Unai Emery fears Arsenal blew a big opportunity in the Premier League’s top four race by losing 3-2 at home to Crystal Palace.
Christian Benteke, Wilfried Zaha and James McArthur all found the net as Palace stunned Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, hindering the Gunners’ chances of Champions League qualification.
Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck for Arsenal but the Gunners never looked like pulling off any kind of rescue act, leaving manager Emery counting the cost in defeat.
“It was very frustrating because it was a big opportunity,” said Emery.
“But we’ve had plenty of big opportunities before today, plenty of key moments, that give us the opportunity to achieve our first target, to play in the Champions League next year.
“But yes, today we lost a big opportunity. It doesn’t change our idea or plan for the next match. It’s in our hands. I still have confidence though and I want to be positive.
“Because we have been working hard to be in this key moment with the chance to finish in the top four.
“We can be proud of the whole season. Today we’re frustrated but tomorrow we have to stand up and prepare for Wednesday’s trip to Wolves.”
Shkodran Mustafi produced a string of mistakes on a day to forget in the Easter sun in north London, but boss Emery refused to lay the blame at the feet of the Germany defender.
Emery said: “We cannot speak about the player usually. I prefer to speak about the consistency in the season.
“And today also against players like Benteke, Zaha, you can suffer more than in different situations. If we were better in set-pieces we could win this match.
“And also if we could control possession especially in the attacking third. We didn’t find the best situation to take more chances. I think Mustafi has been consistent (across the season).”
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Tottenham are increasingly confident that star midfielder Christian Eriksen will sign a new deal at the club, according to reports.
The 27-year-old has been linked with a summer exit, with Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Manchester United all said to be interested in securing the Denmark man’s services.
Eriksen’s current contract runs out next summer, and negotiations between club and player had seemingly stalled as Europe’s biggest clubs circled around the current Premier League season’s joint-assist leader.
However, Goal report that the club expects former Ajax star Eriksen to sign a new deal that will double the Dane’s £75,000-per-week wage, which will bring him on par with midfielder Dele Alli, who signed a new contract in October.
Eriksen has been instrumental in Tottenham’s success in recent seasons, and the club were reluctant to lose out on such a key player.
At 27, the player is set to enter his prime, and Tottenham, who are locked in a battle to secure a top-four spot and Champions League qualification that comes with it, want the Dane to help take the club further in the next few seasons.
Christian Benteke’s first goal in almost a year helped Crystal Palace sink Arsenal 3-2 and put a huge dent in the Gunners’ Premier League top-four hopes.
Benteke fired his first goal in 20 games then laid on another for the tricky Wilfried Zaha as the Eagles stunned the Emirates Stadium to claim their eighth league win on the road this term.
James McArthur’s header sealed a fine victory that ended Arsenal’s 10-match winning league run at home – and threw a spanner in the works in the Gunners’ bid for a top-four finish.
Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck for Arsenal, but those goals seemed little other than afterthoughts for Unai Emery’s rudderless hosts.
Arsenal remain fourth in the table but are only ahead of fifth-placed Chelsea on goal difference, with Manchester United two points behind in sixth.
Shokdran Mustafi endured a day to forget, the Germany defender producing a string of mistakes which ultimately help gift Palace their win.
Benteke’s first goal since Palace’s 5-0 win over Leicester on April 28, 2018 kick-started a fine Eagles performance, with Roy Hodgson’s men holding out for a hugely-impressive win.
Palace now boast the league’s sixth-best record on the road, Arsenal joining the likes of Manchester City and Wolves in finding no answers to the Eagles on the road.
Arsenal were booed off the field at half-time and rightly so.
The listless Gunners deserved to trail at the break, with Palace producing a measured away performance.
Mesut Ozil side-footed wide in an early opening but the Gunners conjured precious few genuine chances after that.
Martin Kelly flicked over when he should have opened the scoring after Scott Dann’s header into the six-yard box.
Arsenal failed to heed that warning however, and paid the price when Mustafi let Benteke stroll into the box unmarked and head home.
The German defender wrongly thought Benteke offside, and rather than play to the whistle appealed in vain – while the Eagles’ Belgian hitman coasted into position and then nodded home.
Benteke had a second effort chalked off for offside after Zaha’s fine through-ball as Palace continued to press.
And the visitors probably should have doubled their lead before the break, with Cheikhou Kouyate forcing a double save from Bernd Leno, then Benteke blasting over from Zaha’s fine tee-up.
Arsenal emerged transformed after the break, Ozil levelling almost immediately.
The Germany star ghosted onto Alexandre Lacazette’s deft reverse ball and crashed in at the near post.
Palace rallied though, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles had to rescue Mustafi after the German’s missed header had gifted Zaha a run on goal.
The hapless Mustafi’s next mistake cost Arsenal dear however, as Zaha raced onto Benteke’s flick and slotted home.
Mustafi could only watch on as Zaha wriggled round him to stroll through on goal, the Gunners man incorrectly expecting goalkeeper Leno to race out and mop up.
Palace refused to relent or wilt in the sunshine, and bolstered their lead when McArthur nodded home from a corner.
Aubameyang netted a neat second for Arsenal to tee up a tense finish, trading passes with Lacazette before prodding home. But there was to be no recovery, Hodgson’s men deservedly holding out.
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