Thursday, 28 December 2017

Arsenal’s Trip To Crystal Palace Previewed

With all of the other challengers for runners up to Manchester City having played already it’s time for Arsenal to play catch up tonight. All the other teams won with the exception of United who dropped more points to give us hope that second place is a real target. Both Liverpool and Spurs scored five against teams struggling at the wrong end of the table while Chelsea won, but are still finding goals difficult to come by.

Memories of this game last season are hard to banish from my mind as Arsenal were at their very worst in a 3-0 defeat. Theo Walcott was the captain that night if memory serves me correctly and his comments after the game have played a part in his demise at the club in my opinion. As it stands it seems we might be about to offload him when the transfer window opens in a few days.

Palace have been on a very good run for the last couple of months and the fact that they’re not even in the relegation zone is a huge achievement considering they lost their first seven games without scoring a goal. As it stands they are unbeaten in eight games although they have drawn five of them while they are unbeaten in six at home with three draws in those games including a victory against Chelsea. When they beat Chelsea they didn’t have a point or a goal to their name and from what I saw of the game Chelsea paid the price for underestimating them.

It’s something Arsenal have been accused of far too often for my liking and it’s something they cannot afford to do tonight. Considering our inability to defend even at a basic level we have to be switched on from the very start tonight. We played a back four in that defeat at Palace last season and probably will do again tonight, but most of the time in between we have used a back five.

With Nacho Monreal our tonight I would expect to see Shkodran Mustafi in from the start as he has recovered from his injury. The big question is who will play at left back if it’s a back four and I can only assume Ainsley Maitland-Niles will get the nod ahead of the player who was voted the best left back in the Bundesliga last season.

For me I think Sead Kolasinac should play and AMN could maybe get a chance in the centre of midfield which is his natural position and a position where we are struggling badly at the moment. With Aaron Ramsey still injured it means we will see Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere play with Mesut Ozil dropping back to help them. There is no real balance in that trio and no recovery pace to help the defence between Xhaka and Wilshere, but maybe AMN could offer both of them to the team.

We were overrun in midfield by Liverpool in our last game for all but about 10 minutes, but we managed to do enough in that brief spell to get a 3-3 draw. We should really have lost by four or five goals and it’s difficult to believe we will somehow have improved defensively as a team since then. Palace might not be Liverpool, but they will cause us problems and I think we will have to score two or three goals tonight to have any hope of winning.

With three games to play in a week we can make or lose a lot of ground in the fight for second to sixth place. Three points tonight and agsinst West Brom in a few days would make the home game with Chelsea a less worrying prospect before we head into a month full of Cup and league games. It’s most certainly not beyond us, but who knows what you will get with this Arsenal team.

That’s it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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