Will Arsenal add to Crystal Palace's woes and open an eight-point gap?

FOOTBALL Will Arsenal add to Crystal Palace's woes and open an eight-point gap?

Kiplagat Sang • 10:30 - 19.03.2023

The Gunners host the Eagles for a London derby and a chance to stretch the gap at the top.

Leaders Arsenal have a chance to move eight points clear of closest pursuers Manchester City if they beat Crystal Palace in Sunday’s Premier League action at the Emirates.

The Gunners are fresh from a disappointing exit from the Europa League – as they were eliminated by Sporting Lisbon on post-match penalties – and their focus now is on the league’s race.

There could have been a reunion between Arsenal and their former captain, Patrick Vieira, but he was sacked by Palace following a poor run of results.

The North London side registered a fifth Premier League win on the bounce when they comfortably saw off Fulham last weekend, and this is expected to be a morale-boosting result ahead of the London derby.

But as they hope to extend the lead to eight points against Manchester City, who are engaged in the FA Cup quarter-final, the Gunners’ supporters should remember that Palace have not been beaten at the Emirates on any of their past four visits, as they have drawn in three games and won one.

Team News

During their match against Sporting Lisbon, fresh injury concerns hit Arsenal camp, with Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba suffering knee and back injuries, respectively. The duo joined Eddie Nketiah and Mohamed Elneny in the treatment rooms.

Gabriel Jesus – who made his first appearance since he got injured at the World Cup and played for 45 minutes on his first start – is available for Mikel Arteta.

However, the Brazilian could be benched given the fine form his close rival, Leandro Trossard, is in. With his three first-half assists against Fulham, Trossard made history, and Arteta is expected to hand him another start over Jesus.

Paddy McCarthy – the former Palace captain and manager of the U21 side – is expected to draft his starting line-up against the Gunners without  Albert Sambi Lokonga, Sam Johnstone, and Vicente Guaita.

Lokonga is not eligible to play against his parent club, and Johnstone is sidelined by a calf problem while Guaita is out with a hamstring injury.

What are the stats saying?

Crystal Palace have only won two of their 22 league away fixtures against Arsenal: a 2-1 victory at Highbury in October 1994 and a 3-2 win at Emirates Stadium in April 2019.

Arsenal are looking to become the first team to win more than eight top-flight London derbies in a season. In nine derbies in 2022-23, the Gunners have only dropped points in a 1-1 home draw against Brentford in February.

Crystal Palace's current 11-match Premier League winless run is their longest since going 14 games in a row without a victory between December 2015 and April 2016.

It's four league matches without a goal for Palace, who haven't scored in the first half in any of their 11 top-flight fixtures in 2023, while Wilfried Zaha has failed to score in any of his last 10 Premier League appearances.

Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace.
Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace.

Predicted line-ups:

Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Trossard, and Martinelli.

Crystal Palace: Whitworth, Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell, Hughes, Doucoure, Schlupp, Olise, Edouard, and Zaha.