Arsenal's set-piece mastery breaks apart Crystal Palace

Arsenal thrashed Crystal Palace, with Gabriel Martinelli (right) scoring two late goals - Arsenal make easy work of Crystal Palace as away fans turn backs on Hodgson flops – latest reaction

Arsenal may not be fully free of their January doldrums but they do at least have one foot out the door – in no small measure a consequence of their goalscoring centre-half Gabriel Magalhaes and the team’s set-piece mastery.

No team has scored more goals from set-pieces than Arsenal this season, 19 in all, and while the second of Gabriel’s goals was eventually designated as a Dean Henderson own goal, the point was made. These were two Arsenal corners with a big centre-half probing the weak point of Palace’s five-man defence – the midfielder Chris Richards and a goalkeeper blocked off by judicious positioning.

Not quite what might be expected of an Arteta team known for its Pep Guardiola-tribute passing patterns, its various vertical ball-meisters and its transition-plunderers. Arteta would later outline his strategy for defeating the low block and it was in part causing what he said was “chaos” among the opposition. The nearest team for set-piece goals in the Premier League currently are Manchester City on 13 and if it is good enough for them it will be good enough for Arteta.

Three goals conceded from corners by Crystal Palace, the embattled Roy Hodgson will reflect, and only two of those corners were Arsenal corners. The third before the hour, a counterattack that took two passes to reach Leandro Trossard was a breakaway from a Palace attacking corner. From David Raya to Gabriel Jesus to the Belgian, it was a swift knife to the heart of Palace’s defence.

As Ivan Toney returned to action after the long autumn and winter of his gambling ban, this was a reminder at least that there are some goals in this Arsenal team. “Absolutely,” said Arteta when asked about the requirement on his team to adapt their attack to the kind of defensive situation they countered. “As well having the ability to score from many different ways. Especially when you are attacking low blocks.

“To score in this certain way, everything has to be nailed absolutely perfectly. Sometimes when you generate things that are a bit more chaotic it opens teams up and it’s more difficult to do that. Today we exploited that really well and Palace had to change their behaviour and allow spaces for us to exploit.”

By the time Gabriel Martinelli was played into the big spaces down the right side of Palace’s defence in the five minutes added on at the end, it was getting desperate for Roy Hodgson. He took on the responsibility for those damaging late goals because he felt that there was no alternative but to send on some more inexperienced players for their freshness. “It was too much for them to ask for them to go on and deal with a rampant Arsenal,” Hodgson said, “and as a result we lose the game heavily.”

There were Palace fan banners about “wasted potential” and “weak decisions”, although what better alternatives there might be at a club where the two previous ownerships led Palace into administration, there were none. Clearly something will have to change this month, whether that is the manager of perhaps a signing to give the team some added momentum. Hodgson, with his usual decency, did not deflect blame. He did indicate that his future is in the hands of Palace’s owners.

Just the second win in six Premier League games for Arteta since the team’s form started to falter with defeat to Aston Villa on Dec 9. His team were by no means always outstanding in attack but they did not need to be with the corner routines working so well. For the second Gabriel header on 37 minutes Hodgson hinted that there was a foul on Henderson by Ben White who blocked his progress. Yet even so, that seemed not to be everything that went wrong for Palace.

“The reality is that we trained [for] set-pieces less in the last week [compared to] other aspects of the game,” Arteta said. “This is the beauty of it. But we worked on a lot of things that actually happened [in the game] and we trained on them a lot. Really pleased with the clean sheet first, which is something that we’ve been lacking to win games with the amount of goals scored. And sharing the goals as well which I think is going to make a big impact on the team.”

The presence of Graham Potter in the stadium was noted. He was in one of the hospitality boxes with his children, and on television for the first half about as much as either of the managers in the stadium who were actually there to work. It has taken him a while to emerge from his post-Chelsea brooding but he is expected to be seen around football a lot more in the weeks to come.

