Arsenal 4 – 1 C Palace
Arsenal moved eight points clear at the top of the Premier League with a comfortable 4-1 victory over managerless Crystal Palace.
With Manchester City in FA Cup action on Saturday, the Gunners capitalised on the chance to extend their lead against a Palace side led by interim boss Paddy McCarthy after Patrick Vieira was sacked on Friday.
Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka both scored first-half goals but only after the visitors had come within a whisker of leading when Wilfried Zaha’s early effort came back off a post.
Granit Xhaka added a third shortly after the break to wrap up the points, but Palace, winless in their last 13 matches across all competitions, scored their first goal in five games when Jeffrey Schlupp turned in from close range at a corner.
Saka, though, netted his second and Arsenal’s fourth to pile the misery on Palace, who sit three points above the relegation zone.
Arsenal: Ramsdale (6); White (7), Holding (7), Gabriel (7), Zinchenko (7); Partey (7), Xhaka (8); Saka (9), Odegaard (8), Martinelli (8); Trossard (7).
Subs: Jesus (6), Tierney (7), Smith Rowe (n/a), Jorginho (n/a), Kiwior (n/a).
Crystal Palace: Whitworth (5); Ward (5), Tomkins (5), Guehi (5), Mitchell (5); Milivojevic (6), Doucoure (6), Schlupp (7); Olise (6), Edouard (6), Zaha (7).
Subs: Ayew (6), Hughes (6), Eze (n/a), Ahamada (n/a).
Player of the Match: Bukayo Saka
How Arsenal swept past Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace were forced into a late change with Joachim Andersen injured in the warm-up and replaced by James Tomkins, but they started fast and nearly led when Zaha was played in behind and sent a low shot off the left post. Odsonne Edouard was then released beyond the Arsenal defence although he was flagged offside after Aaron Ramsdale had saved when one-on-one.
It took Arsenal 18 minutes to have their first shot as teenager Joe Whitworth pushed away Martin Odegaard’s effort from the edge of the area.
The hosts were ramping up the pressure down Palace’s left and eventually, Saka crossed for Martinelli, who shifted the ball onto his left foot, gaining a yard on Joel Ward, before firing across Whitworth and into the bottom right corner for his sixth goal in as many Premier League matches.
- Gabriel Jesus started on the bench with William Saliba not in the Arsenal squad due to a back complaint. Rob Holding made his first Premier League start since the final day of last season. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Eddie Nketiah were also not in the matchday squad.
- Crystal Palace’s interim manager Paddy McCarthy made two changes from the side that were beaten 1-0 by Brighton in Patrick Vieira’s final game. Nathaniel Clyne dropped to the bench, replaced by Joel Ward, and Luka Milivojevic started instead of Albert Sambi Lokonga, who was ineligible to face his parent club.
- Nineteen-year-old goalkeeper Joe Whitworth retained his place in goal, only his second Premier League start in the continued absence of Vicente Guaita.
From then on Arsenal were in control. Odegaard rolled a shot wide of the right post before Saka added the second. Ben White slipped him in, with the winger drifting behind Mitchell inside the area before slotting into the corner.
Zaha stung the palms of Ramsdale as Palace threatened to mount a comeback early in the second half but soon Xhaka bundled home from close range to seal the points inside 55 minutes.
Schlupp gave the travelling support something to celebrate when he turned in from close range at a corner and things might have been made interesting had Zaha not rolled the ball inches wide from an angle with over 15 minutes to play.
Saka made sure there would be no late drama, bending home from substitute Kieran Tierney’s pull-back to cap a fine afternoon.
Arsenal continue their title quest when they host relegation-threatened Leeds on Saturday April 1 at 3pm. They then head to Liverpool on Sunday April 9, live on Sky Sports.
When Crystal Palace return after the March international break, their next six fixtures are against teams below them in the table. The last time the Eagles played a team below them in the league was against Bournemouth on New Year’s Eve in 2022, which was Vieira’s last win in charge.
Palace face relegation rivals Leicester at home on Saturday April 1 at 3pm before heading to Leeds on Sunday April 9. More big games follow at Southampton and then at home to Everton.
Duncan Ferguson: I wouldn’t leave Forest Green for Everton or Real Madrid | Football News
Duncan Ferguson spent years as part of the backroom staff under several managers at Everton.
On two occasions he also took charge of the club on a caretaker basis, but was overlooked for the job permanently last season in favour of Frank Lampard.
Now, at 51, he has struck out on his own, and in January he took on his first permanent managerial role in charge of Forest Green in League One.
It has not been an easy start. There have been just two points collected from his first nine games in charge. Rovers lie bottom of the third tier, and are heading back towards League Two at the first time of asking after winning promotion last season.
But Ferguson was handed a five-and-a-half year contract by owner Dale Vince, and he is committed to building the club in the long-term.
Here, he spoke to Sky Sports pundit and former Everton team-mate Andy Hinchcliffe about not getting the Toffees job, his aims for Forest Green and more…
On his disappointment at not getting the Everton job
“I was considered for it. I went for an interview but I was unsuccessful, unfortunately. That was disappointing because you obviously want to be the manager of the club that you love and I felt like I deserved a chance at that and to take the team through to the end of the season.
“But the club brought in Frank Lampard, a man I have a lot of respect for. And to be fair he steadied the ship and helped the club avoid relegation.
“I was disappointed I wasn’t given that chance, but it is what it is. The club made a decision and it was the right one.”
On his long-term plans for Forest Green, and trying to attract Messi!
