Arsene Wenger's future as Arsenal manager plunged into further uncertainty on Monday night as the Gunners were soundly beaten at Crystal Palace.
Having won just two of their last seven Premier League games before travelling to Selhurst Park, Arsenal arrived late in south London and never got out of first gear as Sam Allardyce got one over his old foe - with the 3-0 victory easing Palace's relegation fears in the process.
Former Tottenham man Andros Townsend opened the scoring before Yohan Cabaye's well-taken second was added to from the penalty spot by Luka Milivojevic.
Large sections of Arsenal's support ended the night with a chorus of "Arsene Wenger, we want you to go" and "you're not fit to wear the shirt" - with protests against the 67-year-old likely to ramp up as they remain sixth following this damaging defeat.
James Olley was at Selhurst Park to assess the key talking points for Arsenal...
Arsenal’s top four hopes in tatters
All five teams above Arsenal won over the weekend but the Gunners could not follow suit after a dismal 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace.
They are now seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City and their game in hand offers only minimal consolation when they play like this.
Arsenal hoped they had turned the corner after a spirited draw against Manchester City preceded a 3-0 win over West Ham but they were abject at the back and toothless in attack – a combination that will see the Gunners finish outside the top four for the first time in Wenger’s 21-year tenure if it continues.
Mutiny is in the air
Protests against Arsene Wenger remaining at the club have been relatively low-key and restricted to isolated pockets to date but after falling 3-0 behind, the majority of Arsenal’s travelling support could be heard singing: “Arsene Wenger, we want you to go.”
Chants of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” followed as supporters made it clear the players should shoulder some of the responsibility.
Wenger will come under renewed pressure to make a public decision on his future but it increasingly feels as though it may not be on his own terms as discontent mixed with apathy – several thousand empty seats are visible at every home game now – corrodes Arsenal’s campaign.
Chief executive Ivan Gazidis, herein attendance, has plenty to ponder with many calling for a greater show of leadership from the Arsenal board.
St Totteringham’s Day might be removed from the calendar
Arsenal celebrate the day it is mathematically certain Tottenham can no longer finish above them in the Premier League table as “St Totteringham’s Day” and have done so gleefully since 1995.
Spurs currently sit 14 points ahead of their north London rivals having played one game more and the prevailing mood at the respective clubs could not be starker.
Arsenal have overhauled seemingly lost causes before in maintaining their supremacy – including climbing above Spurs on the final day of last season – but the Gunners might need a miracle to do so from here.
Arsenal are bullied at the back
The Gunners dealt with Andy Carroll’s physical threat easily enough against West Ham last week but here they were overpowered in a similar contest with Christian Benteke.
West Ham failed to play to Andy Carroll’s strengths, rarely crossing the ball or looking to find him with long balls from deep but Sam Allardyce was never going to make the same mistake.
Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel were unable to deal with Benteke throughout – the decision to leave Per Mertesacker on the bench, albeit when short of match fitness, was all the more questionable given the lack of height in Arsenal’s team.
Bellerin’s struggles continue
It is in one sense unfair to single out any Arsenal player given the entire team disappointed but Bellerin began this season as arguably the division’s finest right-back only to regress considerably during the course of the campaign.
The 22-year-old is undoubtedly at his best going forward and has time on his side to improve other aspects of his game but defensively he was found wanting once again.
Cynics will point to a steady decline since signing a new six-year, £100,000-a-week contract in November and with that money comes additional responsibility – something he is yet to come to terms with.