Goalgist

Arsenal are set to resume their Premier League campaign on Monday as they lock horns with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Arsenal travel to Selhurst Park on Monday, hoping to build on their narrow victory over Aston Villa from before the international break. They are facing a daunting task against a Crystal Palace side managed by Gunners legend Patrick Vieira.

Mikel Arteta’s men have done a marvellous job since the turn of the year. They have expertly made use of the fixture list, overpowering every inferior side to emerge as one of the frontrunners in the race for the fourth spot.

Arsenal’s record against top sides leaves a lot to be desired, but they deserve credit for remaining resilient and clinical against lower-ranked opponents. Arteta will be hoping for a similar output when his side takes on Palace on Monday. It is a must-win encounter for the visitors, especially with Tottenham Hotspur breathing down their necks.

Crystal Palace, though, are no slouch. They are unbeaten in their last six competitive matches, notably booking a place in the FA Cup semi-finals in the process.

Although the Eagles are currently 12th in the Premier League table, they have what it takes to pull off a surprise against their fellow London rivals, having held them to a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture back in October. Arteta’s men cannot afford a similar result this time around and are likely to come out all guns blazing at Selhurst Park this Monday.

Team News & Tactics
Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace are sweating over the fitness of their key creative players in Michael Olise and Wilfried Zaha. Neither of them had trained in midweek, and although the coach suspects they could return to action on Monday, they are unlikely to be risked in this contest.

With Olise and Zaha missing, Odsonne Edouard and Jordan Ayew could be given starts out wide, thus forming a Palace front three comprising mainly of centre forwards. It will be interesting how this could impact the game, especially when it comes to probing the opposition defence.

There shouldn’t be any changes in the middle of the park, with Eberechi Eze partnering with Conor Gallagher in the advanced midfield positions. They will be covered by the astute defensive presence of Cheikhou Kouyate, although Luka Milivojevic could be a dark horse for this game.

Milivojevic is an expert in set-pieces, and given the lack of aerial prowess among the Arsenal defenders, it could be an interesting avenue for coach Patrick Vieira.

Speaking of defence, Vieira has very little reason to make any changes to the side that secured a 4-0 win over Everton in the FA Cup just before the international break. Joachim Andersen, in particular, could play a vital role with his technical ability on the ball, whereas the onus will be on Nathaniel Clyne and Tyrick Mitchel to offer width going forward.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Guaita; Clyne, Andersen, Guéhi, Mitchell; Gallagher, Kouyaté, Eze; Ayew, Mateta, Édouard

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Arsenal
Aaron Ramsdale has returned to individual training for Arsenal, but he still remains a major doubt for the clash against Crystal Palace. His potential absence could once again see Bernd Leno start for the Gunners, hoping to maintain his solid form from before the international break.

Arsenal may also miss out on Takehiro Tomiyasu yet again as the Japanese international has not been spotted during training. His continued absence guarantees a place for Cedric Soares in the starting XI. Hence, there shouldn’t be any defensive changes from the side that faced Aston Villa before the international break.

Arteta has kept a settled side for quite a while now. So it is difficult to envision any changes elsewhere either, with Thomas Partey set to continue his midfield partnership alongside Granit Xhaka.

In the attack, Arsenal will be boosted by the return of Bukayo Saka, who has recovered from COVID-19 and has featured in training heading into this contest. He remains a guaranteed starter on the right flank, with Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli set to complete the club’s attacking trifecta.

Alexandre Lacazette should lead the line, as usual. Although the Frenchman has scored only one goal since the turn of the year, his leadership and work ethic have been critical in driving this Arsenal team.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Cedric, White, Magalhaes, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Lacazette.

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Key Stats

  • Arsenal have the fifth-best defensive record in the Premier League, having conceded only 31 times this season. Only Wolves, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, have conceded fewer.
  • Crystal Palace have won just one of their last nine Premier League games against Arsenal, with five of the last seven meetings between the two sides ending level.
  • Arsenal have lost just one of their last 16 away league games against Crystal Palace, though that defeat did come in a Monday night encounter back in April 2017.
  • Crystal Palace have won just one of their last 15 Premier League games on a Monday, winning 2-1 at Brighton in February 2021. The Eagles have drawn all three of their Monday games this season, including the reverse fixture against Arsenal in October.
  • Arsenal lost their last Monday league match 2-1 at Everton. The Gunners haven’t lost consecutive Premier League games on a Monday since 2010, while they last did so in the same season back in the 1995/96 campaign.

Prediction:
Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal

Considering the key absences from the Crystal Palace side, coupled with Arsenal’s tactical philosophy, this game has all the makings of being a low-scoring affair. Arsenal’s fate could rest on the shoulders of their defence, with Arteta eyeing another clean sheet against a Palace side likely to miss both Wilfried Zaha and Michael Olise.

While this fixture has historically produced draws, the Gunners remain the favourites to seal all three points thanks to their blistering form and the way they have approached inferior opponents this season.

From Thehardtackle

By Debbie

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