The Gunners are set to continue their 2023-24 league campaign as they visit Selhurst Park in South London to face Crystal Palace on Monday night with hopes to build on a positive start after the victory over Nottingham Forest last week.
A London derby which has recently been dominated by the North London club as they suffered just 1 loss out of their 8 league clashes with the Eagles, both teams opened their Premier League campaigns last week with single goal-margin victories. Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah found the net to ensure that Mikel Arteta’s side cruises to victory despite conceding a goal in the 82nd minute while Odsonne Edouard’s strike helped Palace to damper Sheffield United’s return to the top-flight.
Palace would certainly hope to dent Arsenal’s title charge despite departing ways with their former star-forward Wilfried Zaha who had the most clinical record against their London adversaries.
When & Where:
Date: 22nd August 2023.
Time: 12:30 AM (IST).
Venue: Selhurst Park.
Referee: David Coote.
Assistants: Marc Perry, Wade Smith.
Fourth Officials: Thomas Bramall.
VAR: Jarred Gillett.
Assistant VAR: Neil Davies.
The Gunners suffered a huge injury blow as new-signing Jurrien Timber landed awkwardly in the 50th minute after a tackle on Brennan Johnson against Forrest. A statement by the club later on confirmed that the Dutch defender sustained an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and will undergo surgery which will keep him on the sidelines for an extended period of time.
Official: Jurrien Timber has torn his ACL as consultant specialists confirm after further check with Arsenal 🚨🔴⚪️
“We can confirm that Jurrien Timber has sustained an injury to anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Jurrien will undergo surgery in the coming days”. pic.twitter.com/XyHnOVPipd
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 16, 2023
Furthermore, Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Mohamed Elneny are all expected to not feature as they continue to recover from their previous injuries. Mikel Arteta addressed Zinchenko’s situation in a press conference yesterday by saying: “Alex is doing very well, he’s been training with us and hopefully we’re going to have him available very, very soon.”
Apart from the injuries, on an optimistic note David Raya is available for selection following his move to the Emirates from Brentford and we can expect the Spanish keeper to give Arsenal’s no. 1 Aaron Ramsdale a run for his money.
For Roy Hodgson’s side, Will Hughes and Nathan Ferguson are missing for Palace. Tyrick Mitchell is available following his recovery from the quad injury he picked up in pre-season while Jefferson Lerma and summer signing Matheus Franca could make their home debuts.
Following the end to the transfer saga of Michael Olise who was courted by Palace’s West London neighbours Chelsea, the winger signed a new contract for the Eagles indicating his decision to stay put and rebuffed reports of Mauricio Pochettino’s side activating his release clause to lure him to Stamford Bridge. Despite committing his future at Selhurst Park, the 21-year-old is not expected to feature against Arsenal as he recovers from a hamstring injury he picked up in late June.
BREAKING! Michael Olise has signed a new four-year deal at Crystal Palace, chairman Steve Parish has announced ✍️🦅pic.twitter.com/6y00uP4Or9
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 17, 2023
Mikel Arteta adapted a slightly unconventional 3-1-6 formation against Forest last week as Timber was placed alongside Ben White and William Saliba at the back. Thomas Partey initially started at right-back but geared in the right midfield space with Declan Rice on his left. This gameplan meant Gabriel Magalhaes was surprisingly left on the bench after being a core part of Arteta’s defence since his arrival.
With Timber on the sidelines, we can expect a return to 4 at the back again with the introduction of Gabriel back in the starting XI along with Saliba in the center, White at right-back and Kiwior at left-back. However, if Arteta recalls Gabriel, we can expect a Havertz and Nketiah dilemma to take place as one of them would be dropped to the bench to make way for an additional defender. Following his brilliant strike last week which saw the Gunners score their first 2023-24 league goal, it would be harsh to drop the 24-year-old striker.
