Yannick Bolasie scored late on to grab a first-ever point at the Emirates Stadium for Crystal Palace as they held Arsenal to a 1-1 draw.
Alan Pardew’s side impressed during the first half as they weathered the storm and looked to be going into half-time level but Alexis Sanchez netted in stoppage time to deny them that, but Palace hung in there and grabbed a point when the winger fired home from 20 yards with nine minutes to go.
The draw continues the recent upturn in results for the Eagles, who kicked off a big week for the club by holding Arsene Wenger’s men on their own turf.
The opening 15 minutes was a procession of Arsenal attacks and the home side spent the majority of that time camped inside the Eagles’ third probing, but apart for a blocked Mohamed Elneny attempt Wayne Hennessey was left largely untroubled and it was Palace who had the first real sight of goal when Scott Dann miscued a header and saw it flash over.
From then on it was a much more even affair and Bolasie tested Petr Cech when he managed to get a shot away from the edge of the box after creating an opening, and with 10 minutes of the first half remaining Laurent Koscielny steered a header well wide from a Sanchez corner as Pardew’s men continued to soak up any pressure thrown at them.
A flurry of opportunities came just before the interval, beginning with Hennessey being called into action for the first time when Mesut Ozil played a give and go with Sanchez and slipped in behind the defence but the Welshman was quickly off his line to thwart the danger, before Palace squandered a great chance to take a lead into the break when Connor Wickham met a Yohan Cabaye free-kick but could guide his header on target.
And immediately after that the Gunners snatched the lead with seconds of the half to go by pouncing on the Eagles when they were caught in possession on the edge of their own box. Danny Welbeck won the ball before picking it up again off Ozil and clipping a delightful pass over the defence into Sanchez’s path, and the diminutive Chilean nodded the ball over Hennessey to put his side in front.
The second half continued in a similar pattern with the majority of the chances falling Arsenal’s way and Welbeck fired straight at Hennessey after linking up with Alex Iwobi, and Ozil bent a free-kick narrowly wide of the mark before the Palace stopper managed to get his body in the way of a volley by Welbeck as Wenger’s outfit searched for the comfort of a two goal lead.
They nearly got it when Palace were caught napping when a quickly-taken free-kick by Ozil allowed Sanchez a chance to grab his second but his header crept wide of the far post, but whilst it was still 1-0 the away side had a sniff of a point and half-time substitute Bakary Sako saw a header from a Cabaye corner tipped over well by Cech.
But with eight minutes to go the Eagles did managed to draw level. Emmanuel Adebayor, who had received a heated response from the Gunners fans following his introduction from the bench, bullied his way down the left flank and found Bolasie, who managed to drift inside and fire a low shot into the bottom corner that Cech couldn’t get down quick enough to push away, allowing the winger to score his first goal since November.
Palace could have even snatched all the points at the end when Wilfried Zaha broke down the right and a lucky bounce gave him the chance to shoot or square for an unmarked Adebayor inside the area, but a last-ditch tackle by Gabriel snuffed out the opportunity, but Pardew would have been happy to see his side take a draw back across the river to south London.
Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Gabriel, Monreal, Elneny (Walcott 84), Coquelin, Sanchez, Ozil, Iwobi (Ramsey 75), Welbeck (Giroud 75). Subs not used: Ospina, Mertesacker, Chambers, Campbell.
Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare, Puncheon (Zaha 75), Jedinak (Sako 46), Cabaye, Ledley, Bolasie, Wickham (Adebayor 63). Subs not used: Speroni, Kelly, Mariappa, Lee.