It will be 10 days before Arsenal play again and Arteta was able to rest some of his key men towards the end of the game. That included Declan Rice, who looks like he could do with the break. Emile Smith Rowe made just his third Premier League appearance since the end of October. Another substitute Eddie Nketiah played in Martinelli for the first of his two goals. Yet another substitute, Jorginho, did the same for the second of the pair.

Both times Palace were wide open and you also had to wonder about Henderson’s efforts. Hodgson gazed wistfully over at the banner at the final whistle although he assured all concerned that this was not a lingering farewell. He was simply waiting for his players to come off. “Quite a detailed one” was his crisply understated take on the four lines-worth of criticism in the main Palace protest. He has seen all this before, and the thought occurs that if Palace were looking for a man to save their season, they would probably be looking for one just like Hodgson.

Arsenal vs Crystal Palace: As it happened . . .

02:58 PM GMT

Mikel Arteta spoke to BBC Match of the Day

“I had a really good feeling after we left the stadium after Liverpool, the performance was there but the results were not.

“Today we were much more efficient in the opponents’ box particularly than the last few games. Last few games we had moments playing better than today but this is about scoring goals. Set pieces are a big part of us, especially against teams that want to defend deeply. It is a good way to win games.

“The success of last season was the amount of players who scored more than 10 goals and we are going to have to do that again. We used moments of the game we knew could exploit really, really well. The subs did really well and had a big impact. Everyone was really focused.

“This is the second part of the season we want to tackle it with a lot of aggression and motivation. I would like to play three days after but it is what it is! We will keep preparing and we must continue to do better and improve as a team.”

02:47 PM GMT

Bukayo Saka speaks to TNT Sports

“I think it’s really important, to win today the three points, that early goal from big Gabi was really nice for us. I thought he was going to get a hat-trick at one point. Dubai was really nice for us... to have that break. Dubai was refreshing and worked on the things we needed to work on, sharpen our tools. We scored five and are happy with the points. The break came at the right time... we are all hungry to push strong to the end of the season. You saw that in the performance today.”

02:40 PM GMT

Rio Ferdinand on Arsenal's win

“You want to start the game in a good fashion, they done that... they controlled most of the game and then they get a set piece and score two goals.”

02:36 PM GMT

Two of Arsenal's goalscorers speak to TNT Sports

It’s the two Brazilian Gabriels. The other Brazilian Gabriel (Jesus) is not there. Shame.

Magalhaes: “I am so happy to score two goals today, I am happy for my team and happy for Martinelli to score. I think one more minute he’d score three goals. We work a lot on set pieces because we know the quality of the players we have. We’ll keep it going.”

Martinelli: “It was a brilliant performance from the team. I think we needed a game like that. I am here to help the team, even if it to place one, two or three minutes. I am happy to help the team. It was so important, we know our qualities and it doesn’t matter what people say outside... we believe in ourselves and that is what we showed today, we showed what we can do.”

02:31 PM GMT

Not sure the two goals Palace conceded after they put up this banner will have changed their minds much

Crystal Palace fans hold a banner in protest during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on January 20, 2024 in London, England
Crystal Palace fans hold a banner in protest during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on January 20, 2024 in London, England

02:28 PM GMT

FULL-TIME: Arsenal 5 Crystal Palace 0

Both sides came into this game in terrible form. With this hammering Arsenal will hope to have put that in the rear-view mirror but Crystal Palace’s woes continue and deepen.

02:26 PM GMT

GOAL! It's five!

I was wrong. There was more than one goal left. And it’s very similar to the one that happened a little over 90-seconds ago! This time it was Smith Rowe who puts Martinelli in and he advances into the box and thrashes this one past Henderson a little bit harder to the far post with his right boot. Nice.

Arsenal 5 Crystal Palace 0

02:24 PM GMT

GOAL! Arsenal 4 Palace 0

I said earlier I fancied one more for Arsenal and now we have it. Martinelli is put in on the left by Saka, he darts into the box as he has done on several occasions since coming on today and he side-foots it past Henderson’s left arm to rub salt into the wounds of Palace and their fans. Lovely finish, though not that powerful but he got his angles correct.

