Arsenal will be looking to return to winning ways in the Premier League as they take on Crystal Palace at The Emirates.
The Gunners lost their last game in the league as we slumped to a 1-0 loss to an impressive Sheffield United on Monday. It was perhaps the most demoralising performance since Unai Emery took over. No creativity and shown up for a lack of hunger in the face of a spirited Blades side, Emery will want to see far more effort in this game.
Arsenal’s home record is in complete contrast to our away form, which is still a massive worry as it has been since two seasons ago. So seeing this game at The Emirates is a big boost at least.
Palace will be no pushovers though, Roy Hodgson has his side well drilled, and they have one of the most impressive defensive records this season. Then there is the fact that last season and this one has seen the Eagles earn one of the most impressive away records outside of the top6 sides.
So we know that if we are to win the game, we need to play far better than we have been doing. Have we played well this season in any game in the Premier League? Does that mean we need a reshuffle?
Will Emery make the changes needed?
We have very few injury concerns, with only Reiss Nelson certain to miss out.
Emery has been clear in who he sees as his first choice for the league campaign, especially in defence. Instead of Rob Holding, David Luiz holds the shirt. In place of Hector Bellerin, we have had Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Calum Chambers. In place of Kieran Tierney, there has been Sead Kolasinac.
The result? Great performances in the Europa League and the cups, with our Premier League efforts on the ropes at times. Will Emery make the changes? With Tierney especially capable of changing the way we play with his outstanding deliveries from out wide, the obvious need for a shuffle is starting to gain weight with fans. But with these players having played on Thursday, Emery may opt for fresher legs.
In midfield, Granit Xhaka will most likely return after missing Thursday’s game, with Lucas Torreira probably the man to step aside. Jo Willock has come off at half time in our last two games, so could also miss out.
In attack, Emery has mentioned the lack of Mesut Ozil has been down to a ‘club strategy’ so that means we are unlikely to see him in the side, despite our lack of creativity.
Alexandre Lacazette is fit and we could see him start alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as Emery opts for strength in attack. Nicolas Pepe’s two goals against Vitoria may well give him the nod, and Emile Smith-Rowe played very well against the Portuguese side so could feature too.
Player to Watch
Patrick Van Aanholt
The Dutch wing-back is a real threat. He is known for his long range shooting exploits, but he is also a dead-ball expert and his stamina and pace means he is a constant outlet out wide for the Eagles. In order to shit him down, we need to keep him on the back foot. That means stretching the play and playing on the front foot, keeping his roving runs down to a minimum.
How This Could Go
The Eagles are stoic, they are incredibly hard to break down, but they have shown that if they concede, they can crumble. City showed this last month when they played them, maybe we could do the same.
We need to stay patient. If we don’t score in the first half – another of our specialities – then our crowd needs to get behind our boys instead of booing. We will create chances, but what about our penchant for giving away shots at the back?
Jordan Ayew has found his shooting boots recently, and Wilfried Zaha needs no invitation, so if we are too gratuitous in giving away territory, we will suffer.
It’s time to inflict our style upon proceedings, and do away with this passive Arsenal. We have the means to do damage, it would be great to see it actually happen.
Predicted Lineup – Leno, Chambers, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Pepe, Saka, Aubameyang
Predicted Score – 2-1 to The Arsenal