Emery refuses to blame Xhaka as Hodgson salutes Milivojevic

Unai Emery was keen to focus on a self-sacrificing performance from Granit Xhaka rather than the error that let Crystal Palace equalise.

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka   -  Getty Images

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery refused to blame Granit Xhaka after the makeshift left-back's foul on Wilfried Zaha allowed Crystal Palace to snatch a 2-2 draw in the Premier League.

Luka Milivojevic put Palace ahead in first-half stoppage time after Shkodran Mustafi lunged in on Cheikhou Kouyate.

Xhaka dispatched a venomous free-kick six minutes after the restart and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave Arsenal the lead despite strong claims for handball against Alexandre Lacazette.

But the Gunners could not hold out for a 12th consecutive win in all competitions as Xhaka brought down Zaha and Milivojevic made it two out of two from the spot.

"I'm disappointed with the result but the rest of our work is good," Emery told Sky Sports.

"I think this draw is not bad for us. It's better to win but looking at the 90 minutes it is a good result."

On the equalising penalty, Emery said: "It's a difficult action for the defence but the attitude from Xhaka is very good because he is a midfielder playing at left-back.

"His quality is better in the middle but with his attitude I cannot say anything to him."

Xhaka dashed towards the bench to celebrate with his boss after his goal and Emery explained why.

"At half-time we spoke about this situation. His quality is so good on the free-kicks," he said.

"I pushed him and he did that. Every player can do different situations on the pitch to help us and, with his quality, he can do that."

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson praised Milivojevic's character after his captain was denied by Jordan Pickford in last weekend's defeat to Everton.

"He had to show some courage, some mental strength," he said.

"Both were very firmly struck penalties that didn't give the goalkeeper much chance."

The ex-England manager felt Lacazette's assist to Aubameyang was a clear handball but refused to lambast the officials.

"I don't blame the referee or linesman because a lot of things get missed in football," he added.

"If you start to criticise when an instance doesn't go your way… I'm not that sort of manager.

"I think most people would have sympathy and agree with me and say that goal shouldn't have stood, and we might be looking at a situation where we have three points."

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