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Tenacious Eagles will test Arsenal's resurgence in form

crystal palace arsenal match preview

Match Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal - Premier League - 10.04.2017

Arsenal enter this season's run-in in dire straits, clinging desperately to some hope of still finishing in the top four, or, failing that, still qualifying for Champions League play via other means too numerous to enumerate here. There are glimmers of hope though, not just in our confident win over West Ham on Tuesday but also in last weekend's draw with Man City in which we showed greater poise, resilience, and determination than at any other point since mid-January. We've laid claim to fifth position and can start working on reeling in Man City and Liverpool. First, though, it's Crystal Palace.

The Eagles are in cornered-beast territory, mired in the relegation-scrap. They capped an impressive four-match win-streak by winning 1-2 at Stamford Bridge...only to capitulate 3-1 at St. Mary's on Wednesday. One step forward, two steps back. As such, we'd do well to be wary. Should they show up resembling the squad that defeated Chelsea, we'll more than have our hands full. If nothing else, our desire to climb back into the top four will have to meet if not exceed their hunger to stave off relegation.

We can't take too much away from our win over West Ham even if the Hammers are just as much in the mire as Palace are. No one, save Sunderland, is in worse form than they are, and Palace have been in fine form despite their midweek setback.

It's good news then that we do seem to finding our footing again after sleepwalking through the last two months. Whether it was the fight-back we showed against City, twice finding equalisers to earn a point or the fluidity and verve we showed against West Ham (when we might have gone for five or six goals had Mr. Atkinson seen fit to heed a penalty shout or three), we've awoken.

Key players like Özil, Alexis, Walcott and Bellerin have looked especially lively and incisive, and others have stepped up to fill gaps caused by injury. With Ospina and Koscielny likely to miss out, Mustafi, Gabriel, and Martinez have had to rise to the occasion, and they have thus far. Without pushing it too far, the squad as a whole seems to have decided that there's still time to make something of this season. In order to do so, of course, we have to perform the smash 'n' grab at Selhurst Park on Monday. Allardyce is sure to sit back and dare us to score through a thicket of defenders and hope to hoof it long for Benteke.

Ordinarily, that's the kind of approach that would spell our doom: a parked bus paired with long balls leading to set-pieces. However, there's been just enough in our recent efforts to convince this correspondent that we will find our way through, around, or over that bus often enough to reduce it to ruins.

LAST 3 Meetings

  • Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace (01.01.2017)
  • Arsenal 1-1 Crystal Palace (17.04.2016)
  • Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal (16.08.2015)

FACTFILE

  • Arsenal have scored at least one goal in their last 23 outings.
  • Arsenal have lost their last three away matches in the Prem.
  • Arsenal first faced Crystal Palace on 27 January 1934, a 7-0 win in the FA Cup.

INJURIES

Cazorla and Čech are ruled out, and Lucas, Koscielny, and Ospina face late fitness tests but are highly unlikely to be available.

POSSIBLE STARTING XI

Martinez; Monreal, Gabriel, Mustafi, Bellerín; Xhaka, Elneny;  Alexis, Özil, Walcott; Welbeck.

GOONERSPHERE'S PREDICTION

Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal

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