Arsenal need to keep their faint Premier League title hopes alive when they welcome Crystal Palace to the Emirates Stadium for a London derby this weekend (4pm Sunday, Sky Sports 1).
Arsene Wenger’s men looked set to continue their poor recent run of form against West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day, but a late winner from Olivier Giroud ensured they collected maximum points in front of their own supporters in north London.
It was another patchy performance from the Gunners and an improvement will be needed if they are to overhaul the sizeable nine-point margin that currently separates them from Chelsea at the top of the table. A battle for the Champions League places looks far more likely than a fight for the title for Arsenal. That will leave the club’s supporters frustrated after the 13-time English champions entered this campaign with a real chance of finishing at the summit of the standings for the first time since 2004.
Crystal Palace were held to a 1-1 draw by Watford last time out, with Troy Deeney’s second-half penalty cancelling out Yohan Cabaye’s opener in the first 45 minutes. The Eagles played well in that opening half at Vicarage Road but failed to land a decisive blow, which allowed Walter Mazzarri’s charges to get back into the match after the half-time interval.
Nevertheless, former England boss Sam Allardyce (pictured) will have seen enough in his new team’s display to be reasonably positive about their chances of avoiding relegation to the second tier this term, despite the fact that the south Londoners are still only two points ahead of 18th-placed Sunderland in the final relegation spot. The bookies tend to agree that Palace will be safe, making them circa 11/2 in the relegation odds. On class alone it is hard for this preview to anticipate Palace being able to get a result away from home in this match.
These two teams sit at the top of the Premier League injury list at present, with Wenger set to be without Santi Cazorla, Kieran Gibbs, Shkodran Mustafi, Per Mertesacker, Mathieu Debuchy, Chuba Akpom, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, although the two latter men are hoping to be passed fit in time to feature.
Giroud will probably continue at centre-forward after his match-winning exploits last time out, with Mesut Ozil tucked behind him in his customary No.10 role and Alexis Sanchez providing support from the flank. The midfield partnership of Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin is now established as Wenger’s favourite in the absence of Cazorla, while Gabriel Paulista will once again join Laurent Koscielny in the heart of the backline.
Crystal Palace are missing Loic Remy, James Tomkins, Damien Delaney, Pape Souare, Bakary Sako, Connor Wickham, Jonathan Benteke and Steve Mandanda, with midfield duo Joe Ledley and James McArthur facing a race against time to be available. Martin Kelly could shift to centre-half in the absence of the suspended Delaney, who picked up his fifth booking of the season last time out, with Zeki Fryers then likely to play at left-back and Joel Ward on the right-hand side of the four-man defence. Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend will pose a threat to Arsenal on the counter-attack, while Christian Benteke will be looking to add to the eight goals he has already scored this term.
Our Preview’s Arsenal v Crystal Palace Betting Tips Conclusion
Palace possess the attacking quality to cause problems for Arsenal on Sunday afternoon, but it is still difficult for this preview to envisage anything other than a home victory in this one.
Although the Gunners have stuttered of late, they tend to get the job done at the Emirates, where they have not been defeated since Liverpool’s 4-3 triumph on the opening day of the campaign. An Arsenal win with under 3.5 goals scored in total could therefore be the best betting tips’ option, while Ozil will fancy his chances of finding the net as he links up with Giroud once more.
- Bet on Arsenal to beat Crystal Palace with under 3.5 goals scored in total @ 13/10 with BoyleSports.
- We anticipate that Mesut Ozil can score at any time @ best betting odds of 45/17 (just over 5/2 at 2.65/1) with Unibet.
- It is also worth noting that there is a 28/1 enhanced odds offer by one of the major bookmakers, for new customers only, for Arsenal to win this match (normal odds are 2/7). This, along with the standard ongoing free bets and other enhanced odds deals, can be claimed on our JustBookies’ home page.
Greg Lea is a freelance sports writer. Read the articles that he has written at Just Bookies.