As Conor Gallagher sat despondent in the middle of the pitch, Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira walked over to offer a few words and pats of comfort and encouragement, to recognize the Chelsea youngster’s efforts in what was in the end another very frustrating day for their team.
Palace had just conceded a last-gasp equalizer from a corner to Arsenal, undoing 90+ minutes worth of excellent effort at the Emirates — a place that Vieira himself had helped build almost two decades ago, though never quite saw finished before his departure in 2005. It was the Eagles’ fifth (5th!) draw of the season already, most in the Premier League.
“It’s horrible, honestly, it’s so horrible. To come back from 1-0 down at Arsenal is great isn’t it? To hold on until the last 30 seconds is just horrible. We’re gutted.
“It feels worse than a defeat — if it’s possible. Nothing’s worse than thinking you’ve got three points and to have it taken away from you. We need to learn from little mistakes [...] take it on the chin and move on.”
-Conor Gallagher; source: Sky via Mail
Crystal Palace players can't believe it— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 18, 2021
Arsenal stole a point right at the end pic.twitter.com/4oL0yY8SEg
Arsenal scored early through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but from then on, the match belonged to the visitors — even if it took them until the second half to turn things around on the scoreboard. While Aaron Ramsdale was equal to Gallagher’s excellent effort in the dying moments of the first half, he could do nothing about unerring finishes from Christian Benteke in the 50th and Odsonne Édouard in the 73rd.
Gallagher, who played a key role throughout the match just as he has all season — and had to especially in this one, with Wilfried Zaha missing out — got the move started for the second goal, winning the ball in his own half, then leading the counter before playing to (former Chelsea prospect) Michael Olise, who’d give the ball to Édouard to spank it in viscerally off the underside of the crossbar.
While Palace still have only lost twice all season (only the current top four have fewer losses), they have also only won once (only the current bottom three have fewer wins). Eventually, they’ll have to turn these draws into wins, if they are to avoid relegation danger. But they’re certainly on the right track, and Gallagher continues to play a massive role in those aims — perhaps a trip up to Newcastle next weekend will do the trick.
Meanwhile, at the top, Chelsea are one point clear after eight games. One-fifth of the way there!