Arsenal v Crystal Palace: The talking points

WENGER SHOULD SIGN AN ALTERNATIVE TO CAZORLA

Arsenal's lethargy before Alexis Sanchez broke the deadlock just before half-time demonstrated how much they have missed Santi Cazorla during the Spaniard's long absence with a knee injury. With Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny struggling to offer drive and invention in central midfield, Palace's stifling approach worked even though they fell behind.

Arsenal lack someone to set the tempo without Cazorla, whose quick passing and clever movement would surely have caused more problems. He has not played since  Nov 29 and the issue has been compounded by Jack Wilshere's slow return to fitness.

While Arsene Wenger has identified the tough Borussia Moenchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka as a key target, his interest in Borussia Dortmund's Henrikh Mkhitaryan also makes sense.


BOLASIE PROVES HE IS THE MAIN MAN AGAIN

Palace had not really been banging on the door before Yannick Bolasie drove the equaliser past Petr Cech but at least it was an improved display from Palace after the break. That was partly because Bolasie was back in his favourite position, troubling Arsenal's full-backs with his pace and trickery, and he made it 1-1 when he cut inside from the left and beat Cech.

Pardew should resist the temptation to use Bolasie as a striker. It did not work at West Ham on April 2 either and he is far more effective as a winger. His goal means that Palace, nine points clear of Sunderland with four games to play, are almost safe.


GABRIEL STILL HAS WEAKNESSES TO IRON OUT

There was no return for Per Mertesacker, even though Gabriel Paulista was beaten in the air by Andy Carroll in the 3-3 draw with West Ham last weekend.

The view is that Gabriel has a big future in the centre of Arsenal's defence and will acclimatise to the physicality of English football only with more playing time. But perhaps the Brazilian is learning.

Although he was guilty of slack marking at one Palace free kick in the first half, he did just about enough to make Connor Wickham miss a free header.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2016, with the headline 'Arsenal v Crystal Palace: The talking points'. Print Edition | Subscribe