On April 17th, Crystal Palace travel across London to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal. After a midweek draw to Everton all but confirmed the Eagles safety from relegation, Alan Pardew’s side will go to the Emirates looking to cross that magical 40 point barrier. After a fantastic start to the season that left Palace in the European spots at the turn of the year, they’ve had a truly horrible second half of the season.
Arsenal had the last of their title hopes dashed last weekend in a crazy 3-3 draw away to West Ham. While they may have a game in hand, they’re 13 points behind leaders Leicester City. Now, they’ll just be looking to finish with as many points as possible and as high up the table as possible. At this point, an ideal end to the season for the Gunners would be to overtake Tottenham and finish above their North London neighbors for the 21st season in a row.
Arsenal have been getting players back from injury lately, but they’re still without some of their key players. Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss out, but are due back in full training next week. Both Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky will miss out, but they are close to fitness after playing in the under-21 game in Thursday.
Palace will be missing striker Dwight Gayle as he struggles with a knock, but Alan Pardew said that both Connor Wickham and Emmanuel Adebayor came through the game against Everton without any problems. Wilfreid Zaha’s status is unkown as he continues to struggle with a shoulder injury, and they will be without James McArthur, Marouane Chamakh, Kwesi Appiah, and Brede Hageland.
The last three meetings between these two sides have all finished 2-1 to Arsenal. Palace have not beaten the Gunners since October 1994 when current Palace first team coach John Salako scored a brace to fire Palace to a 2-1 victory at Highbury. Outside of the top six, only Everton have fewer losses away from home than Palace. Arsenal have scored only 1.5 goals per game at home, ninth in the Premier League, but have only conceded 0.66 goals per game at home, second best in the league.
Arsenal: Mesut Ozil
After being named on the PFA Player of the Year shortlist this week, Mesut Ozil is primed to help Arsenal to victory and help propel himself to the record for assists in one Premier League season. The German’s assist count has slowed down in the second half of the season, but he’s still been creating the chances. He still leads the league with 4.2 chances created per 90 minutes. Despite the teams overall dip in form, Ozil has still been doing his best to carry the team with three goals and two assists in his last eight games.
Crystal Palace: Yannick Bolasie
One of the big problems for Crystal Palace in the second half of the season has been the absence of Yannick Bolasie. The winger went out with injury after the Stoke game on December 19th and didn’t return to the starting XI until March first against Sunderland. In his absence, the Eagles claimed only three points from 10 games. Since his return to the starting XI, they have won six points from six games. Bolasie’s pace, strength, and dribbling prowess are very important in Alan Pardew’s very direct counter attacking style, and he was a huge miss for them. Now that Bolasie’s back, Palace stand a much better chance of winning games.
Arsenal really should win this. While Palace have seen a slight uptick in their form, so have Arsenal. If the Gunners don’t want to get dragged into the race for fourth place, these are the games they have to be winning.
Prediction: 2-1 Arsenal.