EPL

Arsenal ease to win as pressure mounts on Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson

By Sports Desk January 20, 2024

Substitute Gabriel Martinelli scored a late double to consign Crystal Palace to a crushing 5-0 defeat at Arsenal which increases the pressure on Roy Hodgson.

Gabriel nodded in the opener for the Gunners, while Eagles keeper Dean Henderson was credited with an own goal and Leandro Trossard grabbed the third on an afternoon that rarely saw Hodgson’s side pose a threat.

Eberechi Eze marked a century of Premier League appearances after he was controversially replaced in the 64th minute of Wednesday’s FA Cup third-round replay loss to Everton and provided the occasional bright spark for the visitors.

It was hardly enough to please the away supporters, who raised banners protesting against the direction of their club before Martinelli buried their side moments later.

Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko returned to Mikel Arteta’s starting line-up for the Gunners, who were ahead seconds after the 10-minute mark when Gabriel leveraged the shoulders of Palace defender Chris Richards to rise highest and head home Declan Rice’s corner.

Palace were lucky to avoid falling further behind when a dangerous deflection off midfielder Jefferson Lerma flew towards the top left corner of his own net only to clip the woodwork.

That sigh of relief did little to relieve the overall pressure, Palace rarely finding themselves in the vicinity of the Gunners’ goal until the half hour, when Eze fired a free-kick from a dangerous position straight into a wall of red shirts.

David Raya was finally called into action when his own clearance only travelled as far as Lerma, who forced the Arsenal keeper into a low, diving save at his left post.

The Gunners doubled their advantage in the 37th minute when Gabriel nodded Bukayo Saka’s corner towards Henderson’s net and was initially awarded the goal, which stood after a VAR check but subsequently changed to an own goal for the Palace keeper.

There was a late attempt by Lerma, who had just been treated for what initially looked to be a head or neck injury, comfortably saved, while an onrushing Trossard failed to find the back of the net in first-half added time.

Palace had scored two or more goals in just five of their Premier League meetings going into this 21st encounter and desperately hoped to make it six after the break, when Henderson denied Rice and Raya safely handled Eze’s effort.

The chances kept coming for Arsenal, who were denied a possible penalty after a VAR consultation, and they were soon three goals to the good after Jesus’ pinpoint pass found Trossard, who weaved around Nathaniel Clyne and neatly finished to the top left.

Richards nodded over in added-time, in full view of supporters in the away end who raised a banner reading “wasted potential on and off the pitch, weak decisions taking us backwards”.

Moments later, substitute Martinelli fired in the hosts’ fourth, then a near-identical fifth.

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