Arsenal’s testing festive schedule continues on Wednesday when they take on a resurgent Crystal Palace side at Selhurst Park. The Gunners were involved in a remarkable 3-3 draw with Liverpool last week, showcasing both attacking flair and defensive ineptitude. Manager Arsene Wenger will want to see a much more comprehensive performance from the players involved in south London.
That may be a big ask, against a Crystal Palace team making major progress under Roy Hodgson, though. Having languished near the bottom of the Premier League table for a while, the Eagles now look too good to be involved in a relegation battle. Against a Palace side who have been defensively sound, the likes of Ozil, Sanchez and Lacazette will need to be at full throttle.
The Eagles have found their flow under Hodgson and have pulled away from the relegation zone after occupying the 20th position for much of the season. They’ll be confident of causing Arsenal some issues here, with the pace of Zaha and power of Benteke almost tailor-made to get at the Gunners back four. Despite being the home side, expect Palace to surrender possession, allows Arsenal to roam forward and sit deep. However, when they do win the ball back, in Zaha and Townsend the Eagles boast the speed needed to turn their opponents around.
Tournament – English Premier League 2017 – 2018
Venue- Selhurst Park, London, England
Date and Time- 2:00 AM IST on Friday, December 29, 2017
CRY – D, D, D, W, W, D
ARS – W, L, D, D, W, D
Crystal Palace has won only one of their last 12 home league matches against Arsenal (D5 L6), though it was a 3-0 victory in this exact fixture last season.
Arsenal has only failed to score in two of their last 19 league matches against Crystal Palace: the 0-3 loss last season and a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park in October 1997.
After losing their first three home PL matches of the season without scoring, Crystal Palace is unbeaten in their last six at Selhurst Park (W3 D3) and have scored two goals in each match.
The Gunners have kept a clean sheet in all three of their Premier League London derbies this season and can go four London derbies without conceding for the first time since February 1999.
Cech (GK), Mustafi, Koscielny, Bellerin, Xhaka, Wilshere, Kolasinac, Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette, Welbeck
Speroni (GK), Schlupp, Dann, Tomkins, Kelly, Loftus-Cheek, Cabaye, Milivojevic, Townsend, Benteke, Zaha
Petr Cech (ARS)
Mesut Ozil (ARS)
Alexis Sanchez (ARS)
Crystal Palace’s unbeaten run extended to eight games at the weekend but Roy Hodgson would have been disappointed only to have got a point at home to bottom side Swansea. The Eagles could be back in the bottom three by the time this match starts.
Arsenal did well to come back from 2-0 down against Liverpool to draw 3-3 on Friday but questions must be asked why they went 2-0 down at home in the first place. Defensive mistakes continue to stifle progress for Arsene Wenger’s side. They could be four points adrift of the top four by the time this game starts. Arsenal has struggled at Selhurst Park in recent games and was thrashed 3-0 on their last visit. This is by no means an easy game for Arsenal despite what the league table might suggest. Everyone else would have played by this match and that will bring additional pressures to both teams. An entertaining game should be in the offing.
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