The busy Christmas schedule gets underway with the visit of Arsenal as the Eagles begin a run of three games in six days with two of them moved for live television coverage.
It really felt as though something was missing on Boxing Day. The Palace were not playing, leaving a large void in the day however sad that may sound. The Boxing Day fixtures are a ritual for football fans and it was a peculiar feeling to have that taken away from us.
Whether or not this fixture will be worth waiting for remains to be seen but Palace fans will fondly remember the same fixture last season in which Palace ran out 3-0 winners. Yes, we are still pinching ourselves after having very little luck when up against the Gunners in previous seasons.
The draw in South Wales has seen Palace eight games unbeaten which is an incredible record since the appointment of Roy Hodgson. It will be tough to see the run continue to the end of the year with both Arsenal and Manchester City in town but funnier things have happened.
Palace welcome back Christian Benteke from a one game suspension who was sorely missed at the Liberty Stadium at the weekend and should take his place in the starting line up at the expense of James McArthur.
The visitors have a number of injury concerns but have a wealth of talent to call on from their squad but this is a fixture that boss Arsene Wenger will be looking for all three points from with Arsenal currently sitting in sixth place in the Premier League.
TEAM NEWS (courtesy of Physio Room)
CRYSTAL PALACE – Connor Wickham (knee), Mamadou Sakho (calf) and Damien Delaney (surgery) will all miss out while Joel Ward (groin) will face a late fitness test.
ARSENAL – Nacho Monreal (ankle), Olivier Giroud (hamstring), Aaron Ramsay (hamstring) and Santi Cazorla (plantaris) are not available.
The last time the two sides met was at Selhurst Park in April and it was quite a night under the South London lights. Andros Townsend gave the Eagles an early lead which was the sign of things to come. Yohan Cabaye doubled the hosts lead and Luka Milivojevic scored from the penalty spot just as few minutes later to send the visitors back to North London pointless.
Who Scored man of the match – Andros Townsend (9.8)
Last FIVE meetings between the two sides;
- 10/04/2017 Crystal Palace 3-0 Arsenal
- 01/01/2017 Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace
- 17/04/2016 Arsenal 1-1 Crystal Palace
- 16/08/2015 Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal
- 21/02/2015 Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal
Last FIVE results for Palace;
- 23/12/2017 Swansea City 1-1 Crystal Palace
- 16/12/2017 Leicester City 0-3 Crystal Palace
- 12/12/2017 Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford
- 09/12/2017 Crystal Palace 2-2 Bournemouth
- 02/12/2017 West Bromwich Albion 0-0 Crystal Palace
Last FIVE results for Arsenal;
- 22/12/2017 Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool
- 19/12/2017 Arsenal 1-0 West Ham United
- 16/12/2017 Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle United
- 13/12/2017 West Ham United 0-0 Arsenal
- 10/12/2017 Southampton 1-1 Arsenal
FORM PLAYERS (courtesy of Who Scored)
Top two rated players from each team so far this season;
- Aaron Ramsay 7.33
- Wilfried Zaha 7.29
- Mezut Ozil 7.27
- James Tomkins/ Ruben Loftus-Cheek 7.11
ONE TO WATCH
Former clubs – Lyon
The 26 year old French striker was a one club man before moving to North London in the summer for a club record transfer fee for Arsenal where he signed a five year contract. His career began in the youth set up at Lyon in 1998, before breaking through into the B team in 2008 and making his full first team debut in 2010. Lacazette made over 200 appearances for the club and scored an incredible 100 goals in his time there.
The Arsenal number nine made his international debut for France in 2013 and has 16 caps to date, scoring 3 goals after working his way up through every youth side from under 16 to under 21.
Final league position – 5th
The inconsistencies that Arsenal continue to suffer will be their downfall this season with the fight for the top four places in the Premier League once again looking likely to be a real battle. There is certainly enough class in this squad but at the same time, there seems to be something preventing them from evolving into a team that is capable of challenging for the title. Whether that be Arsene Wenger, certain players not performing of not enough quality in the depths of the squad, it will be tough for the Gunners to make it into the top four come the end of the season unless there is a marked improvement on what has been so far this season.
- TEB prediction – draw
- James Dodd prediction (see below) – away win
- Who Scored prediction – away win
BETTING ODDS (courtesy of Paddy Power)
- Home – 10/3
- Draw – 11/4
- Away – 4/5
- Both teams to score – 4/7