The run is over. It was fun while it lasted. Reality gave us a slap in the face and our charge for top 4 probably died with that point.
No Tierney, Partey, or either Gabriel gave us a leggy performance that lacked true penetration.
That lack of quality in the final third, both with the final pass, and the final shot, were not quite there.
We also looked pretty open. Palace hit the target twice. Both times pulling great saves out of Bernd Leno. That didn’t really tell the full story, Palace were bad in front of goal considering some of the great chances they had. The woodwork was rattled. Granit Xhaka did have to step in with two spectacular interventions.
Talking of Granit. You had the full package. He was the most prolific of the progressive pass makers, he made some elite tackles, he was blood and thunder… but he also tackled like Boris Johnson after 3 pints, he gave away two freekicks in dangerous areas, and one of his very poor stray passes led to a dangerous counter.
Mikel Arteta blamed tired legs from the Newcastle game. I thought we lacked energy at times, but overall, it just felt like a game where things didn’t click. Hector wasn’t at the races. Saka and ESR were quiet. AMN looked unusually shaky at times. It just wasn’t our day.
Still, my main takeaway from the bland result was this: At least it was a bad day at the office for players that will get better.
I’ll take that sort of game from ESR, Saka, and AMN. Much better than watching that exact performance from Willian, Pepe and Kolasinac.
The biggest loss was Tierney. He’s suffering with tight muscles, no doubt because we’ve played him in nearly every game. He was always going to break at some point with no rest. Let’s hope it’s just tightness and a few days rest will get him back in shape.
If he does come back, the Newcastle game starts to look like the first time we could see a true selection. Thomas Partey will make a huge difference. Martinelli will give us that energy we lacked at times today. ESR and Saka have to keep playing. That’ll make us a more dynamic team and hopefully give us the three points we really need.
Short post today. I’ll be back later with some thoughts on the other things that are going on around the club!