That’s three straight wins over Chelsea. The league double this season and the FA Cup from last season which felt more like the start of this season. A fortunate goal for sure, possibly a course correction for the goal gifted to Everton a few weeks back. But regardless of how it came, that’s three straight victories in the league, with a combined score of six to one.
Arsenal can still finish anywhere between 6th and 11th and will be confident they can pick up six points in this final stretch of the season. Even if Mikel Arteta can lead the team to five straight league wins they will need several favorable results elsewhere to have any hope of sneaking back into European competition or finishing ahead of Tottenham.
Crystal Palace is in 13th place having won two of their last three matches, including a comeback victory against Aston Villa this past weekend. It’s been an uneventful season for Palace, stuck in the middle of the table (14th last year), but well safe from relegation. It’s their final home match of the season and with it comes the return of fans at Selhurst Park. 6,500 are expected for the midweek match against Arsenal and after more than a year of empty stadiums, it will feel like the place is packed and full of life once again.
- Alexandre Lacazette
- Gabriel Martinelli
- Martin Odegaard
- Dani Ceballos
- Calum Chambers
- Pablo Mari
- Mat Ryan
- Left Out: Dani Ceballos, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson, & Alex Runarsson
- Out: David Luiz & Granit Xhaka
- In the team training video, Granit Xhaha wasn’t featured. Now that doesn’t indicate his status one way or another, and even in his press conference Mikel Arteta’s comments could be read either as Xhaka remains out or is in contention “No big changes. I think everybody is fit apart from David, let’s see how Granit is as well, but for the rest I think they are okay.” For now, I’m sticking with Granit as unavailable until the team confirms his return. If he is fit, I’d have him alongside Thomas Partey, Elneny on the bench, and Dani Ceballos in the stands.
- Not a huge amount of change in the Arsenal starting XI after that result over Chelsea, but instead an emphasis on being more attack-minded. Instead of the front two, Pepe is brought in for a defender, Smith Rowe into the center of the attack and Saka out wide. Lacazette looks fit again, but I’d expect Aubameyang to start with Lacazette used as a sub in the second half.
- That midfield duo frustrated Chelsea and you’d expect them to replicate that against Crystal Palace, who have dangerous pieces but are nowhere near the collective threat that Chelsea presented. With Ceballos’ exit confirmed, there is no reason to play him here. In fact, if Granit isn’t available I’d even consider putting Miguel Azeez on the bench as the midfield substitute.
- Kieran Tierney, Gabriel, Rob Holding. That is probably the start of your backline heading into next season, barring any injuries. It remains to be seen what happens with Saliba and Mavropanos, but Arteta has found a defensive foundation. The Gunners have gone six league games without letting in more than a single goal per match. The only question for Wednesday is Bellerin. I have him starting at the moment, but that is probably sentiment winning out. He and the club could have decided that he is staying off the pitch unless there is an injury need to avoid any setbacks to a summer transfer out of the club this summer. Personally however I hope to see Hector in the Arsenal kit at least once more during these final two matches.
- There might be some calls to see more academy players in the XI or on the bench for these last two matches - Folarin Balogun, Miguel Azeez, Nikolaj Moller, or even that senior player you may have forgotten about, Reiss Nelson. 6th place is still attainable, finishing ahead of Spurs, and a spot in the coveted inaugural Europa Conference League. But simply ending the season with five straight league wins is motivation enough after a tough season and looking towards a busy summer of roster reconstruction.
How to watch
Wednesday (5/19) at 2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT on Peacock Premium.
Arsenal - 2
Crystal Palace - 1
Can the Gunners make it four in a row in the league? Who are you starting in the penultimate match of the season and what is your scoreline prediction?