Palace came into it more Gallagher had a pop centrally – but straight at Ramsdale. Benteke turned and shot – straight at Ramsdale. Mitchell nipped in to cross to Edouard who knocked it over.
Arsenal ran out of steam towards the end of the half, with Arteta saying it was the team psychologically hanging onto the 1-0 lead. It was probably more to do with Partey being overrun and the defence dropping further back.
McArthur thwacked Saka on the calf and got a deserved yellow – escaping a previous on with a blatant foul. Some referees could have given a red. But Mike Dean….
From a corner, Gabriel headed out and Gallagher hit the volley goalwards with Ramsdale diving impressively to push it past the post. Tomiyasu’s distribution could have been better.
Arsenal started the second aggressively and Partey tried a curler nearly catching Guiata out.
But Tomiyasu passed to the Ghanain who was pressed by Ayew. The ball found its way to Benteke who shifted it onto his right and drove it into the corner of the net. White maybe should have shown the Belgian onto his weaker left.
Arsenal’s attacks frequently broke down on Palace’s defence. There was no cutting edge.
Lacazette sparked things coming on for Odegaard and setting up Aubameyang. It raised the noise level. And then he set up Smith Rowe – who fired wide on his weaker foot.
Then Aubameyang linked up with Lacazette for a chance saved by Guita
Lokonga, who passed backwards too many times, was robbed by Gallagher in a press and he set up a fast counter ending with Edouard firing in off the bar.
Martinelli came on for Partey and straight away drove in a dangerous cross.
Tierney hit the crossbar from a Pepe cross going across the area.
With one minute to go a cross went in, White hit a low volley goalwards touched out by McCarthy on the line – but straight to Lacazette who rammed it home.
The Frenchman said: “The main thing was avoiding losing. We started well and stopped playing. It is something we have to work on in the future. It is a relief to get my first goal in the season. I didn’t have a lot of minutes.
“To come back shows we have character. We don’t tank.”
Patrick Vieira said: “It was [the win] so close, but we are saying that too often. We have to learn. I’m really disappointed. The way the team played in the second half – we deserved to win. To concede was unlucky. We are learning in a harsh way.”
Mikel Arteta pointed to mistakes and retreating into shells following going 1-0 up. He also mentioned maturity in game management.
On the Saka incident, he said: “It’s a clear red card. He had no intention of playing the ball. I don’t know how, with VAR, he hasn’t been sent off.”
Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 2
Arsenal: 32Ramsdale, 18Tomiyasu, 4White, 6Gabriel, 3Tierney, 5Partey (Substituted for Martinelli at 81’minutes), 19Pépé, 10Smith Rowe, 8Ødegaard (Substituted for Lacazette at 67’minutes), 7Saka (Booked at 42mins, Substituted for Sambi Lokonga at 45’minutes), 14Aubameyang
Crystal Palace: 13Guaita, 2Ward, 16Andersen, 6Guéhi, 3Mitchell, 4Milivojevic (Substituted for Kouyaté at 67’minutes), 18McArthur (Booked at 43mins), 9J Ayew (Substituted for Olise at 71’minutes), 23Gallagher, 22Édouard (Substituted for Tomkins at 82’minutes), 20Benteke