Gunners end three-game losing streak with a bang but dual injury scares tarnish bumper victory
Central defender Gabriel Magalhaes has helped Arsenal solve their scoring problems as the Gunners ended a three-game losing streak in all competitions with a 5-0 win over Crystal Palace in the Premier League.
The Gunners’ resurgence came on a day when Brentford welcomed the return of star striker Ivan Toney after an eight-month exile, as he scored in a thrilling 3-2 win oiver Nottingham Forest.
But the win for Arsenal has potentially come at a cost with Gabriel suffering a knee injury and Declan Rice also subbed off with a muscle strain.
“(Rice) was feeling some tightness,” said Gunners manager Mikel Arteta. “I don’t know what muscle it was. But when he says that at 3-0 then obviously we don’t want to take any risks.
“The same with big Gabi. He had some discomfort from a tackle in the first-half and he was struggling a bit, so it was the right moment to take him off the field.”
Having seen Arsenal’s forwards waste a slew of chances during their recent skid, Gabriel took matters into his own hands in the first half at Emirates Stadium in Saturday’s early kick-off.
The Brazil international first headed in a corner in the 11th minute and then forced an own goal by Palace goalkeeper Dean Henderson from another set piece delivery in the 37th.
“The reality is that we trained set pieces less in the last week than other aspects of the game,” said Arteta. “This is the beauty of it.
“But we worked on a lot of things that actually happened and we trained them a lot. Really pleased with the clean sheet first, which is something that we’ve been lacking to win games with the amount of goals scores.
“And sharing the goals as well which I think is going to make a big impact on the team.”
Leandro Trossard added the third after a quick counter-attack in the 59th before substitute Gabriel Martinelli finished off the rout with two near-identical goals in stoppage time.
It enabled Arsenal to climb above Aston Villa into third in the Premier League standings, with Mikel Arteta’s team cutting the gap to leaders Liverpool to two points ahead of the Reds’ game at Bournemouth on Sunday.
Arsenal’s inability to turn their dominance into goals had cost them dearly in recent losses to West Ham and Fulham in the league, and Liverpool in the FA Cup, so it came as a relief to the home crowd when Gabriel met a perfectly delivered corner from Declan Rice with a well-taken header in the 11th minute.
In the day’s later game, Toney, who has been banned from football since May for breaching betting rules, got back on the scoresheet for the first time in 267 days in Brentford’s win.
Named captain for the day, Toney struck with an audacious free-kick to cancel out Danilo’s opener for Forest and thrust himself back into the spotlight for the right reasons.
Ben Mee headed Brentford in front but Chris Wood equalised before Toney’s strike partner Neal Maupay found the net as Brentford celebrated their talisman’s comeback with a much-needed win after five successive Premier League defeats.
Not that this was ever likely to be a low-key return. There was even a digital billboard over the road from the Gtech Stadium flashing up a picture of Toney and the words ‘he’s back’.
The message was not wrong.