Arsenal against. Crystal Palace, 1-0

Arsenal Martin Odegaard’s penalty helped Arsenal us defeat Crystal Palace and win back-to-back games to start the season even though we only had 10 men left on the field.

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Arsenal Sam Johnstone fouled Eddie Nketiah in the area on minute 53, and the captain stepped up to score the penalty. Moments thereafter, Takehiro Tomiyasu was sent out for receiving two yellow cards, marking our first Premier League dismissal since May 2022.

However, Mikel Arteta’s team managed to hold on to the points after that owing to a strong rearguard performance, starting the season with six points from six.

First half frustration

The teams were welcomed with fireworks, flames, loud music, and cheerleaders, but the early events failed to reach that level of excitement Arsenal. The home team had the better chances to score; Eberechi Eze forced Aaron Ramsdale to make an easy save after 15 minutes, and then Cheick Doucoure fired a 30-yard shot into the stands behind our goalie.

We developed into the half gradually, and after shifting through the gears, on the 28th minute Kai Havertz won possession and threaded the ball between Eagles center backs Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen for Eddie Nketiah to run onto Arsenal. He resisted both of their challenges before slipping a shot past Sam Johnstone, but it missed and hit the base of the post.

The tide was turning, and Nketiah soon had another opportunity when Odegaard and Declan Rice combined to put the striker one-on-one with Johnstone . However, Nketiah’s dinked attempt flew over the bar, and four minutes before the opening 45, the captain tried his luck from range with a dipping shot that Johnstone had to tip over. Next, Gabriel Martinelli mishit a volley of a Thomas Partey cross.

Big decisions

We kept that momentum going into the second half, and we were able to make the coveted breakthrough within eight minutes. The Eagles relaxed when we earned a free kick, which allowed Martinelli to steal Nketiah in on goal before Johnstone was able to bring him down Arsenal. Odegaard was given the opportunity to go up and Arsenal miss the home goalkeeper from 12 yards after a VAR review.

Chances to potentially end the game were missed by and Partey, and Havertz subsequently missed the post with a shot. However, the game took a turn for the worst on minute 67.Arsenal Jordan Ayew spun away from Tomiyasu, who had already received a booking for delaying a throw-in Arsenal, and was given a second yellow, but replays showed the contact was minimal.

Getting over the line

From that point on, as Palace probed to try to take advantage of their man advantage, it was about digging in and trying to hold onto our one-goal lead. As Mikel Arteta tried his best to get us through the fourth quarter, Gabriel and Jorginho were thrown on to calm the ship.

It worked, and even though Palace spent the majority of the remaining play in our half, we were able to keep them from creating much of a threat. However, their big chance was lost when Odsonne Edouard blasted a header from a wonderful Tyrick Mitchell cross way wide.

After a scramble in the box and seven minutes of stoppage time, we successfully denied Roy Hodgson’s team of any further opportunities when Mitchell blasted a half-volley over. Our players erupted in jubilant celebrations at the final whistle, proud that they had overcome hardship to secure consecutive victories.

Facts and stats

We kept a clean sheet on the road in the Premier League for the 200th time tonight, passing Chelsea (204) and Manchester United (205). We have maintained a clean sheet in 28 of our 68 away games under Mikel Arteta (41%); the only time they have a better Premier League record is under Bruce Rioch (8/19 – 42% – minimum five games).

For the first time since a run of three victories between October 2013 and August 2015, we have now defeated Palace twice in a row on the road in the league, and we have won 13 straight London derbies overall (W11 D2).

Since taking and converting a penalty for Vitesse against De Graafschap in the Eredivise in May 2019, Martin Odegaard has not done so in a league game. In fact, since the start of the previous campaign, he is only the third player, behind Erling Haaland (16 goals) and Harry Kane (16 goals), to score at least 10 Premier League goals away from home.

Roy Hodgson suffered his first league loss at Selhurst Park since taking over in April (P5 W3 D2 prior to today), and in the 11 Premier League seasons since 2013–14 (W1 D2 L8), only one home league victory has occurred.

This evening, Bukayo Saka made his 82nd straight appearance for us in the Premier League, tying the mark established by Paul Merson between February 1995 and February 1997.

What’s next

On Saturday, Fulham travels to Emirates Stadium for a customary 3pm kickoff in another capital match. Eight days later, on Sunday, September 3, Manchester United visits the city.

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