Arsenal v Crystal Palace: Premier League Match Preview
Arsenal host Crystal Palace for their Premier League clash at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon (3.00pm kick-off UK time).
All Premier League matches this weekend will hold a minute of applause before kick-off,and players will wear black armbands, in tribute to former West Bromwich Albion and England forward Cyrille Regis.
Regis, a pioneer for black footballers in the game, died aged 59 on Sunday.
It is understood the Premier League took the decision for today’s tribute, after a request from the Professional Footballers’ Association on Thursday.
Back to transfer dealings and onfield matters.
The build up to today’s match has been dominated by the transfer saga involving Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United.
The deal has yet to be completed with Henrikh Mkhitaryan reported to be moving the other way.
Reports this morning suggest that Sanchez could have a medical today ahead of his proposed move to Old Trafford.
Arsenal are also pursuing the signature of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyan from Borussia Dortmund, and earlier this week sold Theo Walcott to Everton.
The Gunners are in 6th place in the Premier League, with 39 points after 23 matches.
Defeat to AFC Bournemouth last Sunday means that are now without a win in five games in all competitions, and are eight points adrift of Liverpool who are in fourth place in the Premier League.
Their last victory was against today’s opponents. A 3-2 win at Selhurst Park on 28th December 2017.
The Gunners goals that night were scored by Shkodran Mustafi and the wantaway Alexis Sanchez (2). The Eagles replied through Andros Townsend and James Tomkins.
Since then the Gunners have managed just two points from three league games, have fallen 23 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, as well as suffering a cup upset at Championship side Nottingham Forest.
They have taken only 11 points from the last 27 available to them in the league and have won only one of their last four games at the Emirates Stadium, having been victorious in the previous 12.
Arsenal have conceded 10 goals in their last five league matches.
The Gunners have scored in each of their last 25 home Premier League matches, their longest run since scoring in 29 in a row between April 2007 and November 2008.
Crystal Palace start the day in 12th place in the Premier League table, with 25 points from 23 matches.
They continued their revival since Roy Hodgson was appointed manager with a 1-0 win over Burnley at Selhurt Park last weekend.
That victory was their 50th at home in the Premier League.
After losing eight consecutive away Premier League matches, Crystal Palace are unbeaten in their last five on the road (W2 D3). Only Liverpool (six) are on a longer run without defeat away from home.
They can today equal their top-flight club record of six successive away games without defeat.
Palace’s only defeat in their last 12 league matches came in the reverse fixture against Arsenal last month (W5, D6, L1).
The Eagles could win their opening three league fixtures of a calendar year for the first time since 2002, when they were a second tier side
Crystal Palace’s only victory in the past 16 league and cup meetings was by 3-0 at Selhurst Park last season (W1, D4, L11).
Palace’s sole away league victory at Arsenal was a 2-1 triumph in October 1994, when John Salako scored both of the Eagles’ goals.
Arsenal have never failed to score in 17 home league matches against Crystal Palace, netting 39 in total, at an average of 2.3 a match.
Despite the run of poor results, Jack Wilshere has had a run of matches and been Arsenal’s best performer in recent weeks. He has been offered an extension on his contract and is pushing for a recall to the England squad.
Bakary Sako has scored more goals in all competitions than any other Crystal Palace player, with his strike against Burnley last Saturday being his sixth of the season..
“I am confident but it is down to our performance. Crystal Palace were in a good run before we [last] played them and since they have had positive results again, so we just have to focus on our performance.
“I agree completely that 2018 until now has not been very positive but I am long enough in the job to know that what is important is how we respond to it and to focus on the performance.
“My personal situation is a bit secondary to all of that, what is important is how the team responds and what we make of 2018.
‘We have many challenges, it is difficult at the moment, but as well very exciting because we have many challenges in front of us and we can come back in the Champions League.
“We of course play the semi-final (of the Carabao Cup) next week and after we have the Europa League as well, which is another target, so we have to very quickly get over this transfer period because for us especially this period has been more disturbing than ever.
“Because we have big players that are at the end of their contract and that is the first time that it happens, that we have such influential players close to the end of their contracts and it has been more destabilising than ever.
“Of course it occupies you on the pitch, off the pitch and at night as well because you’re very busy. After that, I think I can deal with the kind of stress it creates. The experience I have helps me to focus on what is important at the right moment.”
Hodgson has never won an away Premier League London derby (W0 D3 L7), losing each of his last four.
“The fact is we’re still in a relegation battle, we’re not alone now, we’re a little bit less isolated than we were some weeks and months ago and we’re happy, of course, about that.
“We’re not looking up at all the teams above us but we’re still in a bigger group of teams now who must be aware that unless they can keep their form going, unless they can keep points coming in, unless they can keep performances at the very highest level, they’re going to be involved in a scrap to stay in the league right to the end.
“I think there are managers like Arsene who deserve the utmost respect because of what he’s done in the game of football, not least here in England.
“He’s a record-breaker in almost every category and basically the only person in my era who could really hold his hand up and say ‘this guy and I are in the same category’ is Alex Ferguson.
“He’s been criticised many times in the past but he could lose the next 50 games he ever plays and it certainly wouldn’t change one bit my respect for him as a manager, my respect for him as a person and in particular my respect for the job he’s done at Arsenal, which is something quite outstanding.
“It’s easy for me to empathise or say good things about a guy like Arsene Wenger because I can’t really understand what there is to say that is not good about him
Danny Welleck is set to miss today’s match after suffering a minor muscle injury in training.
Laurent Koscielny (Achilles), Nacho Monreal (ankle) and Mesut Ozil (knee) are all set to return.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (flu) is a doubt, while Olivier Giroud (thigh) and Santi Cazorla (heel) remain out.
Joel Ward and Yohan Cabaye. are set to return.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jeffrey Schlupp (ankle), Andros Townsend (also ankle), Mamadou Sakho (calf), Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon (both knee) have been ruled out.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Assistants: Peter Kirkup, Adam Nunn
Fourth official: Andre Marriner
Arsenal to claim a first win of 2018 2-1.