Arsenal became the first side to win nine London derbies in the same Premier League (PL) season as they eased to a 4-1 success over managerless Crystal Palace to remain on course for a first league title since 2003-04.
Keen to bounce back from their disappointing UEFA Europa League exit at the hands of Sporting CP on Thursday night, the Gunners were heavy favourites to see off a Palace side who are winless in 2023 – a record which resulted in the sacking of manager and Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira on Friday.
Somewhat surprisingly, it was the PL’s lowest scorers who had the first two clear-cut opportunities, with Wilfried Zaha’s shot from inside the area coming back off the left post before Odsonne Edouard had his shot saved by Aaron Ramsdale in a one-on-one situation.
Mikel Arteta’s side aren’t top of the table for no reason though, and they went up a gear after their slow start to take command of the contest.
First, Bukayo Saka’s ball across the area found Gabriel Martinelli, who controlled it and switched onto his left foot before firing past Joseph Whitworth and into the corner.
Then, with HT approaching, the effervescent Saka went from provider to scorer when he latched onto Ben White’s through-ball and shot past Whitworth to give the hosts a comfortable lead at the break.
The Eagles knew it would be difficult to get back into the match, especially given Arsenal had lost just one of their last 16 home matches, and things got even worse 10 minutes after the restart when Granit Xhaka played a one-two with Leandro Trossard and got to the ball just before Joel Ward to direct it home from close range.
Palace kept fighting though, and they pulled a goal back soon after when the ball landed at the feet of Jeffrey Schlupp from a corner, allowing the Ghanaian to divert it home from a few yards out.
Any hopes of an Eagles comeback were quashed with just over 15 minutes remaining though when Saka fired home his second of the afternoon to send Arsenal eight points clear at the summit, having played a game more than Manchester City, while Palace remain 12th.
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