After dropping two precious points in the title race with the midweek 2-2 draw against Southampton, Arsenal will be looking to bounce back when Crystal Palace visit on Sunday. The lacklustre draw meant Man City were able to pounce and regain top spot after an emphatic 5-1 victory over the Gunners’ north London rivals, Tottenham.
The last time Arsenal played Crystal Palace, the Eagles’ were managerless after Ian Holloway’s departure in October, and Arsene Wenger’s men eased to a 2-0 victory at Selhurst Park. However, they will be expecting a much tougher test this time around against a resurgent Palace side, now managed by Tony Pulis.
Palace come into this game off the back of a 1-0 victory over Hull, which moved them up to 14 in the league after Jason Puncheon continued his goalscoring form since his shocking penalty miss against Tottenham last month, to seal the three points for Pulis’ side. Another man who has rediscovered his form under new management is former Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh, who returns to the Emirates for the first time since departing last summer. The Moroccan will have a point to prove after a disappointing three-year spell with the Gunners’, which saw him score just 14 goals in 67 appearances.
The fixture provides the first hurdle of a daunting month for Arsenal, in which a run of fixtures, that include ties against Liverpool and Man United in the league, Bayern Munich in the Champions League and Liverpool again in the FA Cup, will truly test Arsenal’s credentials this season. With City squaring up to Chelsea on Monday, the chance of dropped points for one or both of their title rivals, mean it is imperative that Arsenal get the three points in this match, which would return them to the top, if only temporarily.
However, the depth of Wenger’s squad continues to be tested, and the Gunners’ will be without the injured Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey for this match, while Mathieu Flamini is suspended. Neither side are yet to make any moves of merit in the transfer window, with Pulis left largely frustrated by failed attempts, and it remains to be seen whether Arsenal can pull off their pursuit of Schalke’s Julian Draxler before the window shuts.
KICK-OFF: Sunday, 4.00pm
Crystal Palace 0 Arsenal 2 (Arteta, Giroud), Premier League, October 2013
Arsenal 5 (Bergkamp, Reyes, Henry 2, Vieira) Crystal Palace 1 (Johnson), Premier League, February 2005.
Crystal Palace 1 (Riihilahti) Arsenal 1(Henry), Premier League, November 2004.
Crystal Palace 1 (Dyer) Arsenal 2 (Anelka, Bergkamp), FA Cup, February 1998.
Arsenal 1 (Grimandi) Crystal Palace 0, Premier League, February 1998.
After Mathieu Flamini’s red card against Southampton, Arsenal have now collected 74 red cards in the Premier League. Only Everton (77) and Blackburn (76) have more.
Since Tony Pulis took over a Palace, they have averaged 1.38 points per match, compared to 0.58 before his arrival.
After failing to keep a clean sheet in their first 10 matches this season, Palace have kept 7 in the subsequent 13.
Palace right-back Joel Ward has an average of 3.9 tackles per game, the most of any regular right-back in the Premier League this season.
Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker has the highest pass succession rate in the league at 92.8%, with 924 successful passes out of 996 attempted ones.
Arsenal to win: 1.23
Crystal Palace to win: 18.5
TV: Live on Sky Sports 1 HD at 4:00pm. Highlights on BBC1 on Monday at 10.35pm.