Arsenal eye yet another home win when they host Crystal Palace as Unai Emery challenges his side to maintain their momentum in the top four race.
Arsenal will be high on confidence after reaching the last four of the Europa League after a narrow, yet convincing victory over Napoli away from home. The Gunners have looked vulnerable away from home this season, although they did silence their doubters with back-to-back away wins at Watford and Napoli this week alone, keeping a clean sheet in both games.
At home, Arsenal have been a different animal altogether, as the side have not lost a single game in the league after their opening day defeat to Manchester City, while a win over Palace would be their 10th in a row at the Emirates in the Premier League. Arsenal can take much confidence from their home form and expect to collect all three points here against Roy Hodgson’s men.
Any dropped points would undoubtedly hand over the initiative for a top-four spot to their rivals, as Arsenal only sit in fourth on goal difference. But as things stand, Arsenal are favourites to make it to the top four, and they could go back to third with a win as Tottenham lost to Manchester City in their game.
As for Crystal Palace, they face a formidable task to get a result at the Emirates. The London side could take some inspiration from their previous encounter this season with Arsenal where they fought back to draw the game at 2-2. Hodgson’s side can consider themselves all but secure in the battle for survival, although they are still a point short of the 40-point mark.
During the last matchday, Crystal Palace lost to Manchester City at home, but it’s their away form that matters when they visit the Emirates. Palace have been in some good form when visiting big-six sides this season. They are the only team to have beaten City at Etihad and score three at Anfield. They were also responsible for halting Arsenal’s winning streak earlier this season when the sides drew.
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The win over Napoli came at a considerable cost for Arsenal after Aaron Ramsey limped off the pitch with a hamstring injury. Considering the timeline for recoveries from such injuries, Ramsey might have played his last game for Arsenal, although Emery is hopeful he might just make a return before the season ends.
Emery has options in Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to replace Ramsey in the side, though it could be the German who is ideally suited for it. On the other hand, Sokratis will be missing for Arsenal as he serves the last of his two-match suspension. The Greek defender could be replaced by Shkodran Mustafi in the starting lineup.
Emery could stick with both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette up front, with Ozil behind them. Elsewhere, Emery could take a call to rest Laurent Koscielny after a series of games, and also choose his preferred midfield for the home game, with the likes of Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira favourites for a starting berth, with Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny options from the bench.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Leno; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Guendouzi, Kolasinac; Ozil; Lacazette, Aubameyang
Palace will be without the services of Jeffrey Schlupp for the remainder of the season after he picked up an ankle injury against Manchester City last weekend. Schlupp joins James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho on the sidelines. Hodgson has the option of Chiekhou Kouyate to replace Schlupp.
On the attacking front, Hodgson must decide between his striker options. He has Christian Benteke who, if selected will make his 200th appearance in the Premier League, although the Belgian does not have a goal to show in almost a year now. His other choice is Michi Batshuayi, who has scored 2 goals in 9 appearances since January.
The Chelsea loanee might get the nod ahead of Benteke, while Hodgson could stick with last weekend’s backline. Scott Dann and Martin Kelly could marshal the central defence, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Patrick van Aanholt could take their full-back roles. Hodgson could field a five-man midfield with Luka Milivojevic sitting at the base and surrounded by Townsend, McArthur, Kouyate, and Zaha.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Guaita; Wan-Bissaka, Kelly, Dann, van Aanholt; Townsend, McArthur, Milivojevic, Kouyate, Zaha; Batshuayi
- Arsenal have lost just two of their 22 home meetings with Crystal Palace in all competitions (W16 D4)
- Following their 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park earlier this season, Crystal Palace are looking to avoid defeat in both league meetings with Arsenal in a campaign for the first time since 1979-80.
- Arsenal have won each of their last six London derbies at home in the Premier League, their best such run in the competition since 11 straight victories between December 2001 and November 2003.
- Arsenal have won their last 10 home Premier League games – they’ve never won 11 in a row at home within a single top-flight season before.
- Arsenal have won 22 more points at home (44) than they have away (22) in the Premier League this season, the biggest such difference in the competition.
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.66
2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score anytime @ 1.57
1. Crystal Palace Draw No Bet @ 4.33
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Unai Emery had seemingly found the right balance in his team with the perfect utilization of Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil over the last couple months. However, his plans are put in jeopardy with Aaron Ramsey’s untimely injury, and the Welshman’s absence robs Emery of the energy he needs in midfield. Only one player who can somewhat balance out Ramsey’s loss is Ozil.
The German has been performing steadily over the past few weeks. He should be fresh having being benched against Napoli during midweek, so expect him to start and give in a decent performance at home. Arsenal will need to rely on Ozil for probably the remainder of the season, as he is the most creative player in the side although he will have to contribute like an all-rounder in the team.
Arsenal 2-1 Crystal Palace
The last game for Arsenal in the league as well as the midweek clash with Napoli eases some pressure off their away performances and will undoubtedly benefit their home form. Overall, Arsenal have looked solid since their loss to Everton and will likely go on to clinch a tenth consecutive home league victory against Palace.
Palace have looked dangerous away from home this season, especially against the big-six sides. Taking into account, they need only a point to reach the 40-point mark, Hodgson’s men might not fancy a win at the Emirates but certainly try for one. Arsenal are too strong at home to have any doubts against a side like Palace and expect the Gunners to secure three points and move to third on the table.