Crisis, what crisis?
Arsenal revived their title hopes with a brutal 5-0 victory over Crystal Palace this afternoon, the Gunners ending their four-game winless run in all competitions in fine fashion to move just two points behind leaders Liverpool.
For all the talk surrounding the need for a new striker this month, it was a defender who popped up to make his mark on proceedings, with Gabriel Magalhaes nodding home early on past a helpless Dean Henderson to put any early nerves to bed.
The Brazilian then played a crucial role in the home side adding a second of the day with the ball ricocheting in off the sprawling Palace ‘keeper, with the points then well and truly wrapped after the break courtesy of a brace from Gabriel Martinelli and a fourth Premier League goal of the season for Leandro Trossard.
Much of the plaudits will go the way of Man of the Match, Gabriel for his early involvement, although the former Lille man wasn’t alone in having dazzled against the Eagles…
Gabriel’s performance in numbers vs Palace
There will be concerns among Mikel Arteta and his staff after the towering centre-back was forced off late on with a potential injury issue, although prior to that the 26-year-old “aerial monster” – as described by data analyst Ben Mattinson – was at his brilliant best.
Not only involved heavily in the opening two goals, the £100k-per-week titan also helped to keep the visitors at bay with a dominant defensive performance at the other end of the pitch, winning eight duels in total as Jean-Philippe Mateta and co hardly had a sniff in attack.
The 6 foot 3 powerhouse also made five clearances and earned three fouls for his side as a marker of his all-round display, while also enjoying a pass accuracy rate of 88% as he offered a typically composed presence at the heart of the backline.
As football.london’s Kaya Kaynak noted, the Sao Paulo native ‘continues to be such a threat from set pieces [while] being a colossus at the back’, having proven that isn’t just teammate William Saliba who is worthy of the plaudits.
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The 24-year-old could anchor the Gunners’ defence for a decade.
Of course, special mention should also be reserved for Martinelli following his remarkable cameo off the bench, although it was summer signing, David Raya who particularly caught the eye in the sticks.
David Raya’s statistics vs Palace
There have been times when many might have questioned the decision to usurp Aaron Ramsdale by bringing in the Spaniard on loan from Brentford, with club icon Ray Parlour even telling Football FanCast that Raya isn’t an “upgrade” on the England international.
With a handful of shaky showings thus far – including his two glaring errors in the narrow win over Luton Town – the 28-year-old hasn’t always looked the most convincing, yet arguably produced ‘one of his best performances in an Arsenal shirt’, according to the Standard’s Simon Collings, if not the best of his spell at the Emirates so far.
Despite a nervy moment early on in which the one-time Blackburn Rovers man squandered possession, his distribution was particularly “superb” – as per Arsenal content creator James B – notably playing a key role in the game’s third goal after picking out Gabriel Jesus with an expert throw.
What made that display all the more impressive was the fact that the Barcelona-born shot-stopper – who earned an 8/10 match rating from Collings – also looked almost impenetrable in his own net, making five saves in total en route to a well-deserved clean sheet.
The 6 foot star notably kept out a fierce late free-kick from one-time Gunners youth asset, Eberechi Eze to truly squash any hope of a late fight-back from the away side, with such a performance providing the foundation for those ahead of him to build on.
On a day in which Arteta’s side as a whole potentially answered some critics, Raya, in particular, seemingly quietened the doubters by showcasing exactly what he was brought in to do.