Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Preview: Struggling Gunners go in hunt of first win of 2018 against resurgent Eagles

Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Preview: Struggling Gunners go in hunt of first win of 2018 against resurgent Eagles

Can Arsenal overcome their recent struggles on Saturday as Crystal Palace arrive at the Emirates?

Matt Dawson

Arsenal welcome Crystal Palace to the Emirates Stadium this Saturday for a London derby full of intrigue, with both sides experiencing mixed fortunes this season.

The Gunners are in the throes of yet another period of discontent whilst conversely, Palace continue to defy their early season troubles and pose an interesting test for Arsene Wenger's team. 

Arsenal again struggling 

Arsenal are yet to win in 2018; Alexis Sanchez is off any minute it would seem - with the club currently sitting 23 points off Manchester City at the top of the table. As well as that, they are eight points adrift of the top four with just 11 wins from 23 Premier League games. 

To add further insult to injury, the Gunners are closer to the relegation zone than they are the top of the league. For Arsenal, they are in what is another difficult period - albeit in expectant fashion - but it has to be considered the worst time in Wenger's long tenure with the club. 

To put it simply Arsenal have to win against Crystal Palace this Saturday. However if their performance against struggling AFC Bournemouth last weekend without Sanchez and Mesut Ozil is anything to go by, then the Gunners are likely to find life tough even if they are playing in front of their own fans. 

It's a well known fact Arsenal have defensive issues, but in 2018 they've also been struggling to hit the target - something which will be of huge concern with Sanchez departing. Alexandre Lacazette is without a goal in nine matches whilst Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi showed very little signs of threatening against the Cherries last weekend. 

A busy week 

The defeat against the Cherries seems to have been a wake up call to Arsenal who this week have been very busy on the transfer front. The beginning of the week saw reports of Bordeaux's Malcolm arriving before news of the deal breaking down on Friday.

It was thought originally that a swap deal involving Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan would be completed in time for the weekend but that isn't the case - with Arsenal and Manchester United still working to conclude the transfer. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been strongly linked with Arsenal this week too but it isn't clear yet whether a deal can be struck. Theo Walcott's sale to Everton however was confirmed. 

Walcott was Arsenal's longest serving player but considering his lack of game time this season won't be a huge loss to the club on the pitch. What is of concern will be more goals departing the club as the North London side welcome Crystal Palace to the Emirates with limited attacking resources. 

Palace still on the up 

Palace's fortunes of late have been in stark contrast to both Arsenal's results and indeed their own fortunes earlier in the season. 

The Eagles started the season by losing their first seven matches of the new campaign without scoring a single goal. However Roy Hodgson's appointment has seen a complete turn around - taking a side destined to be relegated up to twelfth in the Premier League going into Saturday's encounter. 

Before the two team's last met - which was not even a month ago - Palace were on an eight match unbeaten streak before being beaten 3-2 at Selhurst Park. That game saw Sanchez dig the Gunners out of a hole, but he won't be there to do it on this occasion. 

However Hodgson's team still come into this game with a slight spring in their step after winning two of their last three, seeing off the challenge of Southampton and high flying Burnley. 

Team news

The Gunners received massive fitness boosts in the week with Wenger confirming that defenders Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal would be in contention to come back into the team on Saturday. 

Ozil could also return but Olivier Giroud remains a week away from being fit. Ainsley Maitland-Niles was struggling with flu this week and therefore Sead Kolasinac may come back in. 

Palace have a long injury list though and will travel across London without the services of defenders Scott Dann and Mamadou Sakho.

Meanwhile Andros Towsend and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will also miss the game with the latter possibly needing surgery on his ankle.