Arsenal 4 Crystal Palace 0

02:23 PM GMT

90+2 mins - Arsenal 3 Crystal Palace 0

Job done for Mikel Arteta today. Is there anything left in this game or will it peter out?

02:20 PM GMT

89 mins - Arsenal 3 Crystal Palace 0

Eze has been the one glimmer of light for Palace today. Meanwhile, the Palace fans unfurl a banner that reads: “Wasted potential on and off the pitch, weak decisions taking us backwards.” 

Crystal Palace fans display banners in the stands during the match
Crystal Palace fans display banners in the stands during the match

02:16 PM GMT

85 mins - Arsenal 3 Crystal Palace 0

Martinelli pulls one back from the left of the box but Andersen gets himself in the way. Arsenal just had too much for Palace today. They really need this result.

02:12 PM GMT

80 mins - Arsenal 3 Crystal Palace 0

Gabriel Jesus off, Eddie Nketiah on. Gabriel off, Kiwior on. Not sure if it will count as one goal or two for Gabriel, but his influence on the result today is clear.

Arsenals' Gabriel celebrates after scoring during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal FC and Crystal Palace FC
Arsenals' Gabriel celebrates after scoring during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal FC and Crystal Palace FC

02:09 PM GMT

78 mins - Arsenal 3 Crystal Palace 0

Arsenal counter through Martinelli on the left, Mitchell gets the ball but then carelessly loses it in the box. Odegaard shots from the edge of the box but this time it’s Lerma who blocks. Gabriel gets some treatment.

02:04 PM GMT

74 mins - Arsenal 3 Crystal Palace 0

Jesus and Smith Rowe with a lovely bit of back-and-forth around the Palace box but Richards clears the danger before a red shirt can get a shot away. I think this game has another goal in it, probably for Arsenal...

02:03 PM GMT

71 mins - Arsenal 3 Crystal Palace 0

Just the three shots on target for Arsenal. And three goals. Five for Palace but nothing to show to it. In fairness, most of those have been speculative long shots. Jorginho on for Declan Rice.

01:59 PM GMT

68 mins - Arsenal 3 Crystal Palace 0

Palace have now committed a few more bodies forward and Arsenal are getting a few more openings because of it. Martinelli will come on to replace goalscorer Trossard, who has been ok today. Emile Smith Rowe replaces Havertz.

01:55 PM GMT

A third goal from a corner... indirectly

“Three goals down, Palace have an unusual distinction. They have conceded all three goals from corners – two that were awarded to Arsenal and now one of their own. That counter-attack went from Raya to Jesus and on to goalscorer Trossard directly.”

01:54 PM GMT

64 mins - Arsenal 3 Crystal Palace 0

Eze has been good today. He lines up a free kick from the left side of the box and hit it superbly with his right boot. It is however straight at Raya who has to just jump on the spot to send it behind for a corner.

01:51 PM GMT

60 mins - Arsenal 3 Crystal Palace 0

This is looking like the result that Arsenal so desperately needed. Arteta would have probably taken a win of any kind but this is looking like a comprehensive scoreline. Arsenal come again and Jesus’ shot is blocked from 12 yards out by Guehi. It was offside in any case but the home side have just stepped up a gear in the second-half now.

01:50 PM GMT

GOAL! Trossard puts Arsenal three up

Arsenal want a penalty! Gabriel Jesus thinks he has been pulled down off the ball as it comes in from the edge of the box. He threw his arms up in the air which was fairly dramatic but he was pulled back from what I saw...

Now Arsenal break after a brilliant throw from Raya. Out to the right for Jesus... the Palace back-line is spread and fairly threadbare. Jesus squares it to Trossard on the edge of the box, he takes a couple of touches and then smashes it past Henderson from around the penalty spot to surely secure the three points for Arsenal.

Arsenal 3 Crystal Palace 0

01:47 PM GMT

57 mins - Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 0

Jesus shoots from a tight angle inside the box and it is deflected into the side-netting. Another corner for Arsenal...

