After an Andy Carroll hat-trick, Arsenal might have to get used to sides targeting defensive frailties in the air again.
The Gunners had years of watching opposition sides launch the ball into the box and try and outmuscle and outjump an Arsenal team perceived as weak but, largely thanks to the strong partnership between Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, it was a tag the side had managed to shake off.
Gabriel has partnered Koscielny in recent weeks and Arsenal do look more vulnerable and less organised when a ball is flighted in and it’s something Alan Pardew hopes to exploit on Sunday afternoon.
“It is so much more difficult to get pressure on those two centre-halves when they’re playing at home,” said the Crystal Palace manager. “But we are going to try and will put pressure on their centre-halves every opportunity we have.”
Pardew has hinted that he will use former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor and hope his aerial presence can threaten the Gunners when Palace win a free-kick or corner at the Emirates Stadium.
“I think it’s documented that their set-piece record isn’t great defensively and we are the best.”
Pardew used his pres conference on Friday afternoon to talk up Crystal Palace’s ability in dead ball situations and, clearly, it’s something they’ll try to target on Sunday afternoon.