There was little sign of hangover from a four-match winless run prior to the winter break for Arsenal as they overcame Crystal Palace in a comfortable 5-0 victory. There were some nerves around the Emirates Stadium that the below-par displays from prior to the January break might continue – but Mikel Arteta’s side looked vastly improved in north London.
Gabriel opened the scoring before forcing a Dean Henderson own goal. Leandro Trossard scored a third shortly into the second half before Gabriel Martinelli rose from the bench to bag a late brace. Express Sport picks out five talking points.
Mikel Arteta masterplan comes together
Arsenal spent their winter break predominantly honing their set-piece skills. Assistant coach Nicolas Jover has had a major impact on Arsenal’s dead-ball situations in recent years.
The Gunners scored 11 goals from corners in the first half of the concede – a joint-Premier League high. Although they have also conceded four in their last six matches.
Arsenal took a 2-0 lead thanks to two excellent corner deliveries from Declan Rice and Bukayo Saka, in addition to clever movement that was clearly practised on the training ground while the squad prepared in Dubai.
Defender Gabriel superbly met both crosses, heading in Rice’s corner before forcing a Henderson own goal shortly before half-time. Arsenal are desperate for more goals but continuing their threat from set-pieces will come at a huge advantage.
Gabriel is Arsenal’s unlikely goal threat
Gabriel bagged his second goal of the season and was unlucky not to have a third when his second header was awarded to Palace goalkeeper Henderson as an own goal. If Arsenal are to focus on set-pieces then the Brazilian defender will surely score a few more before the end of the campaign.
His movement was clever and he possessed great strength in twice holding off Palace’s Chris Richards. Arsenal’s runs created the space for Gabriel to attack the back post. It is underappreciated how crucial set-pieces can be in a title race.
Jury still out on David Raya
Arteta’s decision to replace Aaron Ramsdale with David Raya earlier this season split opinion. It was deemed that Raya was better in possession than Ramsdale and was more comfortable being positioned further from his goal when Arsenal harboured possession.
The Spaniard has had several nervy moments this term and that was no different against Palace. He
But Arteta might have felt vindicated when Raya prompted the wonderful sweeping counter-attack that led to Leandro Trossard scoring the game-clinching third goal.