Palace won 3-0 courtesy of goals by Andros Townsend, Yohan Cabaye and Luka Milivojevic – a result which put a dent on Arsenal’s aspirations for a top four spot this year. But Clarke believes that, despite the disappointment, there were some positives to be drawn from the game for the Gunners.
“No one covered themselves with glory in this defeat, but picking out the Arsenal man that made the most positive contributions was actually pretty easy – it was Granit Xhaka.” Clarke told arsenal.com.
“Xhaka has the ability to put just the right amount of weight in his passes into forward areas. It was a just a pity he wasn’t able to repeat [his long-ball pass] incision and accuracy more often at Selhurst.
“On a night we saw too many sideways passes, I enjoyed Xhaka’s willingness to try and feed vertical passes into the box. He was proactive and brave on the ball.
“Despite the frustration, I never saw the midfielder shy away from his responsibilities either. He would be gutted at the result, but Xhaka played OK.”
Xhaka has sailed through some rough water in his first season at Arsenal, having been dismissed on two occasions for reckless challenges. The Swiss was also involved in a couple of off the pitch controversies which hardly helped to ease his adaptation at the Emirates.
Arsenal are now set to travel to Middlesbrough on Monday in a last-ditch attempt to keep their top four chances alive.