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Arsenal v Palace Preview, Injury News, Preferred XI & Prediction
Arsenal take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday hoping to open up a five point gap at the top of the Premier League.
We are currently sitting two points clear of Chelsea and with the Blues facing a tough game against third-placed Manchester City on Sunday, we’ve got an excellent opportunity to cement our status as Premier League leaders this weekend.
A 4-1 win over Norwich last week was followed up by a disappointing 2-1 loss at home to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. We were second best in the first half but completely dominated the second period before being hit by a sucker-punch goal on the break by Robert Lewandowski.
It should be viewed as a learning experience and not something we should be too downbeat about. We’re still unbeaten in the league since the opening day and haven’t lost away from home in 13, so should still be hugely confident heading into this game.
But we can’t be sure of how the Palace players will respond to Ian Holloway leaving the club this week. The Eagles have looked a poor side so far this season, losing seven of their eight games, but losing a manager can bring the best out of players sometimes so we can’t go taking them too lightly.
Mathieu Flamini is back after missing the Dortmund game. The Frenchman was forced to watch from the sidelines after suffering concussion against Norwich but he should come straight back in tomorrow.
Who’ll be playing alongside him is an interesting one though. The likeliest candidate is probably Mikel Arteta, but I’d prefer to see Aaron Ramsey start in the middle and give Arteta a rest. I think our best partnership is Flamini-Ramsey, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsene Wenger opted to start Arteta.
Jack Wilshere will face a late fitness test after suffering an ankle knock against Dortmund. He should be fine though and I’d like to see a front three of Wilshere, Ozil and Cazorla start behind Giroud. Santi should certainly start having looked sharp in midweek and Mesut is almost certain to play despite the boss revealing he was suffering from sickness during the week.
We have no new injury worries so the likes of Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remain on the treatment table.
Some have suggested we should make changes and rest some players for the Palace game but with a Capital One Cup game on Tuesday against Chelsea – who will be putting out a weakened side as the game is less than 48 hours after their clash with Man City – I think we should put our best team out in the league and play the likes of Vermaelen, Jenkinson, Monreal and Bendtner in midweek.
Nothing but three points will do this weekend. We simply have to win these games if we have any desires about challenging for the title. Palace’s defence has looked terrible this season, conceding four against Fulham at home last time out, so the likes of Ozil, Giroud and Cazorla could have a field-day.
Arsenal 3-0 Palace. COYG!
What are your thoughts on the game? Will we win or slip up?