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Toothless Arsenal fail to find spark as winning run comes to shuddering halt

At least Arsenal did their best to avoid hugging.

In fact, there was never any chance of a goal celebration for the Gunners socially distanced or otherwise at the Emirates.

It was not back to the bad old days before their post-Christmas mini revival but their winning run came to a shuddering halt.

The only relief for Mikel Arteta was that it did not end in defeat as it was Crystal Palace who had the better chances and went closest to taking all three points.

James Tomkins hit the crossbar and Christian Benteke forced a super save from Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno which was as close as anyone came to breaking the deadlock.

Toothless Arsenal couldn’t break down stubborn Palace

Arsenal just could not find any sort of rhythm, their lack of intensity was alarming and highlighted just how much they have come to rely on Kieran Tierney.

With no fans or atmosphere to lift the players or performances, every team needs a talisman, a leader or a player to set the tone.

Arsenal’s go-to man is Tierney and without him they just lack someone to gee them up, to push them and to raise the level.

The painful truth was that Arsenal never got out of second gear and were punished for starting slowly… and then never really looking like they were going to score.

Palace, meanwhile, were decent on the counter attack and their knack of upsetting the big boys struck again if we can still consider Arsenal among the elite.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners have been starved of title glory for a while now – but things could be changing as a new-look Arsenal side plot a course to success.

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New signings Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey have hit the ground running following their big money summer arrivals, and the new-look Gunners are going all out for a top four spot and Europa League glory this term.

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After all, Arsenal are still stuck in the lower half of the table, the three game winning run in the Premier League plus the FA Cup win over Newcastle quickly forgotten.

They just seem unable to pick up momentum and Palace, under Roy Hodgson, are so often a tough nut to crack and incredibly well organised.

Wilfried Zaha was a threat on the counter attack, Tomkins impressive at the back and Eberechi Eze excellent on the wing as he perhaps made amends to Palace.

Eze, of course, was lucky to be playing after apparently breaking Covid regulations by going to his former club QPR’s FA Cup tie last weekend without FA permission.

But it was Eze who set up the first big chance for Palace as his 39th minute free kick found Tomkins whose header crashed against the bar.

Soon afterwards, Palace went even closer as Tyrick Mitchell broke down the left, put over a cross which found Benteke in the middle and his header forced a brilliant save by Leno.

Arsenal’s recent revival has come from their kids but Bukayo Saka cannot save them every time and even Emile Smith Rowe could not find a way through this time.

Smith Rowe, 20, is reminiscent of a young Paul Merson with his blond hair, socks rolled down and his forward runs with the ball glued to his foot like a magnet. His dribbles just came up against Palace’s strong back line.

Arsenal stepped it up after half time but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – who did at least force a save from Palace keeper Vicente Guaita in the first half – looks miles off his best form.

Aubameyang scored against Newcastle last weekend in the FA Cup but it is just one Premier League goal since November and, if they are to find any sort of form, then they need him to get going again.

The second half just faded away, Palace dangerous on the counter, Arsenal lacking creativity and it played out to a frustrating end for both teams.




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