Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal take on an injury-ravaged Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park this Saturday, hoping to make amends for the calamitous draw in the reverse fixture under Unai Emery in October. Unfortunately for the Gunners, the remnants of their performances under their former Spanish manager provide a mountainous challenge for their current one, with this fixture only providing an opportunity to leapfrog their London neighbours into a measly ninth place. However, the structure and commitment levels of this Arsenal team have improved drastically under Arteta, and the results are beginning to show it.
The Gunners only managed to win one game across all competitions in November and December, but have already won two in the first six days of January. They were clinical and resilient against Manchester United and Leeds, particularly with their response to the first-half onslaught from their Championship opponents on Monday. According to Alexandre Lacazette’s post-match interview, his manager “shouted a lot” at half-time, and it’s clear that Arteta won’t accept a lack of effort. With that in mind, this new and improved Arsenal side should easily capitalise on Palace’s injury woes, and I fully expect them to get the three points.
With Zaha a doubt and penalty-taker Milivojevic suspended, the Eagles’ only major goal threat comes in the shape of Jordan Ayew, who could struggle against a rejuvenated pairing of Luiz and Sokratis. For this reason, I’m backing Arsenal to Win to Nil @ 23/10.
In the Gunners’ match programme on Monday night, club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang expressed his total commitment to the club, stating that he is “desperate to bring it back to the top”. Arsenal fans have heard similar words before from previous captain Robin Van Persie, and it remains to be seen whether Aubameyang will follow in his footsteps or sign a new contract. Either way, he will be desperate for a goal after his recent performance against Manchester United, where his commendable defensive effort was in stark contrast to a below par attacking performance. He’s still scored six in his last 10 games and has scored the first goal in two of his three starts under Arteta. A motivated Auba is a scary one, and I’m backing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang First Goalscorer @ 11/4.
As mentioned, Crystal Palace could be without as many as 12 first-team players this Saturday due to injuries and suspensions. The situation at fullback is a disaster, with van Aanholt and Ward both out, alongside Schlupp who usually slots in at left-back when needed. Third choice Jairo Riedewald is a major doubt too, leaving either Martin Kelly to switch from right-hand side to left, or U23 player Josh Williams to make his debut. With Aubameyang and Pepe dribbling at a makeshift backline, and Ozil gliding through the space that the absent Milivojevic normally bosses, I see Palace committing a lot of fouls here. That’s why I’m backing Crystal Palace Over 20 Booking Points @ 13/5.
You can back all three selections in a #WhatOddsPaddy special treble @ 20/1.
- Arsenal to Win to Nil @ 12/5
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Score First @ 11/4
- Crystal Palace Over 20 Card Index Points @ 13/5