Martin Odegaard’s penalty was enough to beat Crystal Palace and record back-to-back wins at the start of the campaign, despite us finishing with 10 men.
The captain stroked home a spot-kick on 53 minutes after Eddie Nketiah was brought down in the box by Sam Johnstone, before Takehiro Tomiyasu was dismissed for two yellow cards - our first dismissal in the Premier League since May 2022.
However Mikel Arteta’s team clung onto the points thanks to a solid rearguard display from that point onwards to kick off the season with six points from six.
First half frustration
While the teams were greeted with pyro, flames, loud music and cheerleaders, the early proceedings struggled to match the same excitement. The host had the better opportunities in front of goal, and Eberechi Eze forced Aaron Ramsdale into a routine save on 15 minutes before Cheick Doucoure blasted a shot from 30 yards into the home supporters behind our shot-stopper.
We gradually grew into the half, and after working through the gears created the half’s big opportunity on 28 minutes when Kai Havertz won possession and threaded the ball between Eagles centre-backs Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi for Eddie Nketiah to run onto. He held off the challenge of both before trickling a shot past Sam Johnstone but saw it strike the base of the post.
The tide was turning and soon another chance came Nketiah’s way when Odegaard and Declan Rice linked up to allow the striker to go one-on-one with Johnstone but his dinked effort flew over the bar, and four minutes before the end of the opening 45 the skipper tried his luck from range with a dipping shot that Johnstone had to tip over before Gabriel Martinelli volleyed a Thomas Partey cross wide of the mark.
We carried that momentum into the second half and within eight minutes we managed to find the elusive breakthrough. After we won a free-kick, the Eagles switched off and some quick thinking by Martinelli saw him sneak Nketiah in on goal, who was brought down by Johnstone. After a VAR check, Odegaard was allowed to step up and send the home keeper the wrong way from 12 yards.
Chances to potentially kill the game were and Partey had shot beaten away before Havertz drilled an attempt wide of the post, but then on 67 minutes the game took another twist. Tomiyasu, who had earlier been booked for delaying a throw-in, was shown a second yellow after Jordan Ayew spun away from him, but replays showed the contact was minimal.
Getting over the line
From that point onwards it was about digging in and trying to hold onto our one-goal lead as Palace probed to try and utilise their man advantage. Gabriel and Jorginho were sent on to steady the ship as Mikel Arteta did what he could to see us through the final quarter.
It did the trick, and we restricted Palace to fleeting moments of danger despite them occupying our half the most of the remainder of the contest, but their big chance came and went when Odsonne Edouard missed a glorious chance when he screwed a header well wide from a good Tyrick Mitchell cross.
Despite seven minutes of stoppage-time being played, we managed to successfully nullify Roy Hodgson’s team to just one more opportunity when Mitchell lashed a half-volley over after a scramble in the box, and the final whistle was greeted with passionate celebrations by our players, delighted they’d managed to overcome adversity to record successive wins.
Facts and stats
Tonight was our 200th Premier League away clean sheet, becoming only the third side to do so after Manchester United (205) and Chelsea (204). Under Mikel Arteta, we've kept a clean sheet in 28 of our 68 away games (41 per cent), only under Bruce Rioch do they have a better Premier League record (8/19 – 42 per cent - min. five games).
We have now recorded successive away league wins over Palace for the first time since a run of three wins between October 2013 and August 2015, while we are now unbeaten in 13 successive London derbies in the competition (W11 D2).
Martin Odegaard took and scored his first penalty in a league game since doing so for Vitesse against De Graafschap in the Eredivise in May 2019. Indeed, since the start of last season, he’s just the third player to score at least 10 Premier League goals away from home after Erling Haaland and Harry Kane (both 16).
This was Roy Hodgson’s first league defeat at Selhurst Park since returning in April (P5 W3 D2 before today), while they’ve only won their first home league game of the season once in 11 Premier League seasons since 2013-14 (W1 D2 L8).
Bukayo Saka made his 82nd consecutive appearance for us in the Premier League this evening, equalling the club record in the competition set by Paul Merson between February 1995 and February 1997.
We have another capital clash on Saturday when Fulham head to Emirates Stadium in a traditional 3pm kick-off, and then eight days later Manchester United come to town on Sunday, September 3.
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