After a much-needed rest from our Friday night thriller with Liverpool, Arsenal complete the ‘Boxing Day’ set of fixtures away at Crystal Palace tonight.
In our first visit back to South London since that embarrassing 3-0 defeat against Palace last season, revenge should be what the squad is hoping for.
However, looking at our away record of just two wins on the road this season matching up against Crystal Palace’s eight game unbeaten streak and the fact they’ve beaten the champions this season, revenge may not be easy to come by.
Reacting to Palace’s upturn in form, Arsene Wenger said:
“They were a bit unlucky at the start with many injuries and if you look at their team they have quality players, and with Roy Hodgson’s experience of the Premier League, it doesn’t surprise me.”
Coming into this game off the back of the memories of last season’s game might not be the best thing though, as Wenger reminded people that:
“We’ve also had very positive results at Crystal Palace over the years.”
In fact, in our four visits to Selhurst Park since the Eagles’ promotion in 2013 we’ve won three of those four games.
Unfortunately though, we will be without someone who started and scored in all three of those away wins in Olivier Giroud.
The Frenchman seems to be able to find his mojo well in South London, scoring one of his most memorable Arsenal goals against Palace (a scissor kick from the edge of the box in the 15-16 season) as well as his even more memorable scorpion kick at The Emirates in January.
With Lacazette our only other goal scoring threat, who may not get the space he wants depending on how Palace play, it would be nice to bring on a striker with eight goals this season who is used to scoring at Selhurst.
Also missing out on tonight’s game is Nacho Monreal, coming off at half time against Liverpool, Wenger revealed that the Spaniard will be out for about ten days.
Hopefully that’ll mean that an actual centre back will be paired with Laurent Koscielny this time around.
That centre back would probably be Shkodran Mustafi, but this could also be a great time to give Calum Chambers or Rob Holding some valuable Premier League minutes.
The two young centre backs are still a couple of years off reaching Wenger’s said ready-age (24) for a centre back so maybe a bit of patience is needed but with so many games bunched together in the coming weeks, surely they’ll be given a shot.
But no matter who plays tonight, they have to find a way to deal with the threat that Wilf Zaha and Andros Townsend pose.
The two have been very dangerous in recent weeks and coming back from his suspension, Christian Benteke will be fresh for the game so the defensive unit have to be ready to battle for what will be a much-needed three points.