THE NOTEBOOK: Arsenal welcomed title-winning royalty to the Emirates

THE NOTEBOOK: Arsenal welcomed title-winning royalty to the Emirates as Bukayo Saka’s brace took the current lot closer to glory, while the visiting Crystal Palace fans let off flares before kick-off to start match under a haze

  • Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 4-1 on Sunday afternoon to go eight points clear 
  • Bukayo Saka scored twice to take the Gunners closer to Premier League glory 
  • Crystal Palace fans set off firecrackers and flares before kick-off at the Emirates 

Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon gave them an eight-point cushion at the top of the Premier League going into the international break.

Bukayo Saka secured a brace as the Gunners controlled the London derby from beginning to end, with Gabriel Martinelli and Granit Xhaka also scoring for the hosts.

Meanwhile, the visiting Eagles were helmed by stand-in boss Paddy McCarthy after Patrick Vieira’s dismissal on Friday. They got a consolation at 3-0 through Jeff Schlupp, but it did little to change the direction of the game.  

Arsenal welcomed previous title-winners back to the Emirates to celebrate with fans at half-time, and the current crop made an important step towards joining them.

Here, Sportsmail’s Daniel Matthews highlights some of the stories you might have missed from Arsenal 4 – 1 Crystal Palace:  

Bukayo Saka’s brace guided Arsenal to a comfortable 4-1 home win over Crystal Palace

Those who bought a programme would have read what felt like an obituary of Patrick Vieira

Programme hailed ‘The Boss’ who wasn’t there

Ah, the perils of printing a pre-match programme. In Sunday’s edition, Arsenal provided a scouting report on Crystal Palace that included a profile of ‘The Boss’: Patrick Vieira. 

Given he was sacked post going to print, it read more like an obituary. Slightly unfortunate, if unavoidable. Arsenal’s supporters offered some support to their former captain, chanting the name of Vieira from the first minute yesterday. Among those listening in the posh seats? Palace chairman Steve Parish.

P.S. A word on Vieira’s interim replacement Paddy McCarthy. It’s always interesting to note the sartorial choices of a new boss. For those interested, McCarthy opted for the club tracksuit. Head to toe.

The matchday programme for Crystal Palace was printed before Vieira’s sacking on Friday

Vieira’s interim replacement Paddy McCarthy came dressed head-to-toe in the club tracksuit

Ben White will surely get another England chance 

Simple maths and pecking orders – that was the party line from Gareth Southgate when asked about Ben White’s omission from this England squad. The right back hasn’t represented his country since leaving last year’s World Cup for ‘personal reasons’. 

That will surely change soon – should he keep playing like this, anyway. This was a tremendous display from White, who was given a standing ovation as he left the pitch late on. 

The 25-year-old had set up Arsenal’s second goal for Bukayo Saka; after half-time he roared with supporters after a scything challenge on Wilfried Zaha and a crunching clearance away from Tyrick Mitchell.

His substitution prompted an interesting experiment from Mikel Arteta. The absence of Takehiro Tomiyasu, who picked up an injury in midweek, leaves Arsenal with only one recognised right back (White).

Late on here, Arteta shifted Thomas Partey out to that flank. He has played there before, albeit not for Arsenal. Planning for the worst, perhaps.

If he continues to play like this for Arsenal, it is inevitable Ben White will be back for England

Palace’s flares and firecrackers made goal seem tame

The early minutes of this clash were played amid a haze of smoke and the smell of burning after Crystal Palace supporters decided the best time to let off flares and firecrackers was ahead of kick-off.

All of which meant their celebrations of Jeffrey Schlupp’s second-half goal were rather tame by comparison.

But you can understand any reluctance to keep their powder dry: Palace still haven’t won in 2023. They hadn’t scored for more than a month before this.

Crystal Palace fans set off flares ahead of kick-off, which made goal celebrations feel tamer

Partey skies free-kick despite club’s specialist coach 

There was something strangely comforting about Arsenal’s tactics from a free-kick shortly before half-time. White stood over the ball on halfway and looked in search of options. He feigned a few passes and pivoted around the ball to change angles. Nothing obvious presented itself. So his team-mates went on the move; the referee urged White to hurry up. Eventually, though, the defender gave up and gestured to Partey to take over. The midfielder came off a long run-up and simply smashed the ball towards the skies.

This is a club, remember, that boasts a specialist set-piece coach. Good to know they can still be as agricultural as Islington’s Sunday League finest.

Despite the club’s use of a specialist set-piece coach, Thomas Partey skied a free-kick high

Arsenal’s half-time guests were title-winning royalty

Arsenal paraded some club royalty at half-time: Pat Rice, Bob Wilson, George Graham and Frank McLintock were all welcomed on to the Emirates pitch. They all know the feeling of winning the title with Arsenal.

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