Despite his form against Palace, tonight isn’t the night to start Giroud
Match Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal – Premier League – 10.04.2017
In most seasons a 3-0 win over West Ham would be considered pretty routine for Arsenal but given their horrendous form of late it was a much needed shot in the arm. The Gunners salvaged a draw against Manchester City eight days ago so a win against our transpontine capital foes will leave Arsenal with seven points from a possible nine – a marked improvement on their average of one point per game from their previous six Premier League matches.
Without wishing to sound too melodramatic but Arsenal’s 2017 form had been of the relegation candidate variety. The addition of three more points will elevate Wenger’s side to fifth place, four points behind Manchester City with a game in hand. It also gives them the footing to draw level with Liverpool which largely puts their top four hopes in their own hands. Being master of their own league destiny is the best Arsenal can hope for at present but with an FA Cup semi-final looming it is important that Arsenal build and maintain some forward momentum.
Olivier Giroud will be hoping for a starting berth tonight given his impressive goal record against Crystal Palace, the physical nature of the opponent and, of course, that majestic goal he scored against them earlier this season. However, I think his best contributions to Arsenal’s cause this season come from the bench so would hope Wenger continues to stick with the majority of the team from the West Ham game.
The introduction of a mobile front three in Welbeck, Alexis and Walcott has added some teeth to Arsenal’s attack whilst the continuing presence of Xhaka has allowed Mesut Özil to better express himself. Xhaka has looked the part in recent games – more so with Elneny than Coquelin but less than with Ramsey.
Crystal Palace are suffering something of an Arsenal-level injury crisis with up to eleven players missing for tonight’s match. There is a great opportunity for Arsenal to not only pick up three crucial points but substantially improve their goal difference. There is, however, a potential hitch.
Michael Oliver is tonight’s official and whilst it is not a good look to produce excuses before a game is played we must be wary. Arsenal have an abysmal record under Oliver and given how the opposition will approach the game the manager should urge his players caution. We must avoid the needless set-pieces that gifted West Brom their win whilst also not allowing ourselves to be physically dominated in their final third or give the referee reason to be lenient on Crystal Palace.
The Gunners have a few of their own selection issues with both our first choice keepers out of action and whilst Martinez committed himself well against the Hammers it’s likely he’ll be busier tonight. Crystal Palace might be the form side heading into this fixture and Monday night matches are notoriously hard to call but I’m confident Arsenal can get a decent victory here.
Arsenal (from): Martinez, Macey, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Gibbs, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil, Walcott, Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi, Lucas, Alexis, Welbeck, Giroud.
“These teams gives absolutely everything to play against you, therefore we have to prepare again to be highly focused.” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace (01.01.2017)
- Arsenal 1-1 Crystal Palace (17.04.2016)
- Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal (16.08.2015)
The Eagles are still considered to be in a relegation battle given their position on the table but Arsène Wenger believes they are practically safe from the drop and I’d have to agree. A loss tonight still puts them three points ahead of Swansea with a game in hand and given the four wins they picked up on the bounce before their shock loss to Southampton in midweek I think they’ll be fine.
Palace are not playing like a team staring down relegation. They’re winning games convincingly and not just scrapping their way to vital points. That is not to say they are not up for a scrap – as Arsenal will surely find out in less than two hours.
This is almost a carbon copy of the West Brom game in terms of style of play and Sam Allardyce will have set up his team to soak up as much pressure as they can before lumping it to Benteke. The game plan will be to either cause Arsenal problems directly on the counter-attack with long balls or to indirectly by winning free-kicks, corners and throw-ins in dangerous areas.
Crystal Palace have just two wins in 33 top-flight matches against Arsenal (D9, L22).
- The Eagles have scored six goals in their last 12 league games against the Gunners.
- Arsène Wenger has never lost to Palace in the Premier League (W8, D3).
- Sam Allardyce has lost nine of his last 10 Premier League games against Wenger.
- The Eagles have won four of their last five league games, with the other match a defeat at Southampton in their last match.
- A win would mean Palace equal their Premier League record of three consecutive home victories. However, defeat would see them become the first team to lose seven consecutive top-flight home London derbies.
- Christian Benteke has only scored two of his 11 Premier League goals at home, both in the 3-0 win against Southampton in December.
- Arsenal have only won two of their last seven league matches (D1, L4).
- The Gunners will equal a club Premier League record of four consecutive away defeats if they lose.
- Arsenal currently have 54 points, which is two more than at the same stage last season.
- Olivier Giroud has scored five goals as a substitute in the top flight this season, more than any other player.
- Giroud has also scored in his last three Premier League games at Selhurst Park.
The optimist in me is going for a 3-1 win for Arsenal.
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