Gabriel Magalhaes and Gabriel Martinelli were the driving forces at the start and conclusion of Arsenal’s 5-0 Premier League victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday, erasing memories of a forgettable Christmas season.
Arsenal’s four-game losing streak saw them drop to fourth place in the standings and lose the FA Cup to Liverpool, but this victory will boost their confidence as they look to revive their championship bid.
In actuality, Palace provided minimal opposition, particularly from set pieces, when Gabriel wreaked mayhem twice in the first half.
The first goal was obviously Gabriel’s, but his second header was ruled an own goal by Dean Henderson when it deflected off the goalkeeper’s head while he was down on the field, despite his shouts for a foul.
After the halftime, Leandro Trossard scored his first goal since November, securing the three points and increasing pressure on Palace manager Roy Hodgson. Substitute Gabriel Martinelli finished things off in extra time with two virtually identical goals.
The win takes Arsenal into third place, level on points with Manchester City and Aston Villa, and two points behind champions Liverpool, while Palace remains 14th, five points above the relegation zone.
It was a tale of three corners that may come back to haunt Hodgson, and that was before things got considerably worse in second-half injury time.
First, the positives for Arsenal.
Their ninth and tenth Premier League corners goals this season – a league best – highlighted their threat in this area and earned plaudits for set-piece coach Nicolas Jover, who frequently stood in front of Mikel Arteta in the technical area.
“He was recruited from Man City and he’s doing his job. What they were doing in Dubai – it’s working,” said Rio Ferdinand at half-time.
And any fear this strength exposes Arsenal’s weakness from open play was dispelled when they broke with a devastating counter-attack from a Palace corner.
Intriguingly, former Chelsea and Brighton manager Graham Potter was captured by the TNT Sports cameras watching on at the Emirates. Could a change be in the offing at Palace? They’ve won just one of their last 12 matches in all competitions.
And very notably, Palace fans made their feelings clear about the current setup when raising banners in the 90th minute.
“Wasted potential on and off the pitch. Weak decisions taking us backwards,” it read, with Hodgson then staring at the banner after full-time while rooted to the spot in his own technical area.