01:46 PM GMT

55 mins - Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 0

Zinchenko and Odegaard link up well on the edge of the box to put Jesus through but he’s offside again...

Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Crystal Palace - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - January 20, 2024 Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus reacts
Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Crystal Palace - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - January 20, 2024 Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus reacts

01:44 PM GMT

52 mins - Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 0

A fairly sedate pace to the game at the moment. Palace still fairly happy to sit back, it seems...

01:40 PM GMT

49 mins - Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 0

Eze has a go from distance for Palace but Raya dives to his right and sends it behind for a corner. A decent, low but dipping strike. Eze takes the corner and Raya takes comfortably above his head.

Arsenal attack immediately and are in! Jesus squares it to Trossard in space but he falls over his feet and cannot get a shot away. Saka went down under pressure and wanted a penalty but nothing was given.

01:36 PM GMT

46 mins - Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 0

Rice has a pop from distance but Henderson saves comfortably for Palace.

01:35 PM GMT


Second-half is under way, with neither side making any changes in the interval. Arsenal almost immediately win a corner...

01:21 PM GMT

Call for Potter?

“Television pictures have just shown Graham Potter in the crowd. He was looking at his phone. Presumably at the text from Steve Parrish wondering if he was available to take control of the second half.”

01:20 PM GMT

HALF-TIME: Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 0

Arsenal good for their lead at the Emirates. Palace have not offered much, really and went 1-0 down early.

01:18 PM GMT

45+1 mins - Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 0

Four minutes of added time here. I don’t think Palace will come back from this somehow. Odegaard sends in a ball to Havertz in the box but Richards clears the danger with a header.

Trossard with a chance on the left of the box! A neat few touches from Arsenal to put him in but he slices it from tight on the left but sends it over. He thinks it’s a corner but it is not.

01:14 PM GMT

42 mins - Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 0

Lerma is down and is being seen to by the medical staff. He’s looking a little groggy - not sure exactly what happened.

01:13 PM GMT

'Two giveaway goals from corners'

“A second goal for Arsenal and it is another header from a corner from Gabriel, again lost in the box by Chris Richards. VAR had a look at whether Ben White obstructed Dean Henderson but it did not take long to decide no foul was committed. Palace have played well defensively in all but two terrible giveaway goals from corners. Roy Hodgson can scarcely believe it. A lot of hard work thrown away by Palace in a few seconds.”

01:08 PM GMT

GOAL! Another goal from a corner for Arsenal

It’s from the right this time, Saka takes and Gabriel puts it away with his head. Henderson is unhappy that he has been blocked by Ben White on the line and, to be honest, I think he is probably right. But I’d need to look at it a bit more closely.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Crystal Palace - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - January 20, 2024 Crystal Palace's Dean Henderson reacts as he jumps above Arsenal's Ben White before Gabriel scores
Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Crystal Palace - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - January 20, 2024 Crystal Palace's Dean Henderson reacts as he jumps above Arsenal's Ben White before Gabriel scores

VAR will take a look at this... but the goal stands. And it goes down as a Henderson own goal as it deflected into the back of the net off Henderson’s head.

Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 0

01:07 PM GMT

36 mins - Arsenal 1 Crystal Palace 0

Mitchell has been solid in defence for Palace today and he averts danger, at least temporarily, by poking the ball out from under an Arsenal player’s boot for a corner.

01:05 PM GMT

34 mins - Arsenal 1 Crystal Palace 0

Poor clearance from Arsenal keeper Raya and Lerma takes a touch before half-volleying powerfully from 25 yards out. Raya has to be at full stretch to his right to save and sends it behind for a corner... which then comes to nothing. That is more like it from Palace.

Eze is fouled by Rice
Eze was fouled by Rice - Reuters/Hannah McKay

01:03 PM GMT

32 mins - Arsenal 1 Crystal Palace 0

Eze boots it straight into the wall... the follow-up shot finds Mateta who is free in the middle of the box but he cannot control it and Arsenal escape unscathed.

Arsenal have been the better side but they have not exactly been at their free-flowing and creative best. Apart from the goal conceded at the set-piece Palace have done okay at keeping Arsenal out.

