Arsenal’s Ben White and Leandro Trossard pour salt in Tottenham wounds
Arsenal V Crystal Palace: Pictures
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What a weekend to be an Arsenal fan in north London! How uplifting to see Ben White dash back 30 yards to make a tackle and then waving his arms to whip up some support from the crowd when Arsenal were already winning 3-0 after barely an hour.
Or Leandro Trossard embarrassing both Crystal Palace centre-backs in chasing down what was merely an emergency clearance forward from the goalkeeper to end a rare spell of Palace pressure. Then there was Jakub Kiwior, making the most of his first taste of Premier League football to join the massed bodies that shut down a half-chance for Wilfried Zaha as injury time ticked down.
And even Aaron Ramsdale – scrutinised in midweek after being beaten from the centre-circle – going full length even later to maintain Arsenal’s superiority to the bitter end. There is nothing “selfish” or “unacceptable” about any of that.
It all comes from their manager Mikel Arteta, of course. There he was, early in the second half, dashing 20 yards from his technical area to wave frantically to pick up the unmarked Martin Olise from a throw-in near the half-way line.
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That relentless attention to detail that is keeping Arsenal on track for their first title in 19 years while their near-neighbours Tottenham implode. This is now the first time in Football League history that a side have won nine London derbies in a single season and this was a capital performance capped with world-class finishing.
The mesmerising ease with which Arsenal seemed to caress the ball into the back of the net would have bamboozled the best-prepared of defences. One reeling from the sacking of manager Patrick Vieira 48 hours earlier and robbed of Joachim Andersen in the warm-up simply did not stand a chance. The only “new manager bounce” Palace experienced under Paddy McCarthy came 10 minutes into the game when Zaha broke only to hit the base of the post and watch agonisingly as the rebound hit Ramsdale and trickled tamely past the post.
From then on it was pretty much all Arsenal. Teased to submission, it was Gabriel Martinelli who punched the first hole in the Palace rearguard when he found too much space on the left. Just before the break Bukayo Saka, teed up by the impressive White, nonchalantly added a second.
Trossard picked the lock on the Palace goal again with Granit Xhaka scoring his second goal in as many games. It should have ended the match, but a momentary loss of concentration allowed Olise to bundle the ball in from a corner.
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A team ready to buckle under the pressure of a title race may have wilted, especially when moments later Zaha slipped in and fired a shot across Ramsdale, which the relieved Arsenal goalkeeper watched the ball skim past his far post. Arsenal, though, merely went again and Kieran Tierney’s hard running enabled him to pick out Saka to provide another relaxed finish.
At the same time Arteta had been able to squeeze another half-hour into Gabriel Jesus, who looks ready to take up where he left off before his World Cup injury derailed his early-season club form. The final cherry on the top was the emergence of Emile Smith Rowe from the bench for his latest cameo to help usher in the end of a horrendous six-month spell on the sidelines following a series of injury problems of his own.
This is a new-look Arsenal made-to-measure by Arteta in a very classical style. And with the Emirates ringing out to the sound of the home fans paying tribute to the recently deposed Palace manager, it really is beginning to feel like those old Highbury days again.
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