Jordan Ayew’s deflected equaliser earned Crystal Palace a point at home against Arsenal, who had goalscorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sent off by the video assistant referee (VAR). Captain Aubameyang had put his side ahead with a well-worked team goal as Mikel Arteta’s side dominated the first half. But Ayew brought Palace level after the break, his goal-bound effort leaving Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno with little chance after bouncing off David Luiz. Aubameyang was then sent off following a lunging tackle which caught Max Meyer on the left ankle, VAR overturning the initial yellow card he was awarded by referee Paul Tierney. This fixture had heralded 28 goals in the previous seven meetings between the two sides but little could separate them this time around, though both James Tomkins and Nicolas Pepe went close to winners for their respective teams.
The Eagles could consider themselves lucky to end the match with 11 players with Tomkins narrowly avoiding a red card after a late challenge on Gabriel Martinelli, in what was a feisty first London derby of 2020. Arsenal manager Arteta – who was not even born when Palace boss Roy Hodgson started his managerial career – remains without an away win in the league since taking over as manager on 20 December. Palace, meanwhile, remain ninth in the Premier League table, one place above the Gunners. Just seven days ago, Arsenal had been stunned by a dominant Leeds United in the first half of their FA Cup third round win, but the opening 45 minutes at Selhurst Park couldn’t have been more different. Unchanged from the win over Manchester United on New Year’s Day, they dictated the opening exchanges at Palace, enjoying almost 80% of possession during the first 10 minutes.
That was rewarded when clever link-up play between Luiz, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette helped Aubameyang open the scoring, a punt from Lacazette putting the Gabon striker through with only Vicente Guaita to beat for his 14th league goal of the season. After the break, Luiz could do little about his helping hand in Palace’s goal but he almost immediately made up for it, heading onto the roof of the net from a corner. But Arsenal suffered a huge blow when top scorer Aubameyang was sent off for the tackle that left Meyer unable to continue, loan signing Cenk Tosun coming on in his place. There was an audible gasp inside Selhurst Park when a replay was shown on the big screens after the VAR decision had been made.
Pepe thought he had hit the winner with 10 minutes remaining but his blistering left-footed effort was superbly tipped on to the post by Guaita who then spread himself at the feet of Lacazette when the ball rebounded back into the middle of the penalty box. In the end, this match echoed the last time these teams met, Arsenal letting a two-goal cushion slip as Palace fought back to draw 2-2 in October. Arsenal have now failed to win five league matches this season after leading at half-time.