Crystal Palace v Arsenal: Premier League Match Preview
Crystal Palace host Arsenal in the Premier League at Selhurst Park tonight (8.00pm kick-off UK time).
The Eagles are in 16th position in the Premier League table, with 18 points from 19 matches.
Their 1-1 draw with Swansea City on Saturday extended their club record unbeaten run in the Premier League to eight games but they slipped to 16th in the table.
Only Manchester City (28) and Liverpool (11) are on longer unbeaten runs in the Premier League than the Eagles.
Palace have only kept one clean sheet in the 13 home Premier League matches since their 3-0 win over Arsenal at Selhurst Park in April.
After losing their first three home Premier League matches of the season without scoring, Crystal Palace are unbeaten in their last six at Selhurst Park (W3 D3) and have scored two goals in each match.
Arsenal are in 6th position in the Premier League table, with 34 points from 19 matches.
The Gunners are three points behind rivals Tottenham Hotspur who are in 5th place and four points adrift of Liverpool who are in the fourth and final Champions League berth, albeit with tonight’s match in hand.
Arsenal have lost just won of their last eight matches (W4, D3).
The Gunners have won just two away league games this season – their joint-fewest tally after nine games of a Premier League season.
Arsenal’s 11 league defeats in 2017 is a Premier League-high under Arsene Wenger.
Their tally of 48 goals conceded is the most in a calendar year in the top-flight since 1984 when they let in 57.
Arsenal will also be looking to avenge their 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in the corresponding fixture last season. That was a particular low-point as the Gunners missed out on a top 4 Premier League finish.
Arsenal had a thrilling Premier League encounter with Liverpool on Friday night that ended 3-3. The Gunners scored three goals in just five second-half minutes.
They had been trailing 2-0 after Philippe Coutinho scored his first headed league goal in England before Mohamed Salah added a second early in the second half with a deflected strike.
But Arsenal suddenly came alive as Alexis Sanchez headed in Hector Bellerin’s cross from close range before Granit Xhaka’s thumping strike was too powerful for Simon Mignolet’s weak save. Two minutes later Mesut Ozil put Arsenal ahead with a neat clip over Mignolet.
Roberto Firmino scored with 19 minutes remaining to earn Liverpool a draw.
The Gunners have kept a clean sheet in all three of their Premier League London derbies this season and can go four London derbies without conceding for the first time since February 1999.
Crystal Palace have won only one of their last 12 home league matches against Arsenal (D5 L6), though it was a 3-0 victory in this exact fixture last season.
Arsenal have only failed to score in two of their last 19 league matches against Crystal Palace: the 0-3 loss last season and a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park in October 1997.
Mesut Ozil has scored in back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time since December 2016.
Petr Cech is one short of becoming the first goalkeeper to keep 200 Premier League clean sheets.
Arsene Wenger will hope that the return of Shkodran Mustafi will strengthen Arsenal’s defence. The German was part of the Gunners defence who endured a torrid night when the teams met at Selhurst Park in April.
Wilfried Zaha has been showing the sort of form that earned him a big money move to Manchester United and is pressing his claim for inclusion in England’s 2018 World Cup squad.
No player has scored more penalties in the Premier League this season than midfielder Luka Milivojevic (three, level with Sergio Aguero and Wayne Rooney).
On loan from Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been an integral part of Palace’s unbeaten run. He has been in impressive form since earning his first senior England international caps in the autumn friendly matches.
“We’re trying to chip away at those first seven games when we had zero points.
“It’s an enormous handicap to give yourself and we have a big minus goal difference as well.
“We know that’s what we’ve got coming; that’s what we’ve got to try to find a way of trying to deal with and the only advantage we have is the fact that it is at home where our fans do give us enormous support and also they’re sensible fans they realise that we have got a big job on our hands, they will be expecting us to give our all against Arsenal.
“But they won’t necessarily be expecting that we are going to go out there and take Arsenal apart because they know what wealth and riches they possess compared to us; a much more modest Premier League team.”
Wenger takes charge of his 810th Premier League game, equalling Sir Alex Ferguson’s record.
This is what Wenger had to say about Arsenal’s current form.
“What we want is to stop conceding goals, stop missing chances, but as well I want the team to continue to play with the same spirit, the same determination and the same love of the game.
“That is for me important and is maybe the best way not to concede goals anymore.
“We should be higher [in the table] of course and we are not happy where we are, and we have to correct it. We do not play and put the effort in to be where we are, we want to be higher up.
“We have been very consistent at home and the quality of our performances has been absolutely fantastic.
“We lost one game that even a neutral observer would concede that we had an outstanding performance in a unique game that we lost. Overall I believe the consistency is not in question.
“We have to find a balance, we are an offensive team and we take a gamble and a risk and we stand up for that but we have maybe to find a better balance between offensive and defensive efficiency.
“We always have a high number of players in front of the ball. If you look at the league you can analyse it in that way. You take team after team, how many players are in front of the ball when you attack?
“We are one of the teams in the league who has the most players in front of the ball when we attack, that means that for us to get back quickly and defend quickly and transition is absolutely vital.”
This is what Wenger had to say about the January transfer window.
“I would scrap the transfer window in January, completely cut it off.
“The players today are very well paid, they make a lot of money. What you want in return is commitment to the club for the whole season. I think that’s absolutely vital. I think you should not be able to move once the season has started until the end of the season.
“Nobody knows [how it would affect pre-season if the window closed then]. I believe people would adapt and make their decisions earlier.
“What happens now is that you’re contacted 48 hours before the end of the transfer market and people ask if you’re still interested in a player you worked on for three months. They close the door and open it suddenly with two days to go.
“It’s all rushed decisions and hectic in the last week. I believe that is not right.
“I will be busy, yes, because first of all you have clubs that call you to get players on loan or to buy your players, and as well I’m open-minded to any possibility to strengthen our team.
“But honestly we have not been approached by anyone [for Alexis] and I’ll just stick to what I said before [that I want him to stay].”
The Eagles welcome back Christian Benteke after the striker served a one-game suspension. The Belgium international missed the 1-1 draw with Swansea on Saturday, but will likely return to the side.
Mamadou Sakho remains sidelined so Scott Dann will continue at centre back and Martin Kelly is expected to fill in at right-back again with Joel Ward injured.
Shkodran Mustafi is set to return to the starting line-up after replacing Nacho Monreal at half-time in the draw with Liverpool on Friday.
Monreal joins Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud on the sidelines.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Simon Bennett, Daniel Cook
Fourth official: Graham Scott
Arsenal to win 2-1.