We can expect Rice to retain his spot alongside skipper Martin Odegaard in the mid-field with and Partey making way for a Kiwior. Havertz played full 90 minutes against The Tricky Trees and finished his home debut with no shots, no successful dribbles and a mere two key passes as he adapted the number 8 role although his performance was top-notch off the ball and that builds confidence.
Coming to the Eagles, despite Odsonne Edouard converting Jordan Ayew’s brilliant cross 4 minutes after half-time, we could see how desparately their attack needs a ruthless finisher to do justice to the ample creativity they showed. Palace had a whopping 24 shots compared to Sheffield’s 8 (8-1 on target respectively) along with maintaining two-thirds possession and a total 443 passes compared to Sheffield’s 162.
Ayew and Jeffrey Schlupp displayed a lot of positives with Lerma and Doucoure building a great partnership in midfield. Roy Hodgson stressed more on the attack after replacing Patrick Vieira last season and following Zaha’s exit, acquired Brazilian forward Matheus Franca who was injured for the season opener, along with star-winger Olise. However, the current form of Edouard, Ayew and Eberechi Eze suggests the trio will take up greater responsibility in the build-up.
The Englishman was a defensive powerhouse against Forest last week and Manchester City in the Community Shield. Rice was exceptionally composed on the ball in the opening game with a massive 102 touches, 92% pass accuracy and brilliantly linking up as a bridge between the back 3 and the forwards. He won 5 ground duels, made 4 crucial tackles and showed an astonishing game-reading ability which ensured Forest couldn’t launch an effective counter-attack.
Apart from being everywhere on the pitch and slaying his defensive duties, he nearly clinched a goal for his new side as Matt Turner was forced to stretch to save Rice’s long-range effort. Arteta reflected on the midfielder’s performance by saying: “He’s very natural. As you’ve seen today, I don’t know if it was after two minutes or 10, the way he’s moving, the way he’s coaching, the way he has integrated into that dressing room, I think he’s enjoying the position as well.”
Even though he’s arguably Arsenal’s greatest threat going forward, the Brazilian was ruthless in winning possession back for his side. With an unparalleled work-rate and intensity, it’s difficult to think of anyone that matches Martinelli’s influence on the game. Apart from the absolutely dreamy assist for Nketiah’s opener, what sets the winger apart from the remaining 21 men on the field is his strong record in the fixture as the 22-year-old has found the net 3 times in his previous 5 league games against Palace.
Although majority of Arsenal’s attacking play came from the right against Forest due to the absence of Gabriel in the left-center back role and Timber having to remain put as a center-back rather than pressing ahead from the left, if Arteta opts for a 4 at the back with Tomiyasu or Kiwior probably being the first-choice left-back and Rice operating in the left midfield, we can expect Martinelli to relish further in his role.
The midfielder was instrumental against the win over Sheffield and is poised to be Palace’s key attacking threat since Zaha’s departure. The 25-year-old created seven chances for his side last week with no Palace player creating more chances in a single league game since 2016. More impressively, he joined the company of Frank Lampard, Nani and David Silva to become just the fourth player on record to have eight or more shots and create seven or more chances in a Premier League match.
Eberechi Eze created seven chances against Sheffield United, the most in a Premier League game for Crystal Palace since Jason Puncheon against Sunderland in 2016 (8). 🌠#SHUCRY pic.twitter.com/2X1EvERgly
— Squawka (@Squawka) August 12, 2023
With excellent vision and awareness, he registered the highest crosses and passes in the final third for his side against Sheffield. As new signing Jefferson Lerma and Cheick Doucoure, the club’s last year’s player of the season combine to control the midfield and block counter attacks, Eze has been pushing forward even more to dictate his side’s attacking play.
Crystal Palace: Johnstone, Ward, Guehi, Andersen, Mitchell, Doucoure, Lerma, Ayew, Eze, Schlupp and Edouard.
Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior, Rice, Havertz, Odegaard, Saka, Nketiah and Martinelli.