Arsenal will be aiming to keep their slim hopes of European football alive when they lock horns with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park this midweek.
The penultimate round of fixtures in the 2020/21 Premier League is being played out this midweek. Six matches will take place on Wednesday, one of which will see Arsenal travel to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace in a London derby.
It has been a largely forgettable season for Arsenal, who are currently stationed in the tenth place in the table. However, three wins in a row against Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea have given them a glimmer of hope of securing European football for next term, with the Gunners just four points shy of Tottenham and West Ham in sixth and seventh, respectively, which could mean they could make a late tilt for the Europa Conference League.
As for Crystal Palace, it has been another middling season where they have done enough to stay away from the relegation muddle but not enough to push for a top-half finish. Currently 13th in the table, the Eagles have been inconsistent of late but will be buoyed by the comeback 3-2 win over Aston Villa last time out. And, in what will be Roy Hodgson’s final home game in charge of the club, the players will be hoping to give the manager a proper send-off with a derby win.
The reverse fixture, played out in January earlier this year, had ended in a goalless draw. Ahead of their latest meeting on Wednesday night at Selhurst Park, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
After nearly four years of managing his boyhood club, Roy Hodgson will be stepping down as our manager at the end of this season.
Thank you for everything, Roy ❤️💙
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) May 18, 2021
Crystal Palace will have to make do without the services of Mamadou Sakho, Nathan Ferguson, Connor Wickham and James McArthur for the derby against Arsenal while Nathaniel Clyne is a doubt for the game as well. But, Luka Milivojevic and Patrick van Aanholt could return after missing the last game due to family issues.
Roy Hodgson will set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation in what will be his final home match before he retires from the game. Jack Butland will be the man in goal, hoping to thwart the Arsenal attackers while being protected by the centre-back partnership of Cheikhou Kouyate and Gary Cahill. Joel Ward and van Aanholt ought to be the two full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively.
The returning Milivojevic should slot in at the base of the midfield for the Eagles, with Jeffrey Schlupp and the enterprising Eberechi Eze flanking him. The duo will be in charge of providing the attacking intent from the centre, with Eze in particular being key with his sharp runs and link-up with those in front of him, including Wilfried Zaha.
The Ivory Coast international is likely to be stationed out on the left wing while Andros Townsend starts out on the right. Christian Benteke will be the man spearheading the attack for Palace against the Gunners on Wednedsay.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Butland; Ward, Kouyate, Cahill, van Aanholt; Eze, Milivojevic, Schlupp; Townsend, Benteke, Zaha
Arsenal, meanwhile, are likely to be without just outgoing defender David Luiz for the trip to Selhurst Park. Granit Xhaka and Hector Bellerin are back in contention, which will certainly be a boost for Mikel Arteta, as he pushes to make it four wins in a row in the Premier League.
Having switched to a three-man defensive system for the game against Arsenal last time out, Arteta is likely to revert to the 4-2-3-1 shape against Palace with Bernd Leno manning the goal again ahead of January signing Mat Ryan.
Calum Chambers, who has impressed in the right-back role, should return to the lineup while Kieran Tierney slots in on the left side from where he will provide a constant attacking outlet.
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Every word from @m8arteta 👇
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 18, 2021
Rob Holding and Pablo Mari ought to form the central defensive pairing, with Gabriel Magalhaes set to drop out of the lineup. Thomas Partey, who has had a difficult debut season, will be keen on ending it on a strong note. The Ghanaian will hold his place in midfield with Mohamed Elneny likely to partner up with him once again.
Moving into the attacking third, Bukayo Saka is a certain starter on the right wing, given his importance to this side. Emile Smith Rowe was the difference-maker against Chelsea last time out and should get the nod ahead of Martin Odegaard in the No. 10 role while Gabriel Martinelli gets a chance on the left flank.
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should spearhead the attack for Arsenal against Crystal Palace on Wednesday night, with Alexandre Lacazette an option from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Chambers, Holding, Mari, Tierney; Partey, Elneny; Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli; Aubameyang
- Arsenal could win four successive Premier League matches for the first time since August to October 2018.
- Crystal Palace have never lost their final home league game in their previous 11 Premier League campaigns (W8, D3). Their last such top-flight defeat was in 1980-81.
- Arsenal have lost 13 of their 36 league fixtures – equalling their record for most defeats in a 38-match season, first set in 2017-18.
- Only Fulham have won fewer Premier League points in London derbies this season than Crystal Palace, with seven.
- Arsenal have lost just one of their past 15 top-flight away games against Crystal Palace (W7, D7).
Player to Watch
Emile Smith Rowe
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 18, 2021
It has been quite the breakthrough campaign for the young Englishman, who has been critical to Arsenal’s recent positive results. Indeed, Smith Rowe has been on target in both of Arsenal’s last two league wins against West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea, while his energy and link-up play in the final third, especially with Bukayo Saka, adds another dimension to their attacking play.
The 20-year-old has produced a more than handy return of four goals and seven assists from 31 games for the Arsenal first-team in the ongoing campaign. Dubbed as the ‘Croydon De Bruyne’, Smith Rowe will be hoping to put on a show when he returns to his birthplace on Wednesday and put Crystal Palace to the sword.
Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal
Crystal Palace will be high on confidence after their come-from-behind win against Aston Villa at the weekend. However, Arsenal are also riding on a wave of confidence, having picked up three straight wins in the league, including one against Chelsea.
And, considering the fact that they were not involved over the weekend, they will be well-rested and fresher than their opposition, which is why The Hard Tackle is backing the Gunners to come out on top on Wednesday.