All of Arsenal’s rivals for the Champions League places played yesterday and apart from Man United drawing, the rest all won. We are left three points off Tottenham in fifth place, so we have yet another must-win game at Crystal Palace on our hands to keep in touch.
Roy Hodgson’s side have regained their belief in themselves and are now 8 games unbeaten in the League, but more worrying for Arsenal is that they have not lost a home game in their last 6 either. So let’s start by looking at Palace’s recent home form..
The fact that Palace have also scored two goals in all of those games should put Arsene Wenger on the alert that we need to get our defence in order, which will not be so easy with Nacho Monreal now joining the injury list.
When you compare Palace’s record with Arsenal’s away form, you could be forgiven for thinking that Hodgson’s men should be favourites! So let us compare…..
That is hardly an inspiring record, and it is purely down to our lack of confidence in games away from the Emirates that has seen us drop off the pace in the title race, and Wenger will be desperate to turn that around. But Palace are still in the relegation zone and will be fighting just as hard. As Hodgson said: “We have got to keep going because we are still a long long way away from 40 points and we must go into each game knowing it will be another tough Premier League game where we are going to be tested to the limit.
“Our opponents will want to win every bit as much as us and we will have to give a good performance if we are going to get something out of each game and that will be key in our preparation.”
Hodgson has proven once again that can manage lower level sides to be effective so it is with more hope than judgement that we can get all three points, especially as last season we came to Selhurst Park and got hammered 3-0!
Other than the mad six minutes against Liverpool, the Gunners had scored just 3 goals in 3 games, and Wenger is hoping that will change today. He said: “What we want is to stop conceding goals, stop missing chances, but as well I want [my players] all to continue to play with the same spirit, the same determination and the same love of the game.” All I want is three points!
Onto the team news. Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Nacho Monreal will all miss the next few games, while Palace only have Joel Ward out and will glad to see Christian Benteke come back from suspension.
This is the first of three games in a week again, ending with Chelsea on the 3rd Jan, so i think Wenger will play the best team available to him and rotate against West Brom on New Years Eve. And with Monreal injured I think he will go back to 4-3-3 today. So my prediction is this….
Bellerin Koscielny Mustafi Maitland-Niles
Iwobi Xhaka Wilshere
As for my score prediction, I have to say I’m more than a little concerned, but if we play as well as we did against United and Liverpool we should finally start scoring, but will concede a silly goal or two!
3-2 to the Arsenal!