“I’m not sure I needed convincing but [me and the owner] definitely needed to have a chat about where the club was going, and what he saw as the vision of the club. Obviously it’s come a long way in the last four or five years.
“When I spoke to him I liked him right away. My first impressions were good and he told me where he wants the club to go. He offered me a long contract, and that showed his confidence in me.
“Obviously things aren’t going too well for us right now, and we might have to take a step back, but hopefully we’ll come forward again. We want to be in the Championship. That’s the aim. It’s where we want to be, and where I want to be as coach.
“If you’ve got strong views on the environment you might want to come here. I wonder if Messi has strong views on the environment! He could come here, couldn’t he.”
On his commitment to the club
“I love Everton, but I’m at Forest Green. The owner knows I’m a man of my word, and I’ve told him I won’t be going anywhere unless he tells me. And that’s it.
“It doesn’t matter if Everton come in for me tomorrow, or Real Madrid come in for me next week. I will not be leaving this club. That’s an absolute fact.
“He showed faith in bringing me to the club and he gave me a big contract. He showed that loyalty to me, and I’ll show that loyalty back to him.”
On Everton’s relegation battle and Dyche
“I thought Frank was one of the best I’ve ever worked with. He was absolutely fantastic, and his presentations and the way he spoke to players was the best I’ve ever seen.
“Obviously I keep an eye on the results and it looks like Sean is pulling it around. I can see why Everton went for him. He’s been there and done it.
“He’s got that experience. He’ll set them up how he thinks is right. He’s got a few good results recently and I’m sure Everton will be safe this season.”
Jim Crawford: Republic of Ireland U21s boss angered after ‘uneducated’ trolls racially abuse U15 players | Football News
Republic of Ireland U21s boss Jim Crawford has hit out at the “uneducated” trolls who sent “unacceptable” online abuse to members of the country’s U15s squad.
The Football Association of Ireland has condemned the attacks on multiple platforms, which came after the U15s boys’ team’s back-to-back 6-0 victories over Latvia earlier this week, as “vile and horrific” and is working with police and social media companies to identify and deal with those responsible.
Crawford, who was preparing his team for Sunday’s friendly against Iceland in Cork when the news broke, could not contain his anger.
He said: “I just want to get it out there that there’s certainly no place for racism in sport, in society.
“It comes from a minority, it comes from uneducated people and it comes from social media platforms where people can disguise their names, their identity. The unfortunate thing is that they have a platform.
“To hear that this morning, it just makes you angry. I just think it’s time that we all just work together on this and stamp it out because it’s unacceptable.”
The incident comes at a time when Stephen Kenny’s Ireland squad, which will face France in a Euro 2024 qualifier on Monday evening, mirrors the country’s diversity, with striker Chiedozie Ogbene, the first African-born player to represent the nation at senior level, Andrew Omobamidele and Adam Idah all of Nigerian heritage.
Crawford added: “These same people will be cheering goals if Chieo scores, Adam Idah scores, do you know what I mean?
“I just don’t know. Well, I do know. They’re ignorant, they’re uneducated, but they have to hide behind these fake accounts.
“It goes for racism, bullying and I do think social media companies have got to do something about this. They’ve got to do it because certain people think it’s a laugh and a joke, but it’s not, it’s a lot deeper than that.”
An emotional Crawford continued: “I’ve worked in the FAI now a long time and I know the work that development officers do on the ground, getting into schools, putting on Show Racism the Red Card programmes, and I’ve been involved in that myself.
“It’s something that I’m very strong about and every school I’ve been to, I’ve got the buy-in. But it’s just the minority, you know? It’s just a minority.
“I’ve run so many programmes with black kids loving football, and then I hear this goes on, you know?”
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Tommy Fury open to Jake Paul rematch and blames Oleksandr Usyk for collapse of Tyson Fury fight | Boxing News
Tommy Fury is open to a rematch with Jake Paul and says Tyson Fury is not to blame for the Oleksandr Usyk fight being called off.
The 23-year-old beat YouTuber-turned-boxer Paul in a split-decision fight on February 26 in Saudi Arabia, and, speaking on Soccer AM, Fury said he is open to a rematch.
He said: “I’m down for a rematch. I will fight him tomorrow. Does he want it? I’m not so sure. The next fight I will take will be bigger than Jake Paul.”
Tommy was also asked about his brother, after plans for Tyson to fight Usyk for all four major heavyweight titles imploded, and he thinks the fight will happen at some stage.
“Having somebody who is the best in the world and in my opinion the best to ever do it, having him there is a privilege,” he said.
“He [Tyson Fury] does not like Usyk at the minute. There is a lot of politics in boxing. The reason why this fight isn’t getting made isn’t down to Tyson at all.
“He will fight any man, he doesn’t fear any man, especially not a cruiserweight who can’t do anything anyway. He is too small. It’s not Tyson’s fault. All these fights will happen, but it takes a while to get made.”
Tommy also added that the Paul fight was difficult because of the untraditional style of the 26-year-old.
“It’s difficult because he is a big, strong man, but I knew there was nothing he can do. Anybody can go in there and fight,” he said.
“I’d sooner fight a legit experienced fighter because it would be easier. Fighting guys like that who are erratic and throwing punches from different angles, they don’t know what they are doing, and it makes them awkward. It’s a difficult challenge, but I got him with the sweet science.
“It was very frustrating because there were two setbacks and two cancelled fights. All that time when it looked like it was my fault because I knew I could beat him.
“When everything was getting made and said, there was a bit of pressure. On the night, I didn’t feel anything because there comes a certain stage where it just gets too big.”
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