Pundit Chris Sutton has backed Arsenal to see off Crystal Palace in the Premier League at the Emirates on Sunday (March 19).
The Gunners are coming off a disappointing exit from the UEFA Europa League in the Round of 16 against Sporting CP. They lost 5-3 on penalties at home on Thursday (March 16) after a 3-3 aggregate draw.
Palace, meanwhile, are winless in 11 Premier League games, losing six. They did, however, put up a decent showing in their 1-0 losses against Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion in their last two outings.
In his column for the BBC, Sutton predicted the result for Arsenal's clash against Palace. Notably, he did so before the Gunners' exit from the Europa League. Pointing out Palace's poor form, Sutton wrote:
"On paper, you might look at this and think a straightforward home win, but it rarely works out that way when Arsenal play Palace. The Eagles have not been beaten at the Emirates on any of their past four visits, drawing three and winning one. Palace are on a long winless run and have not even managed a shot on target for a while, but I am not so worried about them going down."
"They still have to play all eight of the teams below them in the table, and they picked up 16 points out of a possible 24 against them earlier in the season. The question here is whether Palace can hold out, and they showed against Manchester City last weekend that they are not easy to break down - it took until the 78th minute for City to score with a penalty."
Speaking ahead of Arsenal's clash against Sporting CP, Sutton highlighted the importance of focusing on the Premier League for Mikel Arteta. He wrote:
"So, it is not going to be easy for the Gunners - they will have to watch out for counterattacks too - but I am still expecting them to win. Their focus has to be on this game, rather than the Europa League. Usually I'd advocate going for every competition but not now, with the finish line of the title race in sight."
"I will be watching Thursday's game with Sporting Lisbon with great interest because an injury to Bukayo Saka or Gabriel Martinelli could be very costly. I just don't think it's worth the risk. Win this, and Arsenal go into April eight points clear with 10 games to go. That would be enormous for them as they go into the home straight, and I think at least one of their players will step up again to make sure it happens."
Arsenal did, unfortunately, pick up two injuries in the Sporting game. Takehiro Tomiyasu was seen on crutches after the game, while William Saliba seemed to have picked up a knock too.
Arsenal hope to put their European disappointment aside to consolidate Premier League position
It was a disappointing night for Arsenal in their 1-1 draw in the second leg against Sporting CP in the Europa League.
They had multiple chances to score but were thwarted by Antonio Adan, who pulled off some stunning saves. The Gunners eventually lost on penalties after Adan saved Gabriel Martinelli's effort.
Arsenal, though, now need to brush off the disappointment and focus on Crystal Palace as they lead the Premier League. With a win, they will go eight points clear of Manchester City, who will have a game in hand, going into the international break.
The Cityzens host Burnley in the FA Cup quarterfinals on Saturday (March 18).