LONDON: Arsenal returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion with a 5-0 drubbing of toothless London rivals Crystal Palace to climb one place to third in the Premier League on Saturday (Jan 20).
Gabriel’s headed goal from a corner and a Dean Henderson own goal – also largely the work of Gabriel – put Mikel Arteta’s side in control in the first half, and with Palace looking lacklustre, Leandro Trossard increased the lead just short of the hour as he finished off a sweeping move.
Substitute Gabriel Martinelli confirmed Arsenal’s superiority and added some gloss to the scoreline with two almost identical finishes in stoppage time.
Palace, who are 14th, had a few chances of their own and almost equalised when Jefferson Lerma’s swerving shot was well-saved by David Raya shortly before Arsenal made it 2-0.
Such was Arsenal’s comfort that Arteta was able to make four substitutions late on with Declan Rice, Kai Havertz, Trossard and Gabriel all being given a breather.
Arsenal’s victory ended a run of three successive defeats in all competitions and put them level on 43 points with Aston Villa and champions Manchester City. Arsenal’s goal difference is superior to Villa’s but worse than City’s.
The past few weeks have been dispiriting for Arsenal who topped the Premier League before Christmas but whose title challenge stalled with a run of one win in five league games.
But Palace’s problems appear even greater with a banner being unfurled near the end that read: “Wasted Potential. On and off the pitch weak decisions are taking us backwards.”
They have won only once in 10 league games and went out of the FA Cup at Everton in midweek when manager Roy Hodgson came under fire from the visiting fans.
Arsenal spent their mini winter break enjoying some warm weather training in Dubai and it appeared to have revived them.
They took the lead in the 11th minute when Rice’s corner was met by Gabriel who headed in from close range.
Another corner led to Arsenal’s second in the 37th minute as Gabriel again got clear and his header went in off Palace keeper Dean Henderson.
Trossard effectively killed Palace off when he applied a clinical finish from Gabriel Jesus’s pass in the 59th minute.
With Palace in disarray, Martinelli then got in on the act with two silky finishes to give Arsenal’s goal difference a healthy boost and equal their best margin of victory in a Premier League derby.