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Tactical points from dramatic Crystal Palace draw

By Vinay Shankar (Tactical Analyst)

A lucky point in the end, but the passiveness for large periods of the game is the bigger worry than the result. It's not often you get to see a last-gasp equalizer, but it's a shame we needed such a dramatic finish.

  • Utilizing Ødegaard in a deeper role in a hybrid 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 formation looks like a common theme against lower-placed teams, in order to bring in a greater attacking threat by deploying more technical players in the team.

  • After a great start where Arsenal looked to press high and generated a lot of turnovers, the intensity dropped down and the entire unit started to drop deeper. Though Crystal Palace failed to capitalize, we gave them a foothold.

  • The players were stuck between holding onto the ball to control the tempo or dropping deeper to play on the counter and be as direct as possible. The latter tactic prevailed for a large part of the game, whereas they would have obviously been better suited to slow down the pace and keep the ball as long as possible. Even the goal kicks were booted up the field to relieve the pressure rather than play through the press consistently.

  • On the other hand, Palace were content on just moving the ball sideways and hardly posed a threat from this ball domination. The issue remains that Arsenal would have been better suited to play like Palace after taking the lead rather than drop deep.

  • As the intensity of the press dropped, Odegaard seemed to be caught in no-man's land, with the Norwegian either dropping incredibly deep to cover Connor Gallagher or press the midfield pivot. With the gaps widening, Gallagher was consistently left unmarked in the buildup while Palace had the ball. Even despite the knock to Saka, the switch to bring on Lokonga had to be made regardless, to bring some stability to the midfield.

  • With Pepe continuing to frustrate, the lack of combination play between Tierney and Smith-Rowe was a surprise. It was only after Lacazette came on that the Scotsman started to play the ball inside into the half-spaces and provide more of an attacking outlet.

  • Lacazette and Aubameyang have rarely shown their off-pitch chemistry on the field in the last 3 years but the duo were in sync from the moment the Frenchman came on. Playing the two of them together against Villa on Friday seems like a good experiment to try based on last night.

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