Yannick Bolasie was the hero as his late goal secured a point for Crystal Palace at Arsenal on Sunday.
Alexis Sanchez gave the home side the lead and the Gunners were on course to close the gap to leaders Leicester, but Bolasie had other ideas. In the 81st minute, he picked the ball up on the left, cut inside unchallenged and fired an effort past Petr Cech.
And yet, Alan Pardew has revealed that the Palace trickster was close to not even being on the pitch at the time.
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In his post-game interview, which you can watch below, the Palace boss admitted he was close to subbing Bolasie off because the Eagles already had a number of attacking players on the pitch.
Although that gives you an insight into Pardew’s mindset - trailing Arsenal 1-0 with less than 10 minutes to go, you would think having more attackers is important - the Englishman was left to reflect joyously on his decision to hold off making the substitution.
“It was a big goal," Pardew told Sky Sports. “He looked affected a little bit and I was thinking about taking him off, if I'm being honest, because we have a lot of offensive players.
"But he's so important to us and I thought one moment could lift him, and I think that moment will lift him because it was a great goal.
"You could argue that Petr [Cech] should save it, but it's a great hit and I'm so pleased for him. That will definitely give him a major boost."
Top four battle
Arsene Wenger acknowledged afterwards that his team’s title hopes are over, and that they now face a battle to finish in the top four.
The Gunners are currently fourth, behind Manchester City on goal difference, and ahead of Manchester United by just four points with five games remaining.
Two months ago, the north London side were in competition to win their first Premier League since 2004. Now, they face a five-game stretch that could determine Wenger’s future.
The Frenchman reflected: “Honestly after the game today I am not in that kind of mood to dream about the championship, I am more in the kind of mood to repair the mental damage and prepare for the next game,” per The Guardian.
“It is much more about that and to look behind us because everybody is playing well and winning games. For us it could be a fight until the end to get the place in the top four. If we can do more, we will do more but let’s not dream and focus on the next game.
“You have to sometimes win 1-0 and this was one of those days.”
Should Arsenal sack Arsene Wenger if they don't finish in the top four? Have your say in the comments section below!
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