By 90Min
December 28, 2017

Thursday sees Arsene Wenger's Arsenal make the short trip south to face Roy Hodgson's resurgent Eagles side in a London derby under the Selhurst Park lights, where the Gunners will be looking to improve on a recent run of one win in four, whereas Palace will be hoping to extend their club record unbeaten run in the Premier League to nine games.

A win for Arsenal would put them back amongst the pack chasing for the top four, although their main priority in south London will be to bounce back defensively from a shambolic performance at the back last Friday against Liverpool. 

Palace were fortunate to remain in 16th place without even kicking a ball after a dramatic round of Boxing Day fixtures, meaning a win against their London rivals would put them in a very comfortable position in the scrap for survival. 

Here's everything you need to know about this Thursday's battle between north and south...


Classic Encounter  

Graham Chadwick/GettyImages

Arsenal 1-2 Crystal Palace

Having recorded four draws and three losses in their opening seven games, the odds were very much stacked against Palace taking anything from their trip to Highbury to face Arsenal, with the Gunners boasting the likes of David Seaman and former Eagle Ian Wright amongst their ranks. 

In typical Palace fashion however, the south Londoners performed admirably when heavily considered the underdog, and raced into a 2-0 lead at half time courtesy of John Salako's first half brace. 

Unsurprisingly, Palace old boy Wright notched midway through the second half to take his tally to 100 for the north London side, although his landmark goal was ultimately left in vain as the Eagles held on for a famous 2-1 win despite a nervy finish to truly kick start their season. 


Key Battle

Luka Milivojevic vs Mesut Ozil

Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Arsenal's silky German Maestro frequently pops up in the number 10 role, drifting behind the striker and pulling strings in between the lines of midfield and attack, meaning that Palace's Serbian stalwart Luka Milivojevic will be the unlucky man facing Ozil come Thursday night. 

Ozil's goal against Liverpool displayed his unerring ability to ghost from almost a statuesque start into a one on one position, a trait which can very easily throw off a man marker; the Eagles' number four needs to concentrate from the first whistle to the last. 

If the Serb allows the former Real Madrid man to dictate the play and orchestrate things for the Gunners, Wenger's men have enough firepower up top to make Palace pay. 


Team News

Tony Marshall/GettyImages

Hodgson still finds himself without Mamadou Sakho whilst the Frenchman recovers from a calf injury, and will also be without Damien Delaney and Connor Wickham for the London derby. Joel Ward is also overcoming a calf issue and will require a late fitness test. 

Manchester United loanee Timothy Fosu-Mensah may be available once again after a recent hamstring complaint, whilst Christian Benteke is back again after serving a one game ban. 

For the Gunners, Wenger is without a few key players. Nacho Monreal will be out for around two weeks with an ankle injury, whereas Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud are both out of Thursday's game with hamstring issues. 

Santi Cazorla is also out as he continues his rehabilitation from a long term injury. 

Potential Crystal Palace Lineup: Speroni, Fosu-Mensah, Tomkins, Dann, Schlupp, Milivojevic, Cabaye, Loftus-Cheek, Townsend, Zaha, Benteke


Potential Arsenal Lineup: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Koscielny, Mustafi, Bellerin, Wilshere, Xhaka, Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette


Prediction 

BEN STANSALL/GettyImages

On paper, this fixture has an Arsenal victory written all over it, given the attacking talents at Wenger's disposal as well as Palace's struggles to keep clean sheets at Selhurst Park. 

In reality, the 3-0 riot over Arsenal in south London back in April will be fresh in the minds of many Arsenal fans and perhaps the players; a day where the Gunners' fans were booing their own players and the 'Wenger Out' campaign was spilling over. 

For all their early season woes, Palace aren't eight games unbeaten through luck. The Eagles have some dangerous players, and a flimsy Arsenal backline may be unnerved by the physicality of the Eagles, Benteke in particular.  

Keep your eyes on this one, it could get interesting. 

Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-3 Arsenal 

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