Eight Observations from a pulsating win:
- The new boys all did very well and totally seem to get how Mikel wants to play football. Jesus was a menace in attack, Zinchenko was full of good positioning and passing and Saliba was solid. They had to work their socks of and, as Kev pointed out so well in the last post’s comments, the MC boys looked totally done in as a result of securing the game only late on instead of in the first half as Pep’s team regularly do.
- It was a cup win for us, as least that’s how it felt. We started spritely and overwhelmed the Eagles with our creativity and tempo. We could have had a couple of goals but only managed one, which kept Palace in the game. We allowed them back in through sloppiness in our defence, giving away the ball unnecessarily and allowing the crowd to finally find their voice. Especially Ramsdale had a few iffy moments and also Partey lacked the calm and precision in his passing to keep us in control.
- The second half saw us sit back, perhaps too much. Palace were strong on the wings where we allowed them space, time and again. Zaha was excellent and we just about managed to keep him out. White, on a yellow card, just about managed to control the area, but it was Saliba who truly shone with his composure and timely interventions. Grand William was without much dispute our man of the match.
- Zinchenko pushed up a lot which made our left side pretty secure for Palace’s wing play in the first hals. But it also led to Xhaka getting crowded out as he had less space to move in. In the second half Arsenal sat deeper and that suited Granit better but not so much Zinchenko who now had to defend as a ‘classic’ left full back. This will need to be worked on for our next games.
- Martinelli scored the all important goal, and even though he missed a sitter before that, this really is very important for him and the team. It was a corner from the training ground and it was cleverly executed. Martinelli looked a bit more mature and he was a constant threat, one of his best performances.
- Bukayo struggled to get into the game early on, partly due to being carefully covered by Palace. Yet he had the preassist for the first goal and forced the mistske/own goal for the second. He was much better in the second half with some good defensive interventions and releasing of pressure by being a menace up front. The partnership with White is still a work in progress. I think we missed Tomiyasu quite a bit yesterday.
- The joy of Gab Jesus continues. He plays the Laca role really well but offers extra energy and alacrity. It’s like Laca on steroids, such enthusiasm and bite. GJ9, Mr Alacrity, will set the tone for the rest this season. What a signing!!!
- The main things to take from this game are our fighting spirit, the clean sheet and boost that three points from Selhurst Park will bring us. We need to analyse why we sat so/too deep in the second half and thus allowed so much pressure on us. Palace are of course a well drilled and physical team and Vieira was clever in not allowing our creative players much space or time. They were well positioned and made our flowing footie hard to execute. But still, we have the players to overcome this and should not have sat so deep, inviting all that pressure. We clearly feared their ball over the top and Palace’s wing play and were left with grinding out a result. The boys did this, and I am proud of them, but a better midfield domination and balance is our main priority for the next games.