Lacazette steals a late point on Viera’s return
By Jamie Patterson
Alexandre Lacazette grabbed a point for Arsenal in the 95th minute as they drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace on Patrick Viera’s return to the Emirates Stadium on Monday night.
It was a quick start from Mikel Arteta’s side as they took the lead through captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the eighth minute lead, but a superb second half comeback from Palace as Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard put the former Gunners captain Viera seconds away from victory.
As Palace thought they were seconds away from a famous win, substitute Lacazette struck home a loose ball from close range to rescue a point.
The draw for the Gunners stretch their unbeaten league run to five games which keeps Viera’s men from overtaking the North London side in the Premier League table.
It was the first time that Patrick Viera, the former Arsenal player who was part of the ‘Invincibles’ who went through the 2003/04 top-flight season unbeaten had returned to face his old side for the first time as a manager.
As he emerged from the tunnel, the Arsenal fans gave him a warm reception before kick-off, but that only lasted no more than eight minutes as Nicolas Pepe cut in and seen his curled shot palmed away by goalkeeper Vincente Guaita into the path of the Gabonese striker who was on hand to tap in from a tight angle.
The away side were very lucky not to go down to ten men as James McArthur received a yellow card for a careless kick into the back of Bukayo Saka with the injured 20-year-old substituted at half time.
The visitors was close to equalising not long before the break as the ball was headed out towards Conor Gallagher who’s volley was palmed away by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Arsenal had a few chances to take the lead early in the first half but couldn’t break down the Palace defence.
The visitors improved and was rewarded 5 minutes after the break as Thomas Partey was dispossessed by Jordan Ayew as the ball landed at the feet of Benteke who skipped past Gabriel Magalhaes as his low shot made the game even.
Arsenal had chances to equalise but failed to hit the target. Arteta brought on Lacazette in the 67th minute to add some sharpness to the attack.
With under 20 minutes of the game left, the South London side stole the ball off midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga in his own half substitute Michael Olise played the ball through to the former Celtic striker whose shot was blasted in off the crossbar to put Palace ahead.
Crystal Palace began to play defensive which allowed the home side to apply pressure as Kieran Tierney’s shot smacked the woodwork.
As the hosts were staring down the depths of defeat, a corner from Pepe was headed just for him to get another chance to deliver the ball back into the box as Benjamin White’s shot landed at the feet of Lacazette as his close strike snatched a dramatic late point.
What the managers said…
Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta was pleased with the early goal but was disappointed with how his side allowed Crystal Palace to get themselves back into the game.
‘‘We started the game very well, very dominant, very fluid. We deserved a goal and scored the goal, were in total control.’’ He went on to say, ‘‘We changed a couple of things at half-time, we were better and controlled again, but then we gave the ball away, something you cannot do in this league.’’
‘‘The substitutes were magnificent, and we created three big chances and scored the goal I think we deserved right at the end.’’
The Spaniard gave his thoughts on McArthur’s challenge on Saka, as he believed the Scotsmen should have been sent off.
‘‘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.’’
Crystal Palace manager Patrick Viera admired how well his side played but admits that his side will grow stronger from results like this. ‘‘They were brave and showed character and to concede a goal like that I am disappointed for my players. We conceded those goals on set pieces on the second phases and we need to work on that.’’
‘‘We were really unlucky today; it is the way it is, but I believe there is more to come from the team to challenge even better. These games will make us stronger.’’
Arsenal host Aston Villa on Friday night at 8pm while Crystal Palace host Newcastle in the Premier League on Saturday at 3pm.
Arsenal: Ramsdale (6), Tomiyasu (6), Gabriel (6), White (7), Tierney (6), Partey (5), Odegaard (5), Saka (5), Smith Rowe (5), Pepe (5), Aubameyang (7).
Subs: Lacazette (6), Lokonga (6), Martinelli (6).
Crystal Palace: Guaita (7), Ward (6), Andersen (6), Guehi (6), Mitchell (7), Gallagher (8), Milivojevic (5), McArthur (5), Ayew (7), Edouard (8), Benteke (8).
Subs: Tomkins (6), Olise (6), Kouyate (6).
Man of the Match: Conor Gallagher