Selhurst Park, London
October 26, 2013; 12:45 BST
Crystal Palace host Arsenal FC at Selhurst Park on Saturday and this clash couldn’t have come at a worse time for the home side. This game has all the makings and could turn out to be another exciting London derby.
Crystal Palace are currently 19th in the points table having registered a solitary win in the season so far. In fact the Eagles have won only one of their last 10 matches in all competitions. But the big news ahead of this game for the home side is the departure of their manager Ian Holloway. The Englishman, who has been in charge of the club since last year, stepped down after admitting that the club “needs and impetus of energy”. Keith Millen has been appointed as the caretaker manager for the Arsenal match, while Tony Pulis is rumoured to be the favourite to replace Holloway.
Arsenal on the other hand are enjoying life at the top of the Premier League with a two point advantage over Chelsea. The Gunners have lost just once in their last 13 matches in all competitions and that defeat came in their Champions League fixture against Borussia Dortmund this week. Despite their good start to the season, a lot of critics are still skeptical about them launching a serious title challenge and their upcoming fixtures against Liverpool and Manchester United will prove to be the litmus test. But before those fixtures, Arsenal will have to chance to extend their lead at the top as Chelsea and Manchester City go head to head this weekend.
The last match between these two London sides came back in 2005 and Arsenal won that game comfortably with a 5-1 score line with Thierry Henry scoring a brace. Henry also scored in the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park that season, but Aki Riihilahti equalized and salvaged a draw.
Crystal Palace – Team News, Lineup And Formation
Keith Millen faces few injury concerns ahead of this game. Patrick McCarthy, Jack Hunt, Glenn Murray and Jonathan Williams are all out of contention due to injuries. Glenn Murray’s absence has been a big blow for Palace this season so far, as their strikers have misfired upfront.
Palace succumbed to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Fulham in their last game, despite taking an early lead through Adrian Muriappa. Millen is unlikely to make any significant tactical changes to the side, which means the team will continue to play in their 4-3-3 formation. But he is sure to make two changes to the starting line-up that was fielded against Fulham.
28-year-old midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi will replace Stuart O’Keefe at the middle of the part, alongside Mile Jedinak and Jose Campana. Upfront Dwight Gayle, who didn’t have a good outing against Fulham, is likely to drop back the bench, with former Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh leading the line.
Chamakh will have a point to prove against his former club and could possibly churn out a better performance. Crystal Palace’s problems have been two fold – they are not only conceding a lot of goals, they are also failing to score them. The London side has conceded 13 goals in their last five matches, and managed to score only two during that period. The strikers haven’t looked impressive, except for Dwight Gayle who looks like a good prospect.
Mile Jedinak has perhaps been their most impressive player this season, but he hasn’t received too much support from his fellow midfielders. Against Arsenal, the likes of Bolasie and Puncheon will need to track back to help out their full backs, something which they haven’t done diligently so far.
Possible Starting Line up [4-3-3]: Speroni (GK); Moxey, Delaney, Mariappa, Ward; Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Campana; Bolasie, Chamakh, Puncheon
Arsenal – Team News, Lineup And Formation
Arsenal have the longest injury list in the Premier League at the moment. Although the squad hasn’t been too stretched so far, but Arsene Wenger didn’t have the option to rest his key players for low profile matches. Abou Diany, Yaya Sanogo, Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Theo Walcott are all out of contention for this game with fitness concerns, while there are doubts about the fitness of Jack Wilshere and Mathieu Flamini – although the latter is expected to recover from his concussion in time for this game.
Arsenal did suffer from a disappointing defeat against Borussia Dortmund in their last game and their performance in that match left a lot to be desired. Arsene Wenger is expected to make two changes to the side that lost at the Emirates in midweek. Midfield enforcer Mathieu Flamini will return to partner Mikel Arteta in front of the defence, while Santi Cazorla will replace Thomas Rosicky. Flamini’s return will see Wilshere, who has an ankle problem, being dropped to the bench, with Ramsey playing on the right.
Flamini’s return will provide the bite they were lacking at the center of the park against Dortmund. The Frenchman has made a huge impact since signing for the club this summer, and has cemented his place in the side. Flamini’s presence not only enhances defensive solidarity of the side, but it also allows the other more attacking players to play with a sense of freedom.
Aaron Ramsey will once again start on the right as Wenger doesn’t have Theo Walcott available at his disposal. The Welshman who has been in fine form this season and scored a brilliant goal against Norwich in their last league game, isn’t exactly comfortable playing out wide, like Wilshere. But Arsenal’s attacking trio behind Giroud are all flexible and will continue to switch throughout the match. Ozil drifts out wide at times, leaving space for Ramsey to move in field. This movement at the top has been a pleasure to watch this season from Arsenal.
Possible Starting Line-Up [4-2-3-1]: Szczesny (GK); Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Arteta, Flamini; Ramsey, Ozil, Cazorla; Giroud
- Two of Arsenal’s three Premier League title winning campaigns (1997/98 and 2001/02) have seen them pick up fewer points from their opening eight games of the season than they have this term (19).
- Despite having been relegated in each of their previous four Premier League seasons, Palace have made their worst start to a PL campaign; picking up just three points.
- No team has used more different players in the Premier League this season than both Arsenal and Crystal Palace (24).
- Arsenal are unbeaten in 13 competitive away games, winning 11 and drawing twice.
- Eight different Arsenal players have netted a goal in the Premier League this season; no side have had more individual goalscorers (Chelsea also have eight).
Player To Watch Out For
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)
While the likes of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey has grabbed all the headlines, Olivier Giroud has hardly received the praise his performances has deserved. The Frenchman, who received a lot of criticism last season, is looking like a completely transformed player this season. Apart from his excellent hold-up play, the big striker is also scoring for fun and has already racked up six goals in all competitions so far. Giroud also has a fantastic touch for such a big striker and his flick to set up Wilshere last weekend was a treat to watch.
Crystal Palace 0-3 Arsenal
Crystal Palace will be nervy at the moment and Arsenal will come out hard at them in order to bounce back from their defeat against Dortmund. The home side will work hard, but the Gunner shave too much quality in their squad for Palace to handle. The away side should win this comfortably with a three goal advantage.