Key Takeaways from Palace 0-1 Arsenal: Saka’s Struggles, Impact of Marquee Signing
In a game filled with challenges, Mikel Arteta’s squad clinched a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Palace. Although Bukayo Saka is known as one of Arsenal’s reliable penalty takers, recent difficulties prompted the decision to hand the responsibility to captain Martin Odegaard. Eddie Nketiah won the penalty, and it was confidently converted by Norwegian star Odegaard, breaking the deadlock.
The question arises: Will relieving Saka of penalty duties provide him with more comfort, or will it affect his usual confidence? At 21 years old, Saka’s self-assuredness might be at stake.
Tomiyasu Pays the Price
Premier League referees this season have shown less tolerance for dissent or time-wasting, and Takehiro Tomiyasu experienced this firsthand with a yellow card in the 60th minute. Just seven minutes later, another yellow card followed, resulting in his dismissal after a foul on Ayew.
This marked Arsenal’s first Premier League red card since the end of the 2021-22 season when Rob Holding was sent off in the North London Derby. With Tomiyasu suspended, Arsenal’s viable option at left-back was Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Marquee Signing’s Value
Mikel Arteta positioned Declan Rice in the role previously occupied by Granit Xhaka, and the West Ham recruit didn’t disappoint the Gunners’ manager.
Rice showcased his excellent ball retention skills and adeptly dropped back to provide defensive cover, minimizing the risk of counterattacks.
Statistics from Whoscored indicate Rice’s 90% passing accuracy, 68 ball touches, and 1 key pass. He also successfully intercepted twice and made 1 crucial clearance.
After an initial adaptation period, the English midfielder is gradually integrating into his new environment.
Fans were curious about Mikel Arteta’s defensive choices, especially with Jurrien Timber injured and Gabriel Magalhaes left out of the starting lineup.
Arteta opted for a single substitution, introducing Tomiyasu to replace Timber and retaining Gabriel as a substitute.
The Spanish manager had his own strategy. The absence of the Brazilian defender didn’t heavily impact the defensive situation, as the duo of William Saliba and Ben White demonstrated synergy.
However, having a quality backup like Gabriel proved crucial for Arsenal to overcome challenges, particularly during the roughly 30 minutes they played with ten men.
Two Contrasting Facets
Eddie Nketiah fulfilled his role as a number 9 by cleverly infiltrating the penalty area, causing problems for Palace’s defense. He set the stage for Odegaard’s penalty goal.
Conversely, Arsenal’s number 14 struggled to capitalize on opportunities. In the recent match, Nketiah had a chance to get on the scoresheet after receiving a pass from Rice, but from close range, he hit the crossbar instead.
Overall, the victory showcased Arsenal’s ability to overcome adversity and seize crucial moments, even amidst contrasting individual performances.