Results from the last five matches for the two teams in tomorrow’s fixture: 1 win, 2 draws, 2 losses | 2 wins, 3 draws. Which team is which you ask? The first is Arsenal. The second is Palace. Right now, Crystal Palace are in the midst of a better run of results than Arsenal.
The Gunners seem to be stuck in neutral. They played pretty well against United but ran into an otherworldly performance from David De Gea. They turned in two listless performances and got disappointing draws against Southampton and West Ham. They beat Newcastle, ho hum. They played pretty poorly (other than a five minute period of insanity) and stole a point against Liverpool.
Right now, Arsenal are having trouble stringing together solid performances, and with how close the race for the Champions League places is, inconsistency is something they can ill afford. And so the Gunners, once again, are in need of a win to keep pace with Tottenham and Liverpool (and more distantly, Chelsea).
But as previously noted, Crystal Palace are playing well. They are unbeaten in their last 8 Premier League matches and have taken 18 out of the last 36 points on offer. Let’s also not forget the 3-0 hiding Arsenal received in this fixture last year, a loss that more or less extinguished the Gunners’ European aspirations. This will not be an easy match.
Arsenal continue to be without the services of Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud due to hamstring injuries. Nacho Monreal is expected be out the next 10 days or so recovering from the ankle injury he sustained against Liverpool. Shkodran Mustafi will likely take Monreal’s place in the center of the Arsenal back four.
Palace defenders Mamadou Sakho and Joel Ward will not be available for selection. Striker Christian Benteke served his suspension against Swansea and should start.
Key for Arsenal tomorrow will be the play of Mesut Özil. The German has had a hand in nine goals in his last ten Premier League matches (4 goals, 5 assists). Especially with Aaron Ramsey out, Özil has been the primary creative force in the Arsenal attack and has looked every bit the dominant, game-changing player Arsenal supporters want him to be.
WHAT: Arsenal at Crystal Palace
WHERE: Selhurst Park, London
WHEN: Thursday, December 28th, 12 noon PT | 3 PM ET | 8 PM BST
US TV: NBCSN.
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