Yannick Bolasie scored a late equaliser for Crystal Palace as they secured a 1-1 draw with Arsenal to all-but end the Gunners’ title hopes.
Alexis Sanchez headed the hosts in front in the first-half, but Bolasie’s long-range attempt brought the drab game level with 10 minutes remaining.
The hosts dominated possession – having almost 90% of the ball in the first 10 minutes – without managing to turn their first-half dominance into chances.
A number of crosses were sent into the Palace penalty area without anyone getting on the end of them, as the Gunners midfield – camped on the edge of the box – failed to break down Alan Pardew’s stubborn defence.
For all their control, it was the visitors who had the first real chance, Scott Dann heading wide of the recalled Petr Cech’s goal from a corner.
It was one of Palace’s rare forays into Arsenal’s half, and as the opening period drew to a close, the Gunners turned up the pressure on the tired-looking Eagles.
Mohamed Elneny fired over from long-range, before Sanchez’s free-kick – won from a Dann foul on Danny Welbeck – deflected off the wall wide for a corner.
Two minutes before the break, the game livened up, with Mesut Ozil forcing a top class save from Wayne Hennessey to prevent the hosts taking the lead.
A pinpoint pass from Sanchez cut open the Palace centre-backs, although the German playmaker couldnt get the power on the shot he would have wanted.
However, the miss did not matter, as Arsenal took the lead just moments later.
Connor Wickham had the chance to score a surprising opener for the Eagles, heading over a Yohan Cabaye free-kick, before Sanchez converted a looping header over Hennessey in first-half injury time.
Mile Jedinak was pressured when in possession on the edge of his box by three players, including Welbeck. The England striker won the ball in the scuffle, moving forward, and playing a lovely chipped pass into the area.
Sanchez had predicted the flight of the ball, and he met the pass perfectly with his head, leaving Welsh international Hennessey with no chance in goal.
The second period started in the same manner as the first, with Palace sitting off an Arsenal team willing to hold possession while making occasional attempts to grab a second.
Francis Coquelin put a header wide, Welbeck’s near post attempt was saved, and Ozil curled a free-kick just wide of the right-hand post, although there was a distinct lack of urgency from the Gunners.
Pardew looked to inject some attacking intent after 63 minutes, bringing on Emmanuel Adebayor for Wickham to a chorus of boos, but his first action was clearing the ball from his own area after Hennessey had saved from Welbeck’s close-range attempt.
Sanchez, who was the key attacking threat, twice had the opportunity to double the lead with his head, flashing one opportunity past the near post, before the next chance flew just past the far post, failing to curl past the impressive Hennessey.
Bakary Sako finally recorded Palace’s first chance of the second half after 75 minutes, flicking a header towards goal, for Cech to tip over the bar.
The game appeared to be slowing down, both teams content with the result, but a rare attack from the visitors got them level.
Adebayor held the ball up on the edge of the box, waiting until Bolasie caught up with him. The Congolese winger took possession, cutting onto his right foot and drilling a low shot towards the near post.
It was a powerful attempt, but Cech was covering the post, and he let the ball through his hand as he dived to save. He really should have done better to keep the shot out, but his mistake drew the Eagles level.
Gabriel headed straight at Hennessey as Arsenal looked to take back the lead, and recover their title hopes, but the visitors defended resolutely, leaving the Emirates with a point ahead of their FA Cup semi-final clash against Watford next weekend.
The result leaves Arsene Wenger’s men 13 points behind first placed Leicester, with 15 to play for, while their top four chances have also come into question, as Manchester United sit just four points behind.
Source: Talk Sport