Mikel Arteta described Arsenal’s performance as “unacceptable” as their Champions League hopes took a major dent at Crystal Palace tonight.
The Eagles came into the contest bubbling with confidence after the 4-0 demolition of Everton to secure an FA Cup semi-final spot against Chelsea.
And Arsenal seemed unable to live with the energy and pressing game of the South Londoners as Patrick Vieira – a legend in that part of north London for his illustrious career for the Gunners – enjoyed an impressive 3-0 victory.
Jean-Philippe Mateta headed Palace in front with Joachim Andersen getting an assist for the first two goals, his pass then setting up Jordan Ayew to confidently finish with just 24 minutes on the clock.
Wilfried Zaha emphatically slammed home a second-half penalty.
The result moves Palace up to ninth in the table with Arsenal unable to regain fourth spot in the Premier League table from arch-rivals Tottenham.
Arsenal boss Arteta told Sky Sports: “Congratulations to Crystal Palace for winning the match, but we weren’t at the races today. We have given the ball away time after time and at that level it is just unacceptable.
“So we have to accept that today we were nowhere near our level – especially in the first half. And apologise to our supporters and take the challenge now.
“You can accept mistakes, that is part of football, but when you see the way we looked and that we didn’t have the presence, composure and commitment to dominate the situation…that is what I’m most annoyed with. I don’t know [why that was]. Sometimes you are not there and you are late all the time. They get on top of it and they get a good atmosphere. They get the first goal and the second goal and we got into that bubble where we could not get out in the first 40 minutes.
“When we had the big chances we didn’t score to give ourselves the chance to come back into the game.
“First we have to put our hand up, me as the coach the first one, and get the criticism that we deserve – because we were not good enough today – accept it, look in the mirror and tomorrow I start to prepare the next game – but knowing this is not good enough for this club.”
PICTURES: ROB AVIS