Over-confidence, arrogance, hubris (call it what you like) but Unai Emery was guilty of it against Palace and, consequently, threw away the chance to cement a Champions League spot for next season.
It’s not often I agree with the majority of fans, but the pre-match team news was startling: in midfield, Elneny and Guendouzi, the tried and tested worse partnership Arsenal have fielded this season. Surely the Everton lessons had not been forgotten. However, the selection (unless completely forced by injury) suggested otherwise. Individually, I think Guendouzi is a precocious talent that the Gunners have done well to sign, but he doesn’t dovetail well with Elneny, who seems to have lost whatever he may have had when he first signed.
Meanwhile, at right back, it was Corporal Jones. In ‘Dad’s Army’, this character was well known for saying ‘don’t panic’, but Gooners all around the world were wondering why his name was on the team sheet. If the midfield had Torreira or Xhaka from the start, perhaps the Jenkinson experiment would have worked, as they offer more protection than Elneny (who offers little defensively or offensively these days). As it was, the hard-working Jenkinson was subbed for Sublime-Ridiculous, who looked classy on the ball, at times, but delivered little. If only Arsenal had another Bellerin on their books. Perhaps even the hearts of the Spaniards detractors have grown Fonda than Jane or Henry of Hector in his absence.
Of course, most of the really harsh post-match comments were reserved for Mustafi. For once, I actually agreed with a lot that was said. The German’s defending was dreadful. He was certainly to almost entirely to blame for at least one of the goals, so he has effectively cost Arsenal a crucial point in the race for Champions League places. For the first time, I’m actually coming around to the idea that he should be sold, so gobsmackingly shocking was his defending.
Upfront, Aubameyang scored a slightly fortuitous wonder goal, but the damage was already done by then. He received so little service from midfield, but that’s what happens if you field a weakened side.
Likewise, you would understand if Lacazette complained about the service, which was virtually nonexistent.
Ozil, despite scoring an equalizer, was largely anonymous. If his name means zero-zeal then you can understand why putting in a shift comes hard to him. However, I have seen him play worse and with even less passion, so I wouldn’t single him out for criticism.
In fact, although Emery has done a sterling job so far at the Bank of England club, he may well rue the missed opportunity presented by the visit of Crystal Palace.
Now Arsenal will have to try to qualify for the Champions League the hard way, by bringing back points from visits to Wolves and Leicester. Few would bank on them doing that, after the ‘shed’ show that was Arsenal’s performance against Palace.