After a home defeat The Eagles travel to The Emirates to take on The Gunners of Arsenal.
As disappointing as the loss last week was, most Palace fans would begrudgingly admit that it was the result that they expected. The Eagles did not play poorly in front of their home fans but were simply overmatched against the skill displayed by Manchester City. Palace still sit in a strong table position of sixth, but risk falling back to the middle of the table with another defeat this weekend. The tough run continues for the Eagles who including last week play all five teams above them in the table in a successive run of games.
Arsenal haven’t had a great start to the season, but it has still been a good one that seems them in the midst of the top four race. In fact the Gunners only loss on the season was to current league leader Liverpool, until a shock defeat at Sheffield United last weekend. Unai Emery will be determined to push above their current standing in fifth in the hunt for a return to the Champions League, a feat they have not accomplished in the last three seasons.
The match against Manchester City saw a few surprises in the line-up as both Martin Kelly and Vicente Guaita both missing due to late injury flareups. This saw the first start of the year for both Wayne Hennessey and James Tomkins in their place. Both could be included again this week due to the unclear status of the injured players and Roy Hodgson’s praise of the debutants. Andros Townsend could also return to the starting line-up as he came on not long into the second half last week for Jeffery Schlupp, and it would not be a surprise to see their positions swap this week with Schlupp falling to the bench.
Much like last week’s opponents, the greatest strength of this Arsenal team comes in the attacking areas. Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the best in the Premier League with his terrifying combination of pace and skill the stuff of nightmares for opposing centre-backs. Divisive yet talented creator Mesut özil along with the recently returned to fitness Alexandre Lacazette and big summer signing Nicolas Pépécreate an attack that can trouble any defence in the world. Arsenal have also found stability in the heart of their defence, where they often lacked it last season, with the pairing of David Luiz and Sokratis being the anchor of a defense that is solid but prone to mistakes.
The eyes of fans and of pundits will be focused, more so than usual, on Palace star Wilfried Zaha. All supporters of the Red and Blue are familiar with the transfer saga that engulfed Zaha this summer with Arsenal being mentioned not only as his dream destination but the most likely one as well. Ultimately Arsenal ended up spending big money on his international teammate Pépé, leaving Zaha at Palace for another season. The best thing Zaha can do is focus on his game and attack a defence, that despite having quality players, is certainly capable of making mistakes when attacked with the pace, power, and talent of Zaha. The battle in the midfield will also be interesting as both teams boast a duo of talented defensive midfielders as Luka Milivojević and Cheikhou Kouyaté will do battle with Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira.
This will likely be another tough match against a team that quite simply has more talent than The Eagles. This does not mean that Palace cannot find success. If they embrace Hodgson’s defensive unity and use their attacking talent in the counter attack a result is certainty possible. The key to this match will be not letting Arsenal go ahead early as going even one goal down in the first half could spell the end of hopes for any points from this London Derby.