It was bad enough for Arsenal to suffer a damaging and heavy defeat to a side currently fighting for survival in the Premier League, but it must have been worrying for supporters that Crystal Palace manager Sam Allardyce spelled out their deficiencies and successfully targeted them to mastermind the Eagles’ win on Monday night.
“Tactically, the players were aware of how to beat Arsenal. The first thing was to defend and frustrate them, keep them playing sideways, then use the space behind the full-backs. Arsenal have been weak defensively, they leave the centre-backs exposed. We won a lot of possession off them and created lots of chances. (Our opening goal) was down to us pressing them,” said Allardyce.
Crystal Palace hit Arsenal on the counter attack time and again in the game, capitalising on their pace in the wide areas to get the ball in behind the space vacated by Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin – both of whom endured difficult evenings. And isolating the less-than-convincing centre-backs with a target man like Christian Benteke led to Palace winning aerial duels on a regular basis.
Arsenal failed to register a shot on target in the second-half of Monday’s defeat, evidence of Palace’s gameplan working perfectly on the night. The gunners had no answer and now they’re in a precarious position in the Premier League table. Arsenal are 1/10 to finish outside of the top-four.
For Allardyce to clearly highlight Arsenal’s shortcomings is a real worry. But will Wenger rectify the sides’ woes in defence?