Roy Hodgson made two changes in his penultimate game in charge of Crystal Palace. Vicente Guaita was back in goal, replacing Jack Butland. The injured Eberechi Eze was replaced by James Tomkins in the XI.
Whiles Arsenal also made two changes. Pablo Mari and Martin Odegaard dropped to the bench, with Callum Chambers and Nicolas Pepe back in the XI.
Both sides had openings in the first ten minutes. Vicente Guaita was forced into a stretching save as Calum Chambers’ cross searched for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the middle. Smith Rowe then attempted something similar, this time aiming for Bukayo Saka, but no one was able to turn it home. At the other end, Gary Cahill sent a header just wide of the post.
Arsenal scored with their only shot on target as Pepe (35) superbly turned home Kieran Tierney’s cross.
Palace survived two first-half VAR checks for red cards too. The first came inside five minutes as Schlupp was checked after a challenge on Chambers, but came away with a booking. It was a similar story for Benteke towards the end of the half after catching Mohamed Elneny in the chin with his elbow, but after a brief melee, it was a yellow card apiece for the pair.
Arsenal looked content to ride out the second half but, after a few near misses, Christian Benteke Arsenal are ninth on 58 points, one behind Tottenham and West Ham in sixth and seventh respectively. If they fail to secure European football on the final day of the season, they would be without a European spot for the first time in 25 years.
The opening 15 minutes of the second half was a mostly quiet affair as Arsenal looked to preserve their lead, but their defences were breached just after the hour. Townsend delivered another fine free-kick and Benteke peeled away before leaping a header past Leno. VAR checked it for a foul from the striker in the build-up, but the goal stood.
Arsenal created very little after the equaliser but, scrambled the ball home late on as Martinelli (90+1) steered Martin Odegaard’s pass over the line.
Arsenal then took the lead soon after with some sensational play from Saka and Tierney down the left. It included a sublime backheel from Saka to send Tierney into space for a cross, which Pepe (90+5) turned home wonderfully with his first touch.
Pepe’s winning goal gave Arsenals a vital three points, they still face an uphill battle to secure a European place next season.
Crystal Palace’s final Premier League game of the season – and Hodgson’s last game in charge – will be a trip to Liverpool on Sunday. Arsenal host Brighton in their last shot at a potential European finish. All Premier League games on Sunday will kick-off at 4pm.
Nicolas Pepe emerges as Man of the match
The Arsenal forward has not always shown his best, but he was key for his team when they need a creative spark. His first goal was well taken and once made a driving run at the Palace defense, it resulted in another good goal. Both of his shots on target in the game resulted in goals and he was also involved in the most duels (14) of the Arsenal team.
Also Read: Chelsea and Leicester players clashed at the end of their Premier League game as the Blues secured a vital 2-1 victory over their Champions League rivals
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