Arsenal made keeping the ball with 10-men in final minutes vs Palace look so easy

Martin Odegaard’s expertly taken penalty early in the second half proved crucial. The Gunners secured a full three points at Selhurst Park, marking their second consecutive victory for last season’s title contenders.

It’s never an easy task playing Crystal Palace away from home, especially with 10 men for 30 minutes of the second half, however, Arsenal’s ability to keep the ball late on in the match while under tremendous amounts of pressure was second to none.

Crystal Palace 0-1 Arsenal

The first half saw Arsenal dominate possession and were the better team over the 45, however, they couldn’t find that killer instinct in front of goal. Eddie Nketiah came close on two instances, hitting the post and to the fans despair, lobbing the ball over the crossbar with just the ‘keeper to beat.

The hosts had a penalty shout deep into added time of the first interval, as Eberechi Eze went down to a foul from England international Ben White on a neat counterattack. The Guardian quoted Roy Hodgson’s views on the matter, as he said: “We paid the price for the quick free-kick, the player who was going to defend that space was blocked off, but the referee and VAR thought differently.” Meanwhile, it was a decision in Arsenal’s favour that would decide the match.

Soon after the restart, a quick free-kick from Brazilian winger Gabriel Martinelli set Nketiah free down the channel, only for him to get to the ball just ahead of Sam Johnstone, who incidentally brought the number 14 to the ground inside the penalty area. Odegaard delivered on his captain’s duties and slotted the ball away, giving Arsenal a slim lead that soon turned slender.

As per Transfermarkt, in what was his first start back in the Premier League after undergoing knee surgery in March, it came to an end midway through the second period for Takehiro Tomiyasu, as he was sent off for a cheap foul on Jordan Ayew, resulting in his second yellow of the half.

The first yellow came from the Japanese full-back wasting time with the ball in his hands waiting to take a throw-in. Some would say it was a controversial decision, as the booking came at a shock to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta; he described the difficulty for officials to maintain consistency over time-wasting.

As per the Guardian: “That is something referees will have to do, it is going to be difficult for us, we will have to play with ten or maybe nine or eight, depending on where we put the standard, we can maybe play eight against eight, it will be very entertaining.”

Mikel Arteta’s changes worked brilliantly

Nevertheless, it was clear the attacking threat from The Eagles was going to intensify in the latter stages, but it was the tactical genius from Arteta that seemed to work. Immediately after the sending off, defender Gabriel Magalhaes was introduced onto the field of play in replace of Martinelli, followed by Jorginho coming on soon after for Nketiah. This helped solidify the Arsenal defence as Roy Hodgson’s side continued to press high up the pitch.

A goal looked promising for the home side, especially with seven minutes of added time allocated, but Jakub Kiwior and Oleksandr Zinchenko coming on for two attacking players in Bukayo Saka and Odegaard saw Arsenal rule possession. Jorginho, who is predominantly a holding midfielder, is so calm on the ball. As per Punditfeed, Paul Merson said: “I think he is outstanding. You are buying experience as well, he’s won big trophies, and he is a proper holding midfielder.”

According to FotMob, the Italian made 11/11 accurate passes in the time he was on, proving his ability on the ball, with the scenario reinforcing his experience that Merson stated he had before his arrival from London rivals Chelsea.

The leadership of former Manchester City title winner Oleksandr Zinchenko made an impact for the final minutes as well, with 23-year-old Jacob Kiwior also coming on to relax the game.

By the final whistle, the most attacking threat Arsenal had left on the field was Kai Havertz, who started the game in central midfield. Thomas Partey came into midfield as Arsenal went to a five at the back with Zinchenko, Kiwior, William Saliba, Gabriel, and White.

Ball retention masterclass with a man down
by u/Great-Image in Gunners

It was visible to see the former Atletico Madrid man setting the tempo of the game, with his confident playing style. As per FotMob, he achieved an 86% pass completion rate for the full 90 minutes plus added time, and achieved an 8.1 match rating, the highest on the field, portraying how much he was missed through injury for glimpses of last season.

As a disciple of Pep Guardiola, Arteta handled the game superbly with his strategies, and achieved what could be a valuable three points come spring of 2024. As the Guardian states, the Spaniard spoke after the match.

“I love to win like this, the way we played in the first half against a team that is so difficult, we dominated but conceded nothing, even with ten men we didn’t concede. I am so happy the team responded in a positive way to win the game, it shows how much we want it.”

New record signing Declan Rice also gave his thoughts, saying: “When you look at the clock with 20 minutes to go, and you’re down to 10 men against this young, athletics Palace side, you know it’s going to be tough. These are the places you want to come if you want to win the Premier League, if you want to be up there at the end of the season, you’ve got to show character and pluck out three points I thought we deserved in the end.”

Since Rice signed in the summer for £105 million, he is already looking like a fantastic addition to that Arsenal midfield, as per FotMob, he made over double the passes in comparison to his other midfield partners, implying how much the ball goes through Rice and how utilised he is in this revolutioned Arsenal system.

The victory puts the Gunners level on points with Brighton and Man City in third position, while Palace sit just outside of the top half in 11th.