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Arsenal v Crystal Palace

'I had to do it' - Guendouzi explains 'rugby tackle' on Crystal Palace winger Zaha

11:46 GMT+4 28/10/2019
Matteo Guendouzi Wilfried Zaha Arsenal vs Crystal Palace 2019-20
The Arsenal midfielder believes his yellow card offence was necessary to prevent the Eagles from grabbing a late winner at the Emirates

Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi has explained his ‘rugby tackle’ on Wilfried Zaha in the Gunners’ 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.

Arsenal were 2-0 up inside the opening 10 minutes of the game as centre-halves Sokratis and David Luiz both scored from corners.

However, for the second time this season, they allowed that cushion to slip and ended up drawing 2-2, with Luka Milivojevic netting a penalty won by Zaha and Jordan Ayew equalising before the hour mark.

In the closing stages of the game, Palace forward Zaha was presented with an opportunity to lead a counterattack but was stopped by Guendouzi, who wrestled him to the ground and picked up a yellow card, something the French midfielder says was necessary.

“I had to foul Zaha at the end, otherwise he is through on goal on his own,” Guendouzi told Arsenal’s official website .

“I'm the last defender but I’m far from our goal as well. I had to do it.

“We really wanted to win the game, so we attacked a lot towards the end to get the third goal. We allowed spaces [for Palace on the break] but it’s because we really wanted to win.”

Guendouzi insisted that it was not mental fragility that saw Arsenal throw away their advantage, while suggesting that VAR’s calls to award Palace a penalty and disallow what would have been a late, winning goal for the Gunners cost them.

“It’s not a mental issue. We didn’t manage to hold our advantage,” Guendouzi continued.

“We knew they were a good team, with individual quality, and they played well for their goals. Zaha did well to get a penalty. It’s down to us to work so we win these kinds of matches after taking the lead.

“I’m not sure what happened on our disallowed goal. It’s like last Monday at Sheffield [United]. The ref didn’t check with VAR then on Sokratis and Saka. This time he checks, and it goes against us. I haven’t seen it again yet, but we lose two points because of that today and a point at Sheffield too.”