James Olley

Senior Writer, ESPN FC

LONDON -- Befitting of Patrick Vieira's go back to Arsenal, this honestly need to were settled in midfield.

Vieira turned into a colossus withinside the Gunners' engine room for 9 years, and for lengthy spells on Monday night, his Crystal Palace aspect have been the higher group in imperative regions of the pitch to an quantity they deserved to go away Emirates Stadium with a win. Substitute Alexandre Lacazette's stoppage-time equaliser rescued a factor for Arsenal in an exciting 2-2 draw however the Frenchman's lively cameo simplest in part mask the problems that got here before.

Mikel Arteta has been eager to defer judgement on his control till his reshaped squad is completely to be had to him, however simplest Granit Xhaka is presently sidelined with a knee harm till the New Year. Arteta perspectives Xhaka as a key issue of his midfield, however there were symptoms and symptoms he desires to transfer to a greater dynamic 4-three-three form for a few time, and that formation turned into used right here for the primary time on account that ultimate month's 1-zero win at Burnley.

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Thomas Partey's deployment as the only pivot turned into in element primarily based totally upon being capable of drop into the returned 4 greater effortlessly to cope with Palace's aerial threat. It additionally allowed Arteta to feature some other attack-minded participant into an offensive lineup with Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe gambling as No. 8s in the back of a the front 3 of Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka.

With the ball, it regarded colourful early on, in particular as Arsenal raced into an eighth-minute lead. Pepe exchanged passes with Takehiro Tomiyasu and curled a left-foot shot at goal, which Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita did nicely to palm extensive. But Aubameyang did even higher to react quickly, turning the ball in with a clever end from a good angle.

However, Arsenal have been interestingly passive thereafter and with out the ball, Partey turned into isolated. Palace's extensive players -- Conor Gallagher and Odsonne Edouard -- drifted in off the flanks to outnumber Partey in midfield, occupying area in the back of Odegaard and Smith Rowe to show and run on the Gunners' returned 4.

It turned into a hassle Arteta inadvertently sought to rectify at half-time, changing the injured Saka with Albert Sambi Lokonga and shifting to some thing in the direction of the vintage 4-2-three-1, however the stability turned into nevertheless incorrect and Palace capitalised.