Emirates Stadium is the venue as title-bidding Arsenal and out-of-sorts Crystal Palace lock horns in Sunday’s all-London Premier League showdown.
Mikel Arteta’s men will have little time to recover from Thursday’s heartbreaking Europa League elimination at the hands of Sporting Lisbon and prove their title credentials against one of the league’s worst-performing sides.
Patrick Vieira will not be at the helm of Palace this weekend after a 1-0 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday proved the end of the road for the former Gunner at Selhurst Park.
Following a woeful 11-game winless streak in the Premier League (D5, L6), the Eagles hierarchy decided enough is enough as they fired the Frenchman through the exit door on Friday.
Arsenal seemed in a prime position to advance into the Europa League quarter-finals following a 2-2 first-leg draw at Sporting, even more so after Granit Xhaka put them in front on Thursday.
However, Pedro Goncalves’ potential Puskas Award nominee midway through the second half helped Ruben Amorim’s side take the tie to penalties and eventually see the Gunners off.
Back to the Premier League, where they’ve won five consecutive matches, including a thumping 3-0 triumph at cross-town rivals Fulham last weekend, Arteta’s men start this round five points clear at the top.
With second-placed Manchester City sitting out this matchday due to their FA Cup quarter-final tie against Burnley, Arsenal could extend the gap by completing their first top-flight double over Palace since 2017/18.
Despite steamrolling to a 2-0 win at Selhurst Park in the reverse fixture, the Gunners cannot rest on their laurels, considering they’ve gone winless in their last four league matches against Palace at home (D3, L1).
On the upside, Arteta’s side have been victorious in eight of their nine London derbies in the Premier League this season (D1) and could make history on Sunday.
Beating Palace would see Arsenal become the first side in English Football League history to rack up nine victories in nine all-London match-ups in a single season.
Although they’ll have to cope with the vacancy in the dugout, the visitors will be out to put the brakes on their well-documented freefall in 2023.
As the only Premier League team yet to win a league game in the new calendar year, it’s somewhat strange Palace waited this long to give Vieira his marching orders.
While they commence this round in mid-table, it’s only a false impression of Palace’s current position in domestic affairs, as they hold a fragile three-point lead on 18th-placed Bournemouth.
Not only have they lost three successive top-flight outings without scoring in the run-up to this cross-town trip, but they failed to attempt a shot on target in two of those three defeats.
Palace’s scoring woes are no breaking news, yet their lack of firepower has hit a new low this season, as witnessed by their paltry average of 0.77 goals per Premier League match.
With only Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers netting fewer league goals than the Eagles in 2022/23, it’s hard to present any convincing case for Palace defying their underwhelming record in the London derbies.
Except for a 2-1 win at West Ham United in November, they have failed to pick up three points in their remaining seven top-flight encounters against fellow London rivals this term (D2, L5).
Premier League Form
Arsenal’s abovementioned Europa League exit produced more unwanted side effects, as William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu picked up injuries that will sideline them for this fixture.
While Arteta finally welcomed Gabriel Jesus back from a lengthy spell in the treatment room last weekend, the Gunners’ frontline has been crippled by Eddie Nketiah’s injury.
It means Leandro Trossard, who wasted a golden opportunity to give Arsenal an extra-time lead against Sporting, could be in for another league start, even though Jesus is back to full fitness.
Thomas Partey, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard will likely regain their spots in the starting line-up after beginning Thursday’s game on the bench.
Jorginho could be dropped to the bench, while Mohamed Elneny won’t be in contention after suffering a knock.
As for Palace, first-choice goalkeeper Vicente Guaita is still out with a thigh problem, while his deputy Sam Johnstone has yet to recover from a calf injury.
It means the up-and-coming shot-stopper Joe Whitworth could retain his place between the sticks after delivering an impressive showing at Brighton in midweek.
The Eagles are still sweating over Will Hughes and James McArthur, with both players facing a race against time to make the cut.
All eyes will be on talismanic Wilfried Zaha, as they’ve not lost any of the five Premier League matches featuring the Ivorian winger on the scoresheet this season (W3, D2).
Arsenal potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Aaron Ramsdale; Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes, Rob Holding, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey; Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli; Leandro Trossard.
Crystal Palace potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Joe Whitworth; Nathaniel Clyne, Marc Guehi, Joachim Andersen, Tyrick Mitchell; Cheick Doucoure, Jeffrey Schlupp; Michael Olise, Eberechi Eze, Wilfried Zaha; Jean-Philippe Mateta.
How to Watch?
Arsenal vs Palace, alongside all other fixtures in England’s top flight, is available to watch online via live Premier League streams.
We Say: Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace
After going winless in back-to-back home league matches in mid-February (D1, L1), Arsenal have won their last two top-flight outings at the Emirates by an aggregate score of 7-2.
Arteta’s men netted only once against Sporting, but they had numerous clear-cut chances to double their scoring tally, with Trossard and Gabriel wasting presentable opportunities to fire them through to the semis.
It’s hard to expect the Premier League pacesetters to squander as many chances on Sunday, and it’s equally reasonable back them to create a host of openings against Palace’s shaky rearguard.
While defensive resilience has been Palace’s trademark under recent managers, they’ve failed to keep a clean sheet on five Premier League travels in 2023 (D1, L4).
What’s even more concerning for the visitors is that they’ve drawn a blank three times during that five-match sequence, suggesting the Gunners’ backline could have a field day this weekend.
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