Arsenal’s three-match Premier League winning run came to an end after being held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace at the Emirates.
Both sides had chances to win the match, however, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was denied by Vicente Guaita, before James Tomkins’ header hit the bar just before half-time.
As a result, Arsenal and Palace remain in 11th and 13th places respectively in the table.
Arsenal: Leno (8), Bellerin (7), Holding (7), Luiz (6), Maitland-Niles (5), Ceballos (6), Xhaka (6), Saka (6), Smith-Rowe (6), Aubameyang (7), Lacazette (5)
Subs: Partey (6), Pepe (5), Nketiah (6)
Crystal Palace: Guaita (7), Ward (6), Tomkins (7), Kouyate (6), Mitchell (7), Townsend (6), McArthur (6), Milivojevic (6), Eze (9), Benteke (7), Zaha (7)
Subs: Ayew (6), McCarthy (6)
Man of the match: Ebere Eze
How Palace frustrated Arsenal
Mikel Arteta’s team began the contest confidently after an impressive recent run of three straight league wins had seen their previously faltering campaign revived, and it showed in the opening exchanges.
The hosts could have taken the lead on 20 minutes when Aubameyang, once again stationed on the left of a front three, cut back inside and tested Guaita with a rasping drive from the edge of the box which the goalkeeper did well to beat clear to safety.
However, it was the visitors who began to gradually take control of proceedings, twice going close to opening the scoring only for the woodwork and then Bernd Leno to come to Arsenal’s rescue.
On the first occasion, six minutes before half-time, Tomkins rose highest to glance Ebere Eze’s free-kick goalwards, only for the centre-back’s header to beat Leno, but not the bar.
Minutes later, Palace were equally unfortunate not to make the breakthrough after a lovely passing move involving the outstanding Eze, Wilfried Zaha and Tyrick Mitchell, overlapping down the left.
This time, though, Leno was there to claw away Benteke’s goalbound header, before the German got up to make another important stop at his post to deny Zaha from the rebound.
Arsenal made two changes from their last Premier League outing – a 4-0 win against West Brom. Pablo Mari and Kieran Tierney dropped out, replaced by David Luiz and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Thomas Partey and Gabriel also returned to the bench after their respective absences.
Crystal Palace made one change from their 2-0 win against Sheffield United in the Premier League, with Jeffrey Schlupp replaced by Eberechi Eze.
Those were the best openings of the match, with the second half petering out to a tame draw as Palace tried to catch their opponents on the break, while Arsenal generally huffed and puffed, without ever threatening to breach the visitors’ back line.
All of which means Palace’s long wait for a league win away continues – Roy Hodgson’s men last won on their travels in June – while Arsenal were involved of their first top-flight goalless draw in 80 matches.
Shutout run continues for both teams – Opta stats
- Crystal Palace have kept consecutive Premier League clean sheets for the first time since a run of four in a row between February and June last year.
- Arsenal have kept four consecutive clean sheets in all competitions for the first time since October 2016.
- Arsenal have failed to score in seven Premier League matches this season, as many as in the entirety of last season, last failing to score in more games in a season in 2015/16 (8).
- Arsenal extended their winless top-flight league run against Crystal Palace to five matches, drawing four of those (L1).
- Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke had more shots than any other player tonight (6) – the last five players to have 6+ shots in a Premier League game at the Emirates have all been visiting players: John McGinn (Sept 2019), Raúl Jiménez (Nov 2019), Sadio Mané (July 2020), Danny Welbeck (July 2020) and Benteke tonight.
- Crystal Palace have kept more Premier League clean sheets in two matches in 2021 (2) than they managed in their final 24 matches in 2020 (1).
0 – Arsenal have kept their first home clean sheet in the @premierleague since July (12 games), whilst Crystal Palace have recorded their first on the road since June (13 games), with this the first goalless draw in the top-flight between the sides since Oct 1997. Predicted. pic.twitter.com/fUpcPK4kgJ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 14, 2021
What the managers said…
Mikel Arteta: “Some freshness and some quality in the final third [is what we were missing]. There were situations where we lacked the last pass or the timing, or the last shot. Probably we had to generate more to be able to win that game.
“I would like to see a win today and score a few goals, and it didn’t happen. There were moments as well that fatigue played a big moment, when we started to give very difficult balls away.
“I cannot fault the spirit, the fight that they put in. They tried to the last minute but it wasn’t enough today.”
Roy Hodgson: “I’m more than satisfied with everything. I thought our defending was good throughout, we had a particularly good spell in the first half when we created some very good opportunities. In the second half, we perhaps wasted one or two opportunities with the final pass after getting ourselves into a position where we could have produced a pass which could have hurt them.
“But throughout, it was an excellent defensive performance and a fantastic piece of discipline and hard work of the players. I’m very proud of how they’ve gone about their work today.
“It’s very good (to keep clean sheets). I think we’re getting back to where we want to be and it’s nice to go into the next stage of the season with at least 23 points. We haven’t given up the chance yet of getting points at Man City as well, but it’s nice to know there’s healthy gap between us and the teams really fighting at the bottom. If we keep playing the way we played today, I think there are points in the bag for us going forward.
“When you look at the games on paper, which is a foolish thing to do, you are facing two potential defeats in a row against two top teams, so it’s very good we’ve avoided that at least and it will give us some confidence going to Man City that if we can keep Arsenal at bay, we might be able to keep them at bay as well.”
Man of the Match – Ebere Eze
Once again, Palace’s £17m summer signing from Queens Park Rangers caught the eye with yet another impressive display for his new team.
Not only did the player create his side’s best opening of the night when his delicious inviting free-kick was headed on to the bar by Tomkins just before the interval, but the 22-year-old’s all-round energy, passing and vision stood out for someone so young and new to the Premier League.
All of which bodes well for the England U21 international’s future…
What the pundits said…
Alex Scott: “I can sit here and be totally frustrated with the performance, but I think it’s a reality check of where this Arsenal team are. The fact we’re talking about relying on the youngster, so how critical can I be when that’s wheat Arsenal are dependant on at the moment?
“Even though you’re having to change those youngsters, like Bukayo Saka from his position that he’s been playing well, you’re bringing on experienced players who aren’t giving you anything. I think it’s where we need to remind ourselves that this season, it’s about Arsenal trying to climb the table and still rebuild.
“Without Kieran Tierney, we can see what he brings to this team, his runs going forward, his confidence when he’s on the ball and make others play around him, making opportunities for others and that was totally missed.”
Jamie Redknapp: “It was really flat from Arsenal. You can talk tactically, but you need more from your big players. You need Aubameyang to get on the ball more and make something happen, Lacazette wasn’t as sharp as he has been in recent weeks and the spark just wasn’t there.
“I don’t like to make excuses for players because they’re in a very privileged position to be playing football, but that’s the kind of game when you need the crowd. With a lot of games going on for these players, but without the crowd, it’s almost monotonous. It feels like a training game every time and this was one of those games that was desperate for a crowd to be there.
“The positive was Thomas Partey coming back, I think he’s going to be a real asset to the team if they can keep him fit. But it’s one of those days where you say ‘we weren’t at our best, take a point’ and certainly Crystal Palace had the best chances to win the game.”
Arsenal take on Newcastle United at the Emirates on Monday Night Football, with that game kicking off at 8pm live on Sky Sports Premier League.
Meanwhile, Palace face Man City at the Etihad on Sunday night (7.15pm) in a match that is also live on Sky Sports Premier League.