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Preview: Crystal Palace v Arsenal: trio ruled out, Sanchez out/Welbeck in + prediction

By on December 28, 2017

sead-kolasinac-arsenal

Arsenal will look to keep in touch with the top four when we take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park this evening.

We currently sit sixth in the Premier League table and four points adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool after they thrashed Swansea City on Boxing Day so we desperately need a win to close the gap.

The 3-3 draw with Liverpool last Friday means we’ve won just one of our last five league games and that certainly isn’t the type of form that’s going to see us overhaul Liverpool and Tottenham.

We’ll face a Palace side this evening that are unbeaten in their last eight games and have climbed out of the relegation zone so they are now a tough side to beat under Roy Hodgson.

Team News

Aaron Ramsey misses out once again due to a hamstring injury so Jack Wilshere should continue in the middle of the park this evening.

Nacho Monreal has also been ruled out after picking up an ankle injury during the draw with Liverpool so Shkodran Mustafi is expected to get a recall at the back.

Olivier Giroud has been ruled out until the middle of January with a hamstring injury so Alexandre Lacazette is set to lead the line up front.

As for Palace, they welcome Christian Benteke back from suspension but Mamadou Sakho is out with a calf strain.

Preferred line-up

I’d stick with a back four but I’d like to see Sead Kolasinac return at left-back. Arsene Wenger has said he prefers Kolasinac in the wing-back role but suggests he’s not convinced by him at left-back, hence why Ainsley Maitland-Niles has started in recent weeks.

These comments are baffling as surely a left wing-back is more suited to playing left-back than a right-footed central midfielder?! Maitland-Niles has done well but I’d still go with Kolasinac.

I’d also like to see Wenger go with a diamond in midfield and two up front. Alexis Sanchez has been a passenger for most of the season and he doesn’t deserve to keep his place so I’d drop him.

Long-term I’d love to see Ramsey and Wilshere in front of Xhaka with Mesut Ozil in the number 10 position but while the Welshman is out we could give Mohamed Elneny a chance as he’d give the midfield some balance.

Up front with Giroud out I’d like Danny Welbeck to partner Lacazette as their movement and pace would cause Palace all sorts of problems, particularly with Ozil supplying the passes.

This would be my line-up:

Prediction

We lost this fixture 3-0 last season but that was our first defeat to Palace in 12 games so we’ve had a great record at Selhurst Park in recent times. The worry is our away form has been woeful this season as we’ve won just twice away from the Emirates. That form clearly needs to improve if we’re to finish in the top four and I’m backing the boys to edge this one. Palace 1-2 Arsenal

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