As Sambi Lokonga hit the turf under pressure from Conor Gallagher in the 72nd minute, he immediately knew he was in big trouble. Losing the ball with most of his teammates in the final third had left Arsenal exposed in defence. The 21-year-old picked himself up and chased play but within 13 seconds, Palace were ahead; Odsonne Edouard ruthlessly smashing home off the bar.
Sambi’s head dropped immediately before he trudged back to the halfway line. It’s a mistake he won’t forget and one he’s desperate to put right immediately.
While a late Alex Lacazette equaliser took some of the heat off the young summer signing, he was quick to front up to the media after the game.
“I want to play the next game as quick as possible,” he told reporters. “When you play a game like this, you are hungry inside because I made a mistake.
“I want to play the next game as quick as possible to change everything. It is difficult because we have to analyse them. I think they (the goals) are from two mistakes, one of them mine as well.
“It is an area where I cannot lose the ball, so it is difficult to speak about the goals when I made a mistake.”
Luckily for Sambi, with the next game coming on Friday against Aston Villa and Bukayo Saka, the man he replaced at half time a doubt after a heavy kick from James McArthur, he may get his wish.
Like everyone at the Emirates last night, he knows that the Gunners need to produce a better performance. After a slick goal-scoring start, Mikel Arteta’s side quickly pulled up the handbrake and ceded control to the Eagles.
“I think apart from the goal we didn’t do well in terms of quality, simple things,” said Lokonga.
“So it is difficult to say that we started the game well because we only had the goal. I think after the [opening] goal we relaxed too much because we had to look for the second goal, we had to put more pressure on them and we didn’t.”
If there was one positive on the night, it was the energy brought by Lacazette. The Frenchman scored his first league goal of the campaign with nearly the last touch of the game having been a constant menace since coming on with 23 minutes remaining.
“I think Lacazette did well today,” said Lokonga. “He backed me, he backed the team. I think when we come on we have to bring this mentality that Lacazette did. I think he brought fire when he came on and that’s what we need to try to do every time somebody comes on.”