Arsenal will look to get back to winning ways and maintain their chase of the top teams when they host Alan Pardew and Crystal Palace. The visitors have recently found some form in their last three games but the trip to Arsenal could well damage their applecarts yet again. Whereas, Arsene Wenger will hope his side can bounce back from the draw at West Ham where they gave away a 2-0 lead and conceded three goals.
A win for either side will give them great confidence going into their last five games of the season. Here is a look at what you can expect from tonight’s game:
Kickoff and Live Telecast
Channel: Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1.
Date and Time: Sunday, 17 April 2016 – 16:00 GMT (20:30 IST)
Venue: Emirates Stadium, London.
Arsenal go into the game with no fresh injuries to their squad from last weekend’s visit to West Ham United. Arsene Wenger might be tempted to play the experienced Petr Cech instead of David Ospina. The Colombian kept clean sheets against Everton and Watford but shipped three goals against West Ham.
The former Chelsea man is now back to full fitness and will be expected to make his first start since picking up a leg injury early March. Gabriel might also make way for Per Mertesacker after the former struggled against the Hammers. Welshman Aaron Ramsey also returned to action last weekend and is pushing for a place in the starting XI.
Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky are still short of match-fitness and are not expected to be added to the matchday squad. Meanwhile, midfielders Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are still out and are expected to return to first-team training next week.
Crystal Palace will visit The Emirates without midfielder James McArthur and forward Dwight Gayle. The latter suffered from a leg muscle problem and Alan Pardew has indicated he might also miss the trip to Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
Brede Hangeland, Wilfried Zaha, and former Arsenal forward Marouane Chamakh will look to pass a late fitness test. Whereas, striker Connor Wickham featured in midweek’s draw against Everton and will be pushing for a place in the starting XI. But Emmanuel Adebayor is expected to give tough competition to the English striker. In midfield, Pardew will look to retain Jedinak and Cabaye as part of his 4-3-3 formation.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny, Coquelin; Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez; Welbeck.
Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; Jedinak, Cabaye, Zaha; Puncheon, Wickham, Bolasie.
Arsenal’s recent form has seen them slip 13 points off the top of the table with a game in hand and by the time they take field on Sunday, they might be 16 points behind leaders Leicester City and possibly end up behind both the Manchester clubs. The Gunners have struggled to keep pace with the top two, winning only two out of their last five league games.
Arsene Wenger's men have scored 12 goals in these five games but the problem lies in defence where they have shipped six goals – five of them coming in two games against Tottenham and West Ham. If Arsenal are to keep their third spot intact, they will need to tighten up their defence.
The forwards haven't been able to inspire much confidence either with most of their goals having come from the midfielders. Therefore, the likes of Welbeck, Giroud and Walcott will have to prove a point.
Last 5 games: L-L-W-W-D (Last match: West Ham United 3-3 Arsenal)
Crystal Palace come into this game having lost just once in their last five games in all competitions. Whereas, in the league, they are unbeaten in their last five, having won three and drawn two.
But midweek's draw at home against Everton did not help them significantly. They are 8 points above the relegation zone. And with a tally of 38 points already, they seem to have booked a place in the Premier League for next season as well.
Their recent form has seen them excel in both the Premier League and the FA Cup. However, what might be a worrying factor for Pardew is their lack of goals upfront with the Eagles having only scored 5 goals in the last 5 league games which include two blanks. Meanwhile, defensively Pardew’s side look good having kept 3 clean sheets in these five games. In fact, the visitors will be confident of making a point that they can play against the big clubs as they travel to face Arsenal on Sunday.
Last 5 games: W-L-D-W-D (Last match: Crystal Palace 0-0 Everton)
- 3- Crystal Palace has managed to win only three of their 38 meetings with Arsenal.
- 2- The Gunners have won only two of their last five home league games.
- 6- Arsenal have won the last six games in this fixture.
- 7- The Eagles are without a win in their last seven away league games.
- 11- Olivier Giroud has failed to score in his last 11 Premier League games, his worst ever drought in Arsenal colors.
Yohan Cabaye vs Mesut Ozil
Cabaye has transformed into one of the key players at Palace and his performances have spoken for himself. But the one man that will take all the spotlight when the two teams collide will be the German Player of the Year, Mesut Ozil.
The German playmaker is enjoying his best season in England this term with 18 assists and 6 goals to his name in the league. All eyes will again be on the Arsenal man as he looks to chase Thierry Henry’s record of 20 assists.
However, Cabaye will be given the tough task of stopping Ozil and provide his forward players the chance to break on the counter. This clash in the middle of the park could well turn out to be the key factor in deciding which team prevails at the final whistle.
Crystal Palace did record their first win in 2016 last weekend to end a poor run of form which saw them fall to the 16th spot from being Champions League qualification contenders at the end of 2015. Whereas, for Arsenal, it has been an up-and-down season throughout.
However, when the two teams take the field on Sunday, Arsenal’s individual quality can make the difference for the hosts. It will be tough for the Eagles to keep possession at the Emirates, and Arsenal have enough players to make the difference. Hence, a victory for the home side.
Predicted score: Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace
Betting odds (bet365)
Arsenal – 4/11
Draw – 9/2
Crystal Palace – 17/2Published 17 Apr 2016, 11:33 IST