Crystal Palace will be looking to gain a vital three points as they entertain Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side at Selhurst Park this evening.
Sam Allardyce’s side will know three points will be huge in their battle against the drop. With Swansea and Hull City losing at the weekend another big win over a top six side would be morale boosting for the Eagles.
For Arsenal, the game at Selhurst is vitally important in their quest for Champions League football next season. After Manchester United’s victory at Sunderland on Sunday, the Gunners now trail Jose Mourinho’s men by three points and then they are seven adrift of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, who currently occupy the last Champions League place.
It’s been a torrid time for Arsenal recently; two wins in their last six games has seriously damaged their hopes of securing European football, and with Wenger’s future still up in the air, it’s not the best time to be an Arsenal fan.
The Eagles looking to beat the Gunners at home for the first time since 1979
After getting a huge result at champions-elect Chelsea last weekend, Palace couldn’t back it up on the South Coast in midweek as a late show from Southampton has put yet more pressure on Palace getting a result against one of the big boys.
It seems Allardyce’s methods are finally becoming apparent, after a tricky start where he failed to win, the former Sunderland and England manager is finally starting to see that defensive solidity that has been lacking at Palace all season.
Prior to the loss at St. Marys the Eagles were on a four game winning streak, and during that time they only conceded that early Cesc Fabregas goal at Stamford Bridge. The methods are working, and with the arrivals in January proving to be a big hit still have destiny in their own hands.
The arrival of Mamadou Sakho has certainly helped; the loanee from Liverpool has been superb since arriving. And coupled with Wilfried Zaha’s impressive form Palace certainly have the tools to cause Arsenal some problems.
But Allardyce will be without a whole host of first team players for the visit of Arsenal. Patrick Van Aanholt, Yohan Cabaye, James Tomkins, Scott Dann, and Loic Remy all will be missing. On top of that Connor Wickham and Pape Souare remain long term absentees.
But, James McArthur and Joe Ledley could be ready to return, as could Frazier Campbell. But Palace is extremely thin on the ground as they face a Arsenal looking to close the gap on their rivals.
Wenger without first choice keepers
It certainly hasn’t been easy for Wenger this year, some would argue that’s it’s been his hardest season to date at Arsenal.
The demoralising collapse in the Champions League to Bayern Munich, coupled with some truly shocking performances in the league has seen Wenger’s future under immense scrutiny from fans.
It’s thought there is a two-year deal on the table for Wenger, but the Frenchman has been reluctant to let people know his plans as of yet. But with European football looking under threat, Wenger’s future is as questionable as it has been since he stepped through the door at Arsenal.
Over the years, Arsenal genuinely does well at Selhurst. They haven’t lost since 1979. But with a few injuries to key players it could be a tricky evening in South London. First choice keepers Petr Cech and David Ospina are injured, so young Emiliano Martinez will again deputise.
Another integral player of their team will play no part in the game this evening. Laurent Koscielny has suffered a minor Achilles injury, so Arsenal will have to be dogged to engineer a result at what will be a loud and no doubt passionate Selhurst.