Match Preview: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace


By - Friday 31st January, 2014

Crystal Palace take on second-place Arsenal in their first visit to the Emirates Stadium this Super Sunday


Image by Lloyd Morgan, used under Creative Commons (http://goo.gl/S2iNoX).

Dear Steve Bruce,

Thanks for the three points, £100k already spent after a week and not a single goal scored. Fortunately Palace’s Jason Puncheon is somewhat cheaper and has been more prolific of late, firing the Eagles to 14th place in the Premier League on Tuesday night.

Tony Pulis ensured that he now has a 50% win ratio in the Premier League as Crystal Palace boss after victory over Hull City under the lights at Selhurst Park on Tuesday night. Interestingly, Tigers boss Bruce was the last manager to achieve this feat; although not in the Premier League.

Despite their £14m strikeforce, Hull City could not find a way past a resilient Palace side, especially former Tigers defender Damien Delaney who kept Shane Long quiet all match.

Danny Gabbidon limped off with an injury in the second half but should be fit for Palace’s trip to the Emirates on Sunday. Also back in contention is Jonathan Parr who escaped serious injury after being stretchered off at Wigan on Saturday. Paddy McCarthy managed a brief cameo from the subs’ bench late on in the match after 21 months out with various injuries, and may well be included amongst the substitutes on Sunday; especially if Palace fail to bring in a centre-back on transfer deadline day.

As I write, it looks as though a loan move for Tom Ince is almost certain to happen, and the winger would surely head straight into the starting line-up, most probably in place of Yannick Bolasie after Jason Puncheon’s impressive form. Puncheon is expected to make his move to Selhurst Park a permanent one, and will hope to notch another goal against Arsenal on Sunday to celebrate. The winger has steadily improved under the tutelage of Pulis, with his ill advised Twitter rant seemingly placed firmly at the back of his mind. It would be somewhat harsh on Bolasie to be dropped as he is the only winger who can beat his man with ease and his width provides an important outlet for a very narrow Palace squad. Nonetheless, with Puncheon on form and Ince undoubtedly more consistent than the Congolese winger, it looks as though he will miss out and have to fight for his place again despite rumours that he is set to sign a contract extension with the club.

Marouane Chamakh will be looking to impress against his former employers on his return to the Emirates

Arsenal have a number of players missing through injury including Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, while Mathieu Flamini is suspended. Thomas Rosicky does, however, return from his suspension and the Gunners will be buoyed by the playmaker’s return to the side. Arsenal are the only side apart from Palace not to have strengthened in the January transfer window thus far, and it looks as if a move for Julian Draxler is no longer on the cards. The Gunners may have to rely on the talent of youngsters Serge Gnabry and Gedein Zelalem. Nonetheless, they still boast the talent of Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla in their ranks, as well as German striker Lukas Podolski.

Marouane Chamakh will be looking to impress against his former employers on his return to the Emirates, and with new and improved service from the wings he could well trouble the scorers. Cameron Jerome is almost certain to continue in the lone striker role, leaving Dwight Gayle once again to warm the bench.

Arsenal slipped up with a draw against Southampton, but Palace were not exactly convincing in their victory at home to Hull and their defence will need to cut out the lapses of concentration and be at the very top of their game in order to get anything from this match. The Eagles have pushed Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs close with good performances, but it is results that matter most, so a smash and grab would still be most welcome.

Unfortunately, I can only see a home victory with relative ease.

Prediction:
Arsenal 3-1 Crystal Palace.

Arsenal vs Crystal Palace is LIVE on Ford Super Sunday, Sky Sports 1. Programme begins 3.30pm; match kicks off at 4pm.

Matt Woosnam

Matt Woosnam

Matt Woosnam is a Kingston University student in his final year as a Politics & International Relations undergraduate. A campaigner on mental health he is the founder of @Talk_Out, as well as part of the TalkEasyTrust, and seeks to break down stigma by encouraging talking out. Matt is also an avid Crystal Palace fan and the online editor of Five Year Plan Fanzine, as well as a regular contributor to the Croydon Guardian.

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