Until three games ago, it looked like Arsenal would join a relegation battle – an unheard of outcome for the Premier League giants. Coach Mikel Arteta was under huge pressure – and the names of various replacements were being bandied around.
But then came Boxing Day and a win over Chelsea set Arsenal on a good run – it was a turning point and the Gunners won the following three games, climbing up to 11th place. And they could make it four wins in a row if they manage to beat Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday, January 14 – that would be a feat they haven’t managed since October 2018.
Apart from their recent success in the league, Arsenal also managed to see off Newcastle United in last Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie.
Yet Arsenal haven’t enjoyed good fortune against the Eagles in recent seasons – in fact, they haven’t beaten Crystal Palace in the last four meetings. And that means the pressure is all on Arsenal. The good news is that midfielder Thomas Partey is available again after a month out with a thigh injury.
Crystal Palace are not going through a good patch. Roy Hodgson’s side are one point worse off than their London rivals Arsenal – but they did manage to end a five-game winless run in the Premier League in their last outing, when they beat Sheffield United. Still, they did crash out of the FA Cup last weekend, when they were defeated by Wolverhampton Wanderers. On the positive side, Crystal Palace’s defence is boosted by the return of Gary Cahill, who returns from a hamstring problem.
Victory for Arsenal could see them claw their way further up the table and even dream of finishing in the Champions League places. But a loss in this London derby against Crystal Palace could halt them in their tracks and send them back to square one in Arteta’s rebuild task. On the other hand, a win for Crystal Palace would stoke their European dreams – while a loss could push them down to a relegation battle.
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