A shocking exit in the Europa League has done nothing but given a few questions for Arsenal to ponder upon. The Gunners’ mentality is to be tested. Speaking of mentality, a team which has not won since 2023 has risen, are about to face the league leaders. Matchday 28 brings another London derby to be witnessed, this time it is Arsenal hosting Crystal Palace.
UEL saw us Arsenal facing a defeat against Sporting CP in an unlucky manner. The half-line shot by Gonçalves paved the way to extra time and then penalties, where Arsenal surely would have regretted selling Emi Martinez. The lack of squad depth has been clearly seen as a couple of players got injured and the talent coming off the bench simply could not put the magic and win the match for the team. Clearly now, Arsenal must put this thing behind and focus on the one precious thing, i.e. The Premier League. Given that, they are out of every competition now, PL seems to be the only thing in their way. Arteta must be very determined to get his hands on the trophy as it is the solitary target he can go for this season.
On the other hands, The Eagles have sacked their manager, a former gunner, Patrick Vieira. The last match Palace won was when the world was still in the World Cup hangover. So, a poor run of form has led to the sacking of the gaffer. 12th position Palace must revert to the winning ways as their current situation is a bitter swallow for their fans. As Vieira has been fired, we would be seeing Paddy McCarthy take the charge. He is Crystal Palace under-21 head coach and a former captain of the club.
Arsenal’s PL form: W W W W W
Crystal Palace’s PL form: L L L D D
WHEN & WHERE?
Where: Emirates Stadium, London.
When: Sunday, 18th March 2023.
Time: 7:30 PM IST / 2:00 PM GMT
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Assistants: Lee Betts, James Mainwaring
Fourth official: Craig Pawson
VAR: Chris Kavanagh
Assistant VAR: Stuart Burt
The couple of injuries mentioned above which Arsenal faced in the Europa fixture were about Saliba and Tomiyasu. Both were forced off at an early stage of the game. Thus, both will not be featuring in the match. Gabriel Jesus is back in the squad. He had minutes on a Thursday night. He might even be starting the match. Elneny still remains the long-term absentee with Eddie Nketiah not being around for at least a few weeks more.
For Palace, Vicente Guaita and Sam Johnstone will be unavailable as they got injured midweek. Sambi Lokonga will be ineligible to face Arsenal just like Fulham’s Cedric Soares was the previous week. The good news is that James McArthur and Will Hughes both might be available for the matches as they were seen training. Both have missed the last two PL matches.
Arteta sets up in the usual 4-3-3 shape now which then tends to have a box midfield of Ode, Xhaka, Partey and Zinchenko. A back of 3 defenders is then created by White becoming a makeshift right-centered back. Since Jesus is back with the team, the attack will be even sharper. The tuning of Jesus and Martinelli is very crucial. Both can switch their positions from centre to left just like that, making it hard for the opposition to mark them. With Trossard in the arsenal as well, who can play anywhere in the front, it gives an additional advantage.
Since the manager has been sacked, there is not much to say about how Palace will set up under Paddy McCarthy. But under Vieira, they have been seen using a 4-3-3 or at times 4-2-3-1 sort of formation, which is obviously on paper. As the match goes on, they make a central pivot of 2 midfielders mostly with a couple from Doucouré, Sambi or Milivojević. The CAM mostly being Ayew shifts a bit wide on the right and Olise tucks in a little. Although it has been seen that they leave spaces in the mid at times, which may play into the hands of Arsenal. But let us see how Paddy tries to stop Arsenal from gaining three points.
It feels like ages since Saka has been seen on the scoresheet. But his previous goal was against Everton on 2 March which clearly is not ages before. Such is his aura this season that we are used to see him in the spotlight. Well, he sure would like to be in the spotlight once again against Palace this weekend and score to assert his dominance.
Scoring goals has not been easy for the Eagles this season. The drought can be clearly seen since the past 4 matches. Olise has scored 2 goals and given 5 assists in 26 appearances. The right winger/midfielder must step up to end the drought. He has put decent performances this season but more good ones are demanded from him as his potential speaks. It would be interesting to see how he would be used by the new guy Paddy.
Arsenal predicted starting lineup: Ramsdale; White, Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Trossard, Martinelli.
Crystal Palace predicted starting lineup: Whitworth; Clyne, Andersen, Guéhi, Mitchell; Milivojević, Doucouré; Ayew, Olise, Schlupp; Zaha.