Emery error: The 68th-min Arsenal substitution that would have prevented Palace loss – opinion

Arsenal’s hopes of finishing in the top four suffered a big blow as they were beaten 3-2 by Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The Gunners came into the clash with their London rivals with a brilliant record on their own patch this term, but like Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium earlier in the campaign the Eagles secured a brilliant and unlikely away victory.

Much was made of the starting line-up as Carl Jenkinson, Shkodran Mustafi, Matteo Guendouzi and Mohamed Elneny all started the clash against Roy Hodgson’s men, and it did prove to be a factor with Mustafi in particular at fault for Wilfried Zaha’s second for the visitors.

Trailing 2-1 at that stage Emery decided to bring Lucas Torreira on for Mohamed Elneny in the 68th minute, but just a minute later they found themselves with a two-goal cushion to make up when James McArthur netted.

It was hardly a substitution that would have sparked fear into Palace even if Arsenal already had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Alex Iwobi on the pitch.

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With Eddie Nketiah and Henrikh Mkhitaryan still on the bench and with the Gunners having nothing to lose as they chased an equaliser, the Spaniard’s decision to bring on a defensively-minded midfielder instead was confusing.

Indeed, it was Mkhitaryan who should have replaced Elneny prior to the Eagles scoring their third.

Despite his inconsistencies he is a player that can make a difference in the final third for his team whether it comes in the form of goals or chances created, and he is someone that would have put the Hodgson’s visitors on the back foot again and boosted a frustrated home crowd.

Emery has enjoyed a pretty decent first season at the helm, but this was another lesson to be learned for the former Sevilla man ahead of next season.

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