Tactical Points from Arsenal's disappointing performance at Selhurst Park
By Vinay Shankar (Tactical Analyst)
A horrendous result at this stage of the season at an away ground against slippery opposition and a club legend with a point to prove regarding his managerial skills. A quick reset is the only way to move past and focus on the cup finals ahead.
Smith-Rowe starting instead of Martinelli was a bit of a surprise but considering Tierney's injury, defensive support for Tavares was just as important against a pacy front three.
"Away games against the competitive teams (mid-table ones) are all about how quickly the scrappiness can be sorted out and controlling the tempo of the game in a hostile atmosphere." This was an excerpt of my analysis from the Villa game and this game was a lesson in what happens if a team doesn't play its own game.
From the early minutes itself, Palace's game plan was pretty clear and further illustrates how bad Arsenal started the game. Guehi targeted his passes inside the fullback to release Zaha behind the backline. The second goal was a result of a poor high line when Anderson played a hopeful ball inside Tavares.
Without the ball, the press was disjointed and very passive for most of the first half and the team looked like it was playing with each other after a long break.
On the other side, Palace was organised without the ball. They pressed high when the play went back to Ramsdale and packed the central areas to choke Arsenal's buildup. Gallagher man-marking Partey prevented the Ghanian from progressing the play centrally.
Building out through Odegaard when the playmaker drifts to the left was also cut out. The athleticism in the Eagles midfield is such that they were very alert to Lacazette dropping deep to progress the play. Palace was well-drilled but what didn't help was the loose touches, second to every duel among other things that didn't go Arsenal's way. The creation of 1v1s in the wide areas was barely visible in the first half.
Personnel and tactical switches in the second half were more to with game state than for punishing a poor half. The idea behind the attacking 4-3-3 and the subsequent 3-5-2 seemed to be to stretch the Palace setup as well as have more support for Lacazette in and around the box. This allowed for the long diagonals to always be an option to find the spare man. With nothing going their way, Arsenal needed to be clinical and hope for the best but it just turned out to be a forgettable away night.