After our 3-0 win over West Ham last time out, there’s another London derby to contest – this time against a resurgent Crystal Palace side who’ve won four of their last five league matches.
It took some time for Sam Allardyce to get to grips with an unpredictable Palace squad but results have been favourable as they look to avoid relegation once more after a poor campaign, enjoying more luck at times than someone with a Dublinbet bonus code with the results they’ve managed lately.
Arsène Wenger answered questions on a range of topics in the pre-match presser including Alexis Sanchez, team news updates and Yohan Cabaye.
Cabaye (calf) is unavailable for selection through injury and is among 10 first-team players that will not feature for Monday’s hosts.
Wenger had this to say about his compatriot, “Yohan is a good player because we were interested in him at some stage when he was at Newcastle, but we do not speculate on any weakness. Crystal Palace are like Arsenal because they have a big squad with many good players. In the Premier League, having one player out or in is not a big problem anymore for these clubs.”
Constant questions have been asked about the futures of Mesut Özil and Alexis, with Wenger suggesting the delay in completing an extension for the Chilean is down to his agent.
“I believe that he basically wants to stay at the club, and it’s down to finding an agreement with his agent,” Wenger said.
Goalkeeping duo Petr Cech (calf) and David Ospina (back) as well as Laurent Koscielny (Achilles) are all still sidelined, whilst Francis Coquelin is back in contention after a reported bereavement which meant he missed out against the Hammers.
With no fresh injury issues to contend with, it’s likely that Wenger will start the same eleven that were comfortable in victory over West Ham. Any more than one or two changes would overcomplicate things, especially in a match that Arsenal are expected to win.
24-year-old shot-stopper Emiliano Martinez was impressive in goal and will start once more. Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny – both of whom were again encouraging – ultimately have points to prove in their attempts to become first-team regulars.
Danny Welbeck is poised to make his fifth consecutive league start in attack, with Alexis and Walcott supporting him on either flank.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1): Martinez; Bellerín, Mustafi, Gabriel, Monreal; Elneny, Xhaka; Walcott, Alexis, Özil; Welbeck.
As previously mentioned, Palace have been grinding out results of late – including a shock 2-1 away win over leaders Chelsea.
Allardyce’s men have grown in confidence under his management and despite a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates on New Year’s Day, they gave a good account of themselves in the first hour or so before succumbing to fatigue.
Sloppiness and mistakes naturally crawled into their overall game but four months on, it’s a different story altogether. Palace will be keen to mirror performances from Bournemouth and West Brom – taking the game to Arsenal, which can force mistakes early on and help them create chances more easily.
During his pre-match presser, Allardyce said: “This will be a hugely tough game and it’s important we don’t lose against Arsenal. They had a very good victory in midweek which showed how they can bounce back because of the quality of players they have.”
That’s important to understand as it suggests he’ll set up his team to tactically frustrate the visitors. With five wins and eight draws in 32 previous meetings against Arsenal for the 62-year-old, it’ll be interesting to see how his team fare on this occasion given their injury problems.
French forward Loic Remy (calf) is a doubt for contention. James Tomkins (calf) and Scott Dann (knee) are both unavailable, as is highly-rated fullback Patrick van Aanholt (ankle).
With that in mind, here’s a possible Palace XI (4-2-3-1): Hennessey; Ward, Kelly, Sakho, Schlupp; Milivojevic, Ledley; Zaha, Townsend, Puncheon; Benteke.