01:01 PM GMT

29 mins - Arsenal 1 Crystal Palace 0

Palace break with Eze through the middle, he shifts it to Schlupp and then gets it back before he is fouled by Declan Rice about 24 yards out. Palace’s best opportunity of the game, this.

12:57 PM GMT

26 mins - Arsenal 1 Crystal Palace 0

It’s all very easy for Arsenal at the moment. Palace not offering much threat but then again that is hard to do without the ball...

12:55 PM GMT

23 mins - Arsenal 1 Crystal Palace 0

Havertz makes a run in the box, goes down under a challenge from Andersen but it is given as a free-kick to Palace? Simulation or hand-ball? Probably hand-ball as he caught the ball as he went to ground. Gabriel then gets an elbow into the chin from Mateta as they tussle for a ball on the wing of Arsenal’s half. Accidental, probably, but needs to be more aware.

12:52 PM GMT

20 mins - Arsenal 1 Crystal Palace 0

Saka is unleashed on the right, beats his man and then crosses for Jesus in the middle but Richards gets in the way and sends it behind for a corner. A hint of offside there, though the corner will still go head. Gabriel gets on the resultant corner but heads wide this time...

12:47 PM GMT

16 mins - Arsenal 1 Crystal Palace 0

Palace still without much of the ball and even less of it in the final third. A bit of it now, though with Andersen on the right. Havert and Zinchenko defend will, though Palace come again. They press Palace back to their own goal and Dean Henderson slices his clearance out for an Arsenal throw.

12:44 PM GMT

12 mins - Arsenal 1 Crystal Palace 0

The Emirates felt a little flat for the opening period before the goal. That has now changed. The team are also playing with a bit more zip, too. They have another corner and Palace escape this time, but it was nearly another goal as Jefferson Lerma accidentally nodded it back onto his own crossbar... Henderson was scrambling across for that one...

12:41 PM GMT

GOAAAAL! Arsenal lead!

Rice sends it on from the left and Gabriel runs into the six-yard box, rises high above his marker Richards and nods it down and into the back of the net!

Arsenal 1 Palace 0

12:40 PM GMT

9 min - Arsenal 0 Crystal Palace 0

Trossed picks up a lovely ball, stopping it on the byline and winning a corner through a blocked cross. What can Arsenal make of this corner?

12:38 PM GMT

7 min - Arsenal 0 Crystal Palace 0

Arsenal attack through Odegaard in the box, Jesus gets a loose ball from about 12 yards out and throws a left leg at it optimistically but he is harried by Palace defenders and slices his effort high and wide.

12:37 PM GMT

6 min - Arsenal 0 Crystal Palace 0

Palace without a great deal of the ball in these early stages. Mitchell comes up against Saka on the right but tackles well before he can get away a cross.

Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus, centre, in action during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium in London, Saturday, Jan. 20,
Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus, centre, in action during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium in London, Saturday, Jan. 20,

12:35 PM GMT

4 min - Arsenal 0 Crystal Palace 0

Palace lose the ball in their own half, Saka comes on the right and then Arsenal build an attack from the middle again. Odegaard gets the ball in the middle of the box from the left, takes a good touch from an aerial ball but cannot get his feet sorted out quickly enough to get a shot away and Palace clear the danger...

12:32 PM GMT

1 min - Arsenal 0 Crystal Palace 0

Arsenal get the ball in the final third but Ben White overhits his pass and it’s a Palace goal kick.

12:31 PM GMT


We are under way at the Emirates...

12:28 PM GMT

Right, we are nearly ready for kick-off

Predictions? I think Arsenal will bounce back here, 2-0.

12:18 PM GMT

Mikel Arteta speaks before the match to TNT Sports

“Yeah, we have to earn the right to win, we have to perform. We are ready, we are really excited to get back playing. They [Jesus and Zinchenko, who return] are both available, they have been training the last few days, impact is what we need. In every Premier League game [scoring] is important because the margins are so small and it’s the hardest thing in football but I believe in my players.

