Arsenal could be saying farewell to Alexis Sanchez and welcoming Henrikh Mkhitaryan but it must handle its business against Crystal Palace to keep within reach of the top four.

By 90Min
January 19, 2018

Under performing Arsenal welcome a resurgent Crystal Palace to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday with all to play for in their respective league campaigns.

The Gunners find themselves under huge pressure once more after slumping to defeat at Bournemouth last weekend. Arsene Wenger's side conceded twice in quick succession to hand Eddie Howe's Cherries a shock 2-1 win, with Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp calling the current crop of players "the worst Arsenal side I've ever seen."

Arsene Wenger was without star attractions Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil at the Vitality Stadium, with Sanchez now set to join rivals Manchester United. The much maligned boss confirmed in his press conference that Ozil will not leave the club in January however, with Wenger hoping Henrikh Mkhitaryan'a potential arrival could help solve this latest crisis.

Roy Hodgson's side on the other hand are flying, and after collecting another valuable three points at home to Burnley last weekend, find themselves five points clear of the relegation zone.

Bakary Sako's winner has lifted Palace up to 12th in the Premier League table, with the former England manager's side putting their early season woes firmly behind them.

The Eagles have now lost only once in their last 10 Premier League games, ironically the defeat coming against the Gunners in an entertaining 3-2 loss at Selhurst Park towards the end of December.

The Gunners will be favorites on paper, though recent performances, crowd unrest and concerning transfer activity are sure to be on the mind of Arsene Wenger's players. Confidence is growing by the week at Selhurst Park, and Palace fans will come into this one filled with optimism that they could yet cause an upset.


Classic Encounter

These two sides have only played 42 times since their first meeting back in 1934, with Arsenal dominating the head-to-head record. 

One belting encounter between the pair occurred on Valentines Day in 2005, when Arsene Wenger - for the first time in Arsenal's history - named a 16-man squad comprising of non-British players.

The Eagles had early chances to take the lead, but were punished for their profligacy in front of goal, as Arsenal stormed into a three-goal lead.

First, Dennis Bergkamp slid home from Jose Reyes' left-wing cross before the Spaniard doubled the lead, striking a crisp left-footed effort into the corner past Gabor Kiraly. Soon after, Thierry Henry muscled in on proceedings, rifling home a superb effort into the top corner to mark his 200th Premier League appearance in style.

With the game all but sewn up, Arsenal applied second-half cruise control to inflict more punishment on Iain Dowie's side. After a neat exchange of passes with Henry, captain Patrick Vieira casually round Kiraly to slide home and make it four.

The Eagles reduced the arrears through Andrew Johnson's penalty, but conceded a fifth when Henry spun on the edge of the area to fire home, following good work from Bergkamp.

The Gunners saw out the remainder of the game comfortably, sealing an emphatic 5-1 win to cut the gap to runaway leaders Chelsea to 11 points.


Form

Arsenal's UEFA Champions League aspirations are hanging by a thread after last week's defeat to Bournemouth. They now trail London rivals Chelsea by eight points, with their recent run of bad form coinciding with an upturn in fortunes at neighbors Tottenham.

The Gunners have failed to win in their last five matches in all competitions, suffering a humiliating 4-2 defeat to Nottingham Forest in the process, relinquishing their grip on the FA Cup.

Arsene Wenger's defense held firm against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup recently, but have leaked 10 Premier League goals in their last five league encounters.

Roy Hodgson's side have seemingly overcome the odds already, with many fans and pundits having written the Eagles off after they failed to score in their opening seven league games.

Hodgson has overseen a stunning turnaround since replacing Frank De Boer, taking 25 points from his 19 games in charge. The Eagles form has seen them soar out of the relegation zone, with the enigmatic Wilfried Zaha earning plaudits for his recent performances.


Team News

Alexis Sanchez looks set to complete his move away from the Emirates in the coming days, with Arsenal preparing for life without the mercurial Chilean. Theo Walcott has also completed a move to Everton, having been afforded just 49 minutes of Premier League football this season by Arsene Wenger.

Mesut Ozil is carrying a knock and will be assessed closer to kick off, while Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal and Ainsley Maitland-Niles could return from minor injuries. Olivier Giroud is out with a hamstring problem, while Santi Cazorla remains a long-term casualty.

Despite their recent form, Palace are suffering with a host of injuries to first team players. Jeffery Schlupp limped off in the FA Cup tie at Brighton two weeks ago, and is unlikely to recover in time for this one.

Scott Dann, Mamadou Sakho, Jason Puncheon and Andros Townsend remain sidelined, though Roy Hodgson will hope to start full-back Joel Ward after a calf problem.

Potential Arsenal Lineup: Cech. Koscielny, Mustafi, Chambers, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Wilshere, Ozil, Iwobi, Lacazette

Potential Crystal Palace Lineup: Hennessey, Ward, Fosu-Mensah, Kelly, Tomkins, van Aanholt, McArthur, Milivojevic, Sako, Zaha, Benteke


Prediction

History would suggest that Arsenal will run out comfortable winners, but recent circumstances cast doubt over the certainty of that outcome. 

Palace have given Arsenal a run for their money in recent times, and pushed the Gunners hard just a few weeks ago in a narrow 3-2 defeat. Arsenal had Alexis Sanchez on that day though, and the gloom above the Emirates is mounting as they prepare to sell off another prized asset.

The resurgence under Roy Hodgson has seen Palace playing with a swagger and confidence that suggests they might feel a result is possible. With that said, Arsenal have a habit of standing up in the face of adversity when Arsene Wenger needs his side the most. It could be a case of another narrow home win.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Crystal Palace

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