A first half goal from Alexis Sánchez was cancelled out by Yannick Bolasie’s late equaliser as Crystal Palace won a point at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Other than reinstating Petr Čech, Arsène Wenger kept the same lineup that played at Upton Park last weekend after beating Everton and Watford. The goalkeeper was eased back into the side during a quiet opening 45 minutes.
On the ball and in the stands, the entire first half felt like an exhibition. Crystal Palace were happy to soak up pressure as Arsenal dominated possession with no cutting edge.
That only started to change at the end of the first half, when Mesut Özil combined nicely with Alexis Sánchez but saw his effort – Arsenal’s first on target – saved by Wayne Hennessey. Just a couple of minutes later, Alexis had his turn.
A nice moment of counter-pressing from Mohamed Elneny and Danny Welbeck saw the Gunners reclaim possession on the edge of the Palace area before the England forward dinked the ball to Alexis wonderfully. As Hennessey came off his line, the Chilean met the ball in the air and looped a header into the gaping goal.
Half-time and Arsenal were ahead without even breaking a sweat.
More effort seemed to go into the early stages of the second half with Danny Welbeck making more of an impact on the game. Arsenal couldn’t, however, double the lead with a Mesut Özil free-kick the closest we came.
The introduction of Emmanuel Adebayor livened up the crowd but, despite dominating, Arsenal couldn’t find a second goal. It was costly.
Caught on the break, Adebayor dragged the ball upfield before playing it back for the supporting Yannick Bolasie. The mercurial winger jinked inside and caught Petr Čech off guard with a low effort driven inside the near post. Under 10 minutes to go and the game was level.
A late Gabriel challenge ended a Wilfried Zaha run which had seen Laurent Koscielny beaten but that was to be the final half-sight of goal. Down to fourth this weekend and only three points clear of Manchester United, this is not how the season was supposed to end.