Arsene Wenger's job is under threat after another defeat
Furious Arsenal fans at Selhurst Park called for the Frenchman to go, as his feeble side succumbed to goals from Andros Townsend, Yohan Cabaye and a penalty from Luka Milivojevic.
It was a new low in a season of lows for Wenger and his team and a result that left Arsenal seven points outside the Champions League qualifying places having won just two of their last eight league games.
A new two-year contract is still on the table at the Emirates for the Frenchman, which he has said he will consider depending upon results until the end of the season.
This defeat will only deepen the resolve of those who want to see his reign ended.
While Arsenal fans sang, “You’re not fit to wear the shirt”, Palace celebrated their fifth win in their last six games after a magnificent display just a week after beating Chelsea. It left them six points clear of the relegation places.
Arsenal’s preparations were not helped by being caught in south London traffic and not getting to Selhurst Park until 45 minutes before kick-off.
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And they were nearly caught cold when Cabaye lifted a shot just over. Then the Frenchman clipped a drive a foot wide from 25 yards.
But Arsenal hit back when Mohamed Elneny flashed in a shot from the edge of the area that Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey had to tip around the post.
Palace’s pace on the flanks, though, with Wilfried Zaha and Townsend, was worrying the Gunners. And it was that duo that swiftly unlocked a nervy Arsenal defence. Townsend started the move, cutting in and feeding Cabaye.
He turned the ball on to an unmarked Zaha, who fell as he crossed but still found Townsend eight yards out and the winger crashed the ball into the net.
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The danger signs were still there for Sam Allardyce’s men, though, when Alexis Sanchez dropped a shoulder and curled a shot narrowly wide.
But Palace were hunting the ball down and were full of running – and the danger to Wenger’s men on the break was all too evident. Mamadou Sakho, immense in Palace’s win at Chelsea, was once again an immovable force in the Palace defence, one superb block denying Sanchez a good chance.
Townsend puts Palace ahead at Selhurst Park
Yohan Cabaye's curled shot flies into the net for 2-0
Luke Milivojevic converts from the penalty spot
The problem for Palace was always going to be keeping up the ferocious pace they had set from the off – but they did.
Meanwhile, the Gunners defensively looked desperately fragile, as they have so often this season. Christian Benteke was allowed yards of space just before half-time and only a fine reflex save from Gunners keeper Emiliano Martinez kept him out.
But, going forward, the Gunners still carried a threat and Danny Welbeck should have done better than shooting wide of the far post, then Gabriel saw his header saved just before the break. Zaha had Nacho Monreal in a spin again down the right early in the second half and when the Ivory Coast star’s cross reached Benteke, he turned but saw his left-footer – which looked goalbound – deflected wide.
Then the Belgian had the ball in the net when keeper Martinez fumbled, only to be ruled offside. But once again, on the break, Palace struck – and it was the same combination.
Townsend found Zaha, who again slipped as he crossed but there was Cabaye once more in space and his first-time shot curled over Martinez and in. Five minutes later, it got even worse for Arsenal when Martinez galloped foolishly out of his goal to bring down Townsend.
Milivojevic stepped up to ram home the penalty and Arsenal’s misery was complete.