After a busy week of...well, of nothing substantive except a guy not being in training and a few other guys not being in their training and a whole lot of talk that has so far amounted to nothing, Arsenal get to do what they’re supposed to do this weekend, and actually play a game.
That game is against 12th place Crystal Palace, who have won two games in a row under Roy Hodgson, which makes two in their last five league games, which is twice as many as Arsenal have won in their last five league games. Despite being in 12th, Palace are a mere five points above the relegation places, so Roy’s team has work to do.
They’ll have to do that work against what I’m calling Team LANS - Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal will be ready to go tomorrow after their respective injury layoffs, and and hopefully Mesut Özil will be fit as well, although that one’s more of a doubt. I’m also guessing that Alexis Sanchez won’t be available for selection, for some crazy reason. Really going out on a limb there, I know.
Whoever is on the pitch, though, will need to show a bunch more life than the team did last weekend against Bournemouth if they want to avoid a second straight loss. Palace are pretty beat up right now; Andros Townsend, Jeffrey Schlupp, Mamadou Sakho, Joel Ward, Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon are all out.
This game has danger written all over it - both teams are far from solid at the back, Arsenal having conceded 30 goals and Palace 33, and while Palace does struggle to score (only 21 goals all season), with a leaky, mistake-prone Arsenal defense on the pitch, it really only takes one. Here’s hoping last weekend served as the metaphorical wake-up call that will kickstart the traditional Arsenal scramble up the table in the back half of the season.
Arsenal v. Crystal Palace
Saturday, January 20, 2018
7AM PT/10AM ET/3PM BT
Emirates Stadium, London