Arsenal were brought down to earth on Tuesday night with a home defeat against Borussia Dortmund, whilst Crystal Palace and Ian Holloway parted company on Wednesday.
The Gunners will be hoping to consolidate their advantage at the top of the league with tricy fixtures ahead and with Chelsea and Manchester City playing one another on Sunday.
Palace may well be reinvigorated following Holloway’s departure with the Bristolian citing his loss of the dressing room as a key factor in his departure.
Arsene Wenger sang the praises of outgoing manager Ian Holloway, ‘ think it is very harsh on Ian Holloway because he has done exceptionally well with Crystal Palace to get them up to the Premier League.
‘It is very difficult to do that. I think it is very early to separate with Ian Holloway because I think he has exceptional talent to manage a football team.
‘He is a football man. He has something that belongs to him that is special. You feel there is something in there that can take people on board with him.
‘When you want to win with a passion, defeat can drain you down and that can happen to anybody. When you are a bit older you can maybe deal with it a little bit better but what is killing in our job is to lose a succession of games.’
Palace caretaker manager Keith Millen is looking for a reaction from his players this weekend, ‘ I want a reaction, the club wants a reaction and the fans want a reaction. Ian`s very truthful. The players are hurting, the whole club us hurting. I need to get the players lively. We spoke after the game on Monday. We were disappointed with their reaction to what was a good first half. He spoke well.
Arsenal is a challenge. I just want the lads to enjoy the occasion.
‘They`re not doing it for me. I am not looking for the job. I love the club. I supported them as a boy. I was brought up in Crystal Palace. It hurts, one win in eight isn`t good enough. I`ll make sure I do the best job to my ability. The players have to go out there and play the top of the league.
‘Arsenal had a tough game midweek. We have to make sure Selhurst is a tough place to come for Arsenal. Players need to show spirit. We have done some work on the training field and some video work. It will be down to me to pick the team tomorrow. Players are fit and well.’
Crystal Palace Team News:
Danny Gabbidon could be restored to the starting line up for Palace, as he was only fit enough for a place on the subs bench for the Monday night defeat to Fulham.
Jonny Williams, Glen Murray and Jack Hunt are all out, as is Paddy McCarthy.
Crystal Palace (from): Speroni, Ward, Mariappa, Parr, Campana, Bolasie, Dikgacoi, Phillips, O’Keefe, Puncheon, Thomas, Jedinak (c), Gayle, Gabbidon, Moxey, Grandin, Alexander, Kebe, Chamakh, Jerome, Bannan.
Player to watch: Marouane Chamakh
One shot on goal in his 8 games with Palace so far (with which he scored). But you know, you just know that there’s a storyline here.
Arsenal Team News:
Arsenal welcome back Mathieu Flamini from concussion, whilst Jack Wilshere will undergo a late fitness check on an ankle knock sustained against Dortmund.
Lukas Podolski (hamstring), Theo Walcott (stomach), Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (knee), Yaya Sanogo (back) and Abou Diaby (knee) are all out.
Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Rosicky, Arteta, Wilshere, Özil, Giroud, Ramsey, Monreal, S.Cazorla, Fabianski, Bendtner, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Gnabry.
Player to watch: Bacary Sagna
Palace like to play with young, nippy and pacy wingers either side of Marouane Chamakh. Sagna was somewhat guilty of failing to chase back for Lewandowski’s winner on Tuesday night.
If that was a sign of fatigue, Palace will be all over it and they’ll look to test Sagna’s legs again tomorrow.
Match Facts & Stats
Crystal Palace have won just five points and scored five goals in their previous eight Barclays Premier League meetings with Arsenal.
Since their opening day defeat to Aston Villa, Arsenal have won 19 of a possible 21 points in the Barclays Premier League (W6 D1).
Crystal Palace have now lost five successive Premier League games. They haven`t lost six in a row in league competition since March 2001.
Two of Arsenal`s three Premier League title winning campaigns (1997/98 and 2001/02) have seen them pick up fewer points from their opening eight games of the season than they have this term (19).
Despite having been relegated in each of their previous four Premier League seasons, Palace have made their worst start to a PL campaign; picking up just three points.
Crystal Palace have made more tackles than any other team in the Premier League this season. Sunderland have made the second most.
The referee will be Chris Foy. You know, the dude that Spurs fans think is an Olympic cyclist.
I’d have preferred for Holloway to still have been in charge to be honest. Palace shipped 62 goals in the Championship last season and he still only added two defenders this summer (one didn’t even make his 25 man squad).
I fancy Palace will be a tad reinvigorated, but Arsenal should still win and I’m going for 2-0. Cazorla and Özil.
Arsenal play at home to Chelsea in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night. Palace play away at West Brom next Saturday.