“Let it flow, they all have the ability to do that. It will come. I am a very positive person and I want people around me to be positive We are are fantastic team, we have been doing so well and we have to continue to believe.”

12:17 PM GMT

Our reporter at the Emirates

“There’s an unexpected visitor at the Emirates today. I just came into the ground behind Graham Potter. The immediate thought when seeing an eminent out-of-work manager at a match is to wonder: why is he here? Is he observing Crystal Palace with a view to taking over after Roy Hodgson?

“It would be an intriguing appointment, fulfilling the chairman Steve Parish’s wish for a progressive coach. But with his Brighton connection, it would not be a welcome piece of recruitment for the fans. Could he be there for an emotional reunion with Leandro Trossard, now of Arsenal? Or maybe, given he is accompanied by his children, he is simply here to watch the match. Watch this space...”

12:11 PM GMT

More from Arteta on Arsenal's slump

“If you look at all the data Arsenal, Arsenal – in the top, in the top, in the top. The reality is we haven’t won enough matches so there is something underneath that. It’s like an onion: the first layer, two layers. We have to go to the bottom to understand what is making us win or not win. It’s been the small details, the small margins… we have to change that. We have to find something else to win.”

12:01 PM GMT

Roy Hodgson battles on as Crystal Palace search for a brighter future

Crystal Palace are enjoying their longest-ever run in English football’s top division – so why do the club’s supporters feel so jaded?

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion at Selhurst Park on December 21, 2023 in London, England
Is all well at Crystal Palace? - Getty Images/Rob Newell

Read more from Sam Dean here. 

11:42 AM GMT

The teams are in...


Starting XI: Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Rice, Havertz, Odegaard, Saka, Trossard, Jesus Substitutes: Ramsdale, Cedric, Walters, Kiwior, Jorginho, Smith Rowe, Nelson, Martinelli, Nketiah

Substitutes: Ramsdale, Cedric, Walters, Kiwior, Jorginho, Smith Rowe, Nelson, Martinelli, Nketiah

Crystal Palace

Starting XI: Henderson, Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell, Lerma, Richards, Eze, Hughes, Mateta, Schlupp

Substitutes: Johnstone, Tomkins, Franca de Oliveira, Edouard, Ebiowei, Ahamada, Riedewald, Adaramola, Ozoh

11:32 AM GMT

Good morning

Welcome to our live coverage for the early Premier League kick-off between Arsenal and Crystal Palace at the Emirates. It’s fair to say that Arsenal’s form has taken a bit of a battering recently with just one win and four losses in their last seven games in all competitions, including three in a row against West Ham, Fulham and Liverpool most recently. The goals have dried up and former league leaders and last season’s closest challengers have now slipped off the pace.

That said, they are only five points adrift of Liverpool at the top, which is hardly a disaster if they can turn their form around. The good news is that this is their first Premier League game after their winter break, so perhaps something will have changed. Certainly their manager Mikel Arteta has recognised that they need to get back to winning ways though that is hardly the biggest revelation.

“We better start to pick up points that is for sure, if we want it be up there, to start to have consistently three points on the board. We know that at this level, you cannot have more slip-ups at this level,” he said.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta before the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on January 20, 2024 in London, England
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta before the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on January 20, 2024 in London, England

“We want to cut that [lead] as quick as possible and every time you lose, the next most important thing is to win. We have not managed to do that and that is the reality and we have to face it.

“We have done a lot of things to try to do that and to produce as much as possible in the games and as little as possible from the opponent, which has happened, but in the end you have to win the games and that hasn’t happened.”

There are still 18 games to go, so there is plenty of time to turn things around. You would start to worry if things continue, though a home game against Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace is probably a good place to start. Palace have just one win in their last 11 games in all competitions, though that run does include a creditable 2-2 draw at the Etihad against Manchester City.

The five-point gap to 18th placed Luton at the top of the relegation places is perhaps not as big as they would like it to be. 
On current form, becoming embroiled in a fight at the bottom is not out of the question.

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