In a nail-biting clash at Selhurst Park, Arsenal clinched their second consecutive victory in the 2023-24 Premier League season, narrowly defeating Crystal Palace 1-0.
This exhilarating match saw a confident penalty from Martin Odegaard as the deciding factor, but it also witnessed the Gunners enduring a relentless Eagles onslaught during the final 30 minutes, triggered by the controversial sending off of Takehiro Tomiyasu.
A noteworthy decision by Arsenal’s manager, Mikel Arteta, was to keep Gabriel Magalhaes on the bench for the second game in a row.
Instead, Tomiyasu stepped in to replace the injured Jurrien Timber on the left-hand side.
Despite Arsenal’s dominance in possession, Crystal Palace, displaying commendable defensive organization, initially held Arteta’s men at bay.
Arsenal orchestrated several passes around the penalty area, but that elusive killer ball remained elusive.
Palace sought opportunities on the counter-attack, keeping Arsenal’s goalkeeper, Aaron Ramsdale, on his toes.
In the 15th minute, Ramsdale was called into action, palming away a Jordan Ayew cross to the edge of the box, where neither Eberechi Eze nor Cheick Doucoure could unleash a shot before Odegaard seized the moment.
Barely a minute later, Eze forced a comfortable save from Ramsdale during a positive spell for Palace.
Arsenal, however, gradually began creating openings for Eddie Nketiah, who regrettably squandered two golden opportunities to put the Gunners in the lead.
With 29 minutes elapsed, the 24-year-old Nketiah struck the post after a precise pass from Saka.
Seven minutes later, he found himself in a similar position on the right-hand side of the box, courtesy of Rice, but his attempted chip sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.
Odegaard attempted a long-range shot in the 42nd minute, but Sam Johnstone, Palace’s goalkeeper, tipped the dipping effort over the bar, preserving a clean sheet for the first half.
However, this clean sheet was short-lived, as Arsenal broke the deadlock just eight minutes into the second half.
A quick free-kick from Gabriel Martinelli to Nketiah caught Palace off guard, and the Englishman skillfully poked the ball beyond Johnstone before being fouled by the Eagles’ goalkeeper.
Odegaard stepped up to take the penalty and calmly sent Johnstone the wrong way.
Following Odegaard’s goal, Arsenal seemed to be in control, but their fortunes took a turn in the 68th minute.
Tomiyasu, who had already been booked for time-wasting, was sent off for a second bookable offense, halving Arsenal’s strength on the pitch.
Replays indicated minimal contact between Tomiyasu and Ayew, but the Japanese defender’s needless yellow card for time-wasting worked against him.
Arteta swiftly bolstered his defense by bringing on Gabriel for a frustrated Martinelli.
Predictably, Tomiyasu’s dismissal breathed new life into Palace.
In the 72nd minute, Palace fervently appealed for a penalty when Eze went down under Thomas Partey’s challenge, but the officials waved away their claims.
In the closing stages of the match, Palace relentlessly attacked the 10-man Arsenal, with every Arsenal player behind the ball.
In the 86th minute, Odsonne Edouard had a chance to equalize, but he couldn’t adjust his body in time, and the ball struck his chest before trickling wide.
As injury time ticked away, Mitchell continued to lead the Palace charge and had the hosts’ best chance for a last-gasp equalizer, but his volley from a tight angle sailed over the crossbar.
Arsenal celebrated the full-time whistle with the relief of a team that had put in a monumental defensive effort.
Their next challenge is to maintain their perfect start in another London derby against Fulham on Saturday, while Palace will travel to fellow capital rivals Brentford in five days’ time.