Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger, who expects a tough encounter against Crystal Palace, has praised Marouane Chamakh and Santi Cazorla ahead of the game.

The last time Arsenal faced Crystal Palace at home was back in 2005, a match which ended 5-1 in favour of the Gunners as Bergkamp, Reyes, Vieira and Henry getting on the score sheet. Both the teams have of course changed a completely since then, in fact Mathieu Flamini, who is suspended for this game, is the only current Arsenal player who was present in that match day squad.

Arsenal go into this game on the back of disappointing draw against Southampton, although given the situation that was perhaps the best they could have hoped for with 10-men for the last 10 minutes or so in the game. That draw provided Manchester City the opportunity to grab the lead in the title race and now Arsenal will have to return to winning ways to prevent City from getting out of sight. With Manchester City facing Chelsea on Monday, this match provides Arsenal the perfect opportunity to claw their way back at the top of the table.

But Arsene Wenger believes Crystal Palace will provide a stern test. Palace have lost just three of their last eight matches in all competitions as they look to fight their way out of the relegation battle.

“They have a stronger belief certainly. They don’t concede goals, they have a very efficient game and recently they had consistent results so it is for us and for them a very important game.

“They are recovering well because they are stable defensively. I saw them play against Tottenham – they were absolutely impressive in that game. That is a good warning for us.” – The Arsenal manager said.

Arsene Wenger has also expressed his delight at progress Marouane Chamakh has made since joining the newly promoted side. The Frenchman has explained how it was tough for the former Arsenal man to compete for a place in the side with Robin van Persie hitting top form.

“Chamakh is doing very well and I’m happy for him because we love him here. He had a great start here in the first six months.

“After [Robin] van Persie came back, he had an impossible competition because Van Persie is world class and it was very difficult for him to compete.

“He didn’t play anymore and didn’t have exactly the career he expected to have here. He is a great guy, a great player and I am very happy it is going well for him.” – Wenger added.

The Arsenal boss also reserved special praise for Santi Cazorla in his pre-match press conference. The Spaniard has been in wonderful goal scoring off late and Wenger has stressed on the importance of his goals for the side.

“At the moment Cazorla scores and is also very important in the build up of our game. He is now very important with his finishing qualities, because we lost Walcott who was a goalscoring machine, Ramsey as well who had a great goalscoring record.

“To lose the two of them together, someone needs to score these goals.

“Cazorla can be the playmaker and goalscorer, at the moment we need these qualities. He is a fantastic footballer, but he loves to play.

“He is happy on the pitch and that’s all we want from him.” – Wenger explained.