Arsenal host Crystal Palace at the Emirates hopefully refreshed, recharged, and ready to break out of their funk that has seen them win just one of their last five games in the Premier League. The Gunners catch a bit of a break facing Palace, who might be a bit leggy after their loss in an FA Cup replay midweek to Everton. Roy Hodgson’s side is in arguably worse form than Mikel Arteta’s — they’ve won just two PL matches since the start of October.
But they recently snatched a 2-2 draw at Manchester City and have also shared the points with Brighton and West Ham. They’re a well-organized, stubborn side and won’t be a pushover. And that’s before you account for Arsenal’s scoring woes. The Gunners need to get off to a fast start. The longer the game stays even, or god forbid they go behind early, the more nervous and impatient the Emirates crowd will get.
When the two sides met earlier this season, the Gunners prevailed on the strength of a Martin Ødegaard penalty. Arsenal went down a man less than 15 minutes after going up a goal when Takehiro Tomiyasu was assessed two quick, soft yellow cards — one for holding the ball for 8 seconds before taking a throw after receiving it from Kai Havertz, who had held it for 20 seconds and a second for the slightest grab of Jordan Ayew, who made an absolute meal of the contact, dressing it up significantly to get the fullback sent off.
Arsenal won’t have to deal with that particular thorn in their side — Ayew is away at AFCON. His absence is a particular relief to me, as someone who absolutely cannot stand Ayew’s pesky, chippy play and Teflon-like resistance to receiving yellow cards. Winger Jesurun Rak-Sakyi is unavailable as well.
The Gunners will be without the usual suspects — Jurrien Timber, Thomas Partey, and Fabio Vieira. The first two are still well away from making a return to action. Vieira should be back in the next few matches. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Mohamed Elneny are both away on international duty. Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus, who both went into the mid-season break carrying injuries, return to the lineup for Mikel Arteta.
There’s no two ways about it: Arsenal need a win. They’re in danger of losing touch with the teams at the top of the table, and they need to put together a run of form and results if they want to challenge for the title. Three points at home against a struggling Crystal Palace side is a must. There are some that have already written off the Gunners’ lofty aspirations this season. I haven’t. But if Arsenal fall flat today, may tune might have to start switching.
WHAT: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace
WHERE: The Emirates Stadium, London
WHEN: Saturday, January 20th, 4:30 am PT | 7:30 am ET | 12:30 pm GMT
HOW TO WATCH: Broadcast live on The USA Network. Streaming on NBCSports.com
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Arsenal - Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Rice Havertz, Ødegaard, Saka, Trossard, Jesus
⚪️— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 20, 2024
Trossard on the wing
Jesus leads the line
Let's get back to winning ways, Gunners ✊ pic.twitter.com/sG1wOYXyGn
Crystal Palace - Henderson, Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell, Richards, Lerma, Hughes, Eze, Schlupp, Mateta