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Report: Palace fall to narrow Arsenal defeat

Crystal Palace
Ødegaard 54'

A second-half penalty from Martin Ødegaard was enough to see Arsenal sneak past Palace in the Eagles’ opening Premier League home game of 2023/24.


  • Palace unchanged from opening-day win at Sheffield United
  • Light show and huge Selhurst welcome precedes pre-match tributes
  • Martinelli effort blocked as Arsenal start brightly
  • Palace match visitors as Eze tests Ramsdale from range
  • Doucouré rocket flies high and wide
  • Nketiah hits the post with prodded finish
  • Ayew breakaway halted by Saliba before Nketiah chips over
  • HT: Palace 0-0 Arsenal
  • Nketiah wins early second-half penalty which Ødegaard converts
  • Ayew lashes wide as Palace mount immediate response
  • Arsenal dial up the pressure but Palace hold firm
  • Tomiyasu sent off for visitors for two quickfire yellows
  • Eze has penalty appeal turned down
  • Edouard heads wide late on
  • FT: Palace 0-1 Arsenal

Roy Hodgson kept faith with the same side which performed so impressively in the 1-0 win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane the previous week, an unchanged starting XI giving Jeffrey Schlupp his 200th appearance in Palace colours.

New club captain Joel Ward had said in the build-up to the game that he knew exactly what the Selhurst Park faithful could “create” – and on the occasion of Palace’s first home game of 2023/24, it was something quite spectacular.

Electrifying light shows, bright displays and a wall of noise greeted the players’ entrance to the Selhurst turf – a welcome return home from the red and blue army.

This was followed by an immaculately-observed minute’s applause for those who sadly could not be there to witness it: former manager Trevor Francis, who passed away recently aged 69, and former Millwall chairman and owner John Berylson, who died in July at 70.

Once the match kicked off, the roars returned from the Selhurst Park faithful, 85 days since their last taste of Premier League football in SE25.

Having mounted an impressive campaign last year, however, it was the visitors who started with the greater intent, Gabriel Martinelli’s dancing feet requiring sharp defending from Ward to close down a shooting opportunity inside the opening minute.

But buoyed by their tremendous support, Palace more than matched their opponents for intensity, Ebere Eze testing Aaron Ramsdale’s reflexes from range with a rising effort from 30 yards which – unfortunately – ended up at a comfortable enough height for the sprawling ‘keeper.

Cheick Doucouré was the next Palace midfielder to try his luck from range, but his instinctive swivel and strike – albeit powerful – was always drifting away from goal.

A fast start settled into a more consistent pace as the first-half wore on, but there was the occasional reminder of Arsenal’s offensive quality, with Eddie Nketiah escaping the attentions of the Palace backline to prod – on the stretch, and under pressure from a recovering Joachim Andersen – against the base of the post.

The to-and-fro continued, Jordan Ayew’s persistence up front seeing him nick the ball and almost run clear – only to be denied on the slide by William Saliba – before Nketiah, played through by Declan Rice, floated an effort onto the top of Sam Johnstone’s netting.

Palace were more than deserving of parity at the halfway mark, but Arsenal emerged from the tunnel with a noticeable step up in intensity, winning a series of set-pieces.

It was from a deep free-kick they forced their breakthrough, some quick-thinking from Saka playing Nketiah through. His feet clipped by the covering Johnstone, up stepped Ødegaard to convert the subsequent penalty kick – awarded following a VAR review.

It did not take the Eagles long to mount a response, some sharp play around the visitors’ box ending in Ayew lashing a rising drive into the side-netting from a tight angle.

Having made the breakthrough, Arsenal turned up the pressure on the Palace goalmouth, calling on Johnstone to be in good form with his high claims and punches – Kai Havertz coming closest with an ambitious dipping volley.

But the momentum quickly reversed midway through the second half as a pair of ill-judged decisions – the first for time-wasting from a throw-in, the latter for holding back Ayew – saw the visitors go down to ten men with a quarter of the game remaining.

Sadly, despite applying waves of pressure, shooting opportunities proved few and far between, although Ebere Eze had good cause to claim for a penalty after dancing between Declan Rice and Thomas Partey. This time, however, VAR refuted the call.

Their clearest chance fell to Odsonne Edouard but the Frenchman, twisting his body to meet Tyrick Mitchell’s fiercely-struck flat cross, could not adjust quickly enough to guide his header on target.

There was still time for one lofted ball – via the heads of late substitute Jesurun Rak-Sakyi and Doucouré – to fall sweetly for Mitchell to strike but, amidst a sea of bodies, his strike seared over the bar as Arsenal saw out the waves of pressure.

Palace: Johnstone (GK), Ward (Rak-Sakyi, 83), Andersen, Guéhi, Mitchell, Doucouré, Lerma, Ayew, Eze, Schlupp (Ahamada, 74), Edouard

Subs: Matthews (GK), Clyne, Tomkins, Richards, Riedewald, Gordon

Arsenal: Ramsdale (GK), Partey, White, Saliba, Tomiyasu, Rice, Havertz (Gabriel, 70), Ødegaard (Kiwior, 90), Saka (Zinchenko, 90) Martinelli, Nketiah (Jorginho, 78)

Subs: Raya (GK), Smith Rowe, Nelson, Vieira, Trossard

As It Happened