London (AP) — Arsenal produced another dreadful away performance in losing at relegation-threatened Crystal Palace 3-0 in the English Premier League on Monday, further damaging the team’s chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Palace exploited Arsenal’s weakness and lack of leadership in defence, scoring in the 18th minute through Andros Townsend before midfielders Yohan Cabaye and Luka Milivojevic — from the penalty spot — added more goals in the second half.
Arsenal, who have conceded three goals in each of their last four away games that have all ended in defeat, stay in sixth place — seven points off the top four with eight games left.
“All we can do is apologize,” Arsenal winger Theo Walcott said. “I just think they (Palace) wanted it more. You could tell. You could sense that from kickoff.”
It was another humiliating result for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is weighing up whether to sign a contract extension at a club he has coached since 1996, amid heightened unrest from fans.
In the second half at Selhurst Park, Arsenal fans were singing “You’re not fit to wear the shirt,” and there seemed to be a lack of fight and organization in Wenger’s team.
“I understand our fans are very unhappy,” Wenger said. “Every defeat is a big worry. I have managed over 1,000 games for Arsenal and we are not used to losing like that. It’s a big worry.”
On his own future, Wenger said: “I’m disappointed and determined to put things right. Tonight the worry is not me, it’s that we lost a big game.”
A fifth win in six games for Palace lifted the team six points clear of the relegation zone, boosting Sam Allardyce’s bid to maintain his record of never having been relegated from the Premier League.
“He looks to have worked his magic again,” Townsend said. “Incredible victory. The boys are full of confidence at the minute.”
Mamadou Sakho, a center-back on loan from Liverpool, was excellent for Palace in reading the crosses into the box, coming out to block shots and delivering the kind of towering overall display that was beyond Arsenal’s defenders. The visitors also couldn’t handle Palace winger Wilfried Zaha or striker Christian Benteke.
Townsend found himself free six meters out to turn in Zaha’s cross and put Palace ahead and although Arsenal had more possession, Palace looked dangerous most times they went forward.
Arsenal’s defending was shambolic early in the second half. Zaha crossed from the right and Cabaye lifted an angled shot over goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez in the 63rd for 2-0.
Arsenal’s misery was completed when Martinez was adjudged to have tripped Townsend, and Milivojevic converted the penalty.
“Tonight wasn’t us at all,” Walcott said. “We’re very unhappy in the dressing room.”
Arsenal have won only two of their last eight league games.