Although Patrick Viera was not there, Arsenal displayed the same assertive run-in performance as his title wins as an athlete. This might make this race even more interesting as the leaders are getting better at it.
This win over Crystal Palace was the second consecutive league match in which Arsenal had defeated awkward opposition and had still managed to claim three points by half-time.
This is what can win titles. It shows no hesitation when doubts and nerves could possibly seep in. These seemingly easy games can easily turn into long and stressful events. Arsenal, however, has the confidence of an 8-point lead with one more game than Manchester City.
Their Europa League elimination did not seem to have any negative effects or matter much. Gabriel Martinelli's decisive penalty miss against Sporting Lisbon was followed by the strike that set them off, a beautifully swung finish that reflected a step forward in form.
Vieira's sacking did not result in any pick-up, which is surprising considering the nature of a trip like this. They still look like a team that has lost faith in its defense and lacks any plan of attack.
They are still 12th, but this isn't the same as it was in previous seasons. The gap between the top and bottom is only four points, with only three to 18th. This is the lowest point in the season.
Paddy McCarthy, the caretaker, had a difficult time getting this for his first game. But they now need more certainty and more of an idea. It remains to be seen if Roy Hodgson will be there. It might become increasingly difficult for Palace to remain in the Premier League.
Ironically, it looked at first like their attackers were enjoying being freed. Vieira's main criticism was that the future approach wasn't sophisticated or modern.
Wilfried Zaha was absent from this game, but Odsonne Edouard and Odsonne Zaha both enjoyed the freedom to race at Arsenal in the early stages, with only one shot hitting a post and Aaron Ramsdale scoring well with a save.
Edouard could have done better in the second half, but that was about it for Palace. Arsenal immediately stepped up and increased the pressure.
Palace's massed defense couldn't withstand. Bukayo Saka was able to find the space to pass the ball to Martinelli, and the Brazilian did a brilliant job to turn Joel Ward around and fire the ball into he corner in a flash.
Although Arsenal's attack was dominated by full flight, Saka was the one who flew highest. This is again a testament to how Saka has grown from a promising attacker into a highly productive one who decides matches.
Just before half-time, he scored his first goal. He also showed off his growing partnership with Ben White. The attacker was able to turn the ball around Joseph Whitworth when Saka's pass was returned by the right-back with a nice ball inside.
This was the game, but Arsenal added more sparkle to ensure they got more than three points. Granit Xhaka scored by scoring from close range, continuing a remarkable season that many thought impossible even one year ago. In his own way, the Swiss midfielder is one of the most memorable stories of the season.
It could have made the match feel very different. However, Arsenal feels like a completely different team. They immediately moved to the other end, allowing substitute Kieran Tierney cleverly to cut the ball back for Saka to power home.
The crowd was singing Vieira's old song over and over, almost encouraging the Palace supporters to sing it. These were the great Arsenal teams that Vieira played for in France. They used to win these games in the first half-hour to propel them to the three league titles of the Arsene Wenger era.
Mikel Arteta's team still has a lot of work to do in order to win even one title. They have done everything they were asked to do so far. They are now eight points ahead, with one more game played than they expected.
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