Now we will find out if Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal really can sustain their renaissance.
The signs have been decent so far under new boss Arteta with a renewed appetite for hard graft.
But Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s enforced absence is a hammer blow.
The Gabon striker is the man with the golden touch in front of goal.
And the numbers speak for themselves, suggesting Arsenal will have a big problem against Sheffield United and Chelsea after his deserved red card.
Saturday’s opener was Aubameyang’s 16th of the season and 14th in the Premier League – the rest of the squad have scored 15 league goals between them.
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It was also his third in the last four games and his ninth away from home.
Arsenal’s other Premier League goalscorers on the road – Nicolas Pepe, Lucas Torreira and Gabriel Martinelli – have scored just one each.
“We are losing probably the most important player,” said Arteta.
“This is never nice but we have other players that can play in that position. We will try to find a way and be as competitive as possible.
“Hopefully [the other players] can take a step forward now that Auba is not able to contribute to the team with goals.
“Someone else has to do it and I want to see their reaction too.”
Let’s not kid ourselves, Aubameyang had to go for his tackle on Crystal Palace ’s Max Meyer.
When people say it looks worse than it really was on the freeze-frame, they are wrong in this case. Actually, the freeze frame shows us exactly how bad the tackle was – something that could have been missed in real time.
The industrious Alexandre Lacazette, who provided a third assist in as many games, will stay up top but he has scored five top flight goals this season and all of them at the Emirates.
Most Arsenal fans remain adamant they’d rather keep the France star than his strike partner.
Aubameyang’s instinctive goal-poaching, however, remains massively underrated.
Stick him in a Liverpool or Manchester City squad and his CV would boast far more than a League Cup in France and a couple of domestic trophies in Germany.
With him this Arsenal team have a puncher’s chance of a late run into the top four – especially with Harry Kane out for Tottenham until April and Manchester United so inconsistent.
Without Aubameyang, Arsenal’s games against well organised Sheffield United at home and Chelsea away will be a fascinating barometer for whether the progress made by Arteta has been just a bounce or a culture shift.
Arsenal have conceded in three of their four Premier League games under Pep Guardiola’s former assistant. For all the positivity following his arrival, Southampton have the same number of points.
Crystal Palace, for all their limited resources, are still above them in the table and probably deserved their luck with Jordan Ayew’s fortuitous goal.
With Arsenal 11 points off the top four Aubameyang can’t come back from his three-match ban soon enough.
When he returns you’d expect Arteta’s Arsenal side to still to be putting the boot in as they are currently.
When Arsene Wenger’s Gunners were carrying all before them their disciplinary record was horrendous.
It was a small price to pay, however, if it meant they could mix it with the very best in the Premier League.
While Arteta apologized to Palace and Meyer for the tackle that could have damaged his ankle – Palace will find out the extent of the injury today – Arsenal’s rookie boss maintained he still wants to see more of that aggressive edge that has returned to the north Londoners’ game.
Quite right too.
With 11 men on the pitch Aubameyang would have won this game. Finally it is no longer easy to bully Arsenal. Now they just have to put a run of wins together.