Arsenal vs Crystal Palace
The midweek Premier League action drew to a close a short time ago.
Said tie would see Arsenal play host to Crystal Palace as they looked to continue their solid run of form.
The Gunners had something of a nightmare start to 2020/21, which saw them slip as low as 15th in the Premier League.
However, Mikel Arteta and co. had since won three league ties in a row, moving them up to 1tth spot, just three points adrift of 8th.
As for Crystal Palace, they have had their usually up and down season so far and are currently sitting 13th in the table after winning just one in five.
In the end, though, both sides were forced to settle for a share of the points on Thursday.
Arsenal lack cutting edge
Arsenal would dominate the early proceedings, with a tame effort from Emile Smith Rowe three minutes in the first chance of the tie.
In truth, though, very little happened in the first 10 minutes. Crystal Palace were unsurprisingly more than willing to sit with plenty of men behind the ball and invite Arsenal to break them down whilst looking to hit the Gunners on the counter.
Palace’s first decent chance of the day came 14 minutes in, when Eberechi Eze fired a free-kick from a promising position over.
The Eagles would slowly grow into the game as the first half wore on, though, with Wilfried Zaha and Eze looking the most likely to cause the north Londoners any issue.
Christian Benteke would then fire a decent chance over the bar just before the half-hour mark.
This was followed by Hector Bellerin intercepting Smith Rowe’s pass which looked set to fall straight to the feet of Alexandre Lacazette.
James Tomkins then came closest to scoring out of anyone in the first 45, but the stopper directed his header from an Eze free-kick onto Bernd Leno’s bar.
OFF THE BAR 👀
James Tomkins is inches away from heading Palace ahead at the Emirates
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 14, 2021
Leno then produced a fine save to keep out a Benteke header.
But the first 45 would eventually come to a close with the scores level and Roy Hodgson probably the happier of the two bosses.
Kieran Tierney’s importance
Arsenal would start the second half in much brighter fashion than they ended the first.
The Gunners produced a well-worked chance 54 minutes in, which Lacazette eventually smashed off the post, but it was pulled back for offside anyway.
But with 65 minutes gone, Arsenal still hadn’t created an awful lot, with Arteta opting to sub off the rather disappointing Ansley -Maitland-Niles for Nicolas Pepe and moving Saka to left-back.
Following AMN’s display at the Emirates, it was quite apparent just how integral Kieran Tierney is to Arsenal going forward this campaign.
Tierney has been, even during their early-season struggles, a real bright spark for Arsenal throughout 2020/21.
And a case could even be made that the Scotsman has been integral to Arsenal’s ability to carve out any real chances this season.
Obviously, Smith Rowe has come in during recent weeks and helped to shoulder some of the burden when it comes to creating chances.
But with Tierney out vs Palace, it was clear just how much Arsenal missed their main left-back.
Ansley Maitland-Niels, whilst a decent player, simply isn’t suited to playing as a left-back in a back-four.
He is right-footed anyway, with his left foot not exactly the strongest. And unlike Tierney, the Englishman is unable to offer too much down the left-flank, unless he cuts inside on his right.
He also gave the ball away on countless occasions vs Hodgson’s side and it was clear he didn’t have the same link-up with Granit Xhaka as Tierney does, with both the Swiss midfielder and Dani Ceballos struggling to get on the same wavelength as AMN throughout the night.
But, not that this really needs to be said, Arsenal shouldn’t be so reliant on a left-back for creativity.
Smith Rowe is still only young and relying on him to be their new ‘no.10’ was not going to be sustainable week in week out. And as the Palace game showed, if Arsenal don’t bring another creative midfielder in soon, they could be in for a very long second half of the season.
Maitland-Niles’ withdrawal was quickly followed by Thomas Partey coming on in place of Ceballos.
Eddie Nketiah was then brought on for the final 10 minutes in place of Lacazette.
But like the rest of Arsenal’s attackers tonight, Nketiah offered very little.
The final whistle eventually blew with the points shared and Arsenal fans no doubt left with a very familiar feeling after another underwhelming display from pretty much all of their attack-minded players.
Arsenal vs Crystal PalaceThe midweek Premier League action drew to a close a short time ago.Said tie would see Arsenal play host to Crystal Palace as they looked to continue their solid run of form.The Gunners had something of a nightmare start to 2020/21, which saw them slip as low as 15th in the PremierFootball (soccer) greatest goals and highlights | 101 Great Goals – Feed