With all realistic title hopes over, Arsenal will be looking to claim a third win in four Premier League games when they host Crystal Palace, a side against whom they have not lost in any competition since 1994.
It is clear where this season has gone wrong for the Gunners, who totally lost their form at the turn of the year and have only recently set about getting back on track. Recent performances have been good, but the manner in which they failed to hold on to a two-goal lead at West Ham United last weekend shows that weaknesses still remain as Andy Carroll’s aerial dominance proved too much during a crazy 10-minute spell either side of half-time.
Arsene Wenger’s side played some very good football themselves in that match and rediscovered their composure to come away with a point, but even with a game in hand an 11-point gap to leaders Leicester City appears impossible to make up, ensuring that this season will be very much a case of what might have been as a highly talented squad will come away with just the Community Shield to their name. On the bright side coming into this, Alexis Sanchez looks to be back on song.
This is the first of two difficult away matches for Crystal Palace in the next week, ahead of their trip to Wembley to face Watford in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Having all but secured their safety by picking up four points from the last two games, half an eye will be on that showdown as the club attempts to pull off the proudest achievement in its history, but that does not mean they will make it easy for Arsenal as their pace on the break will surely cause problems.
Finding the back of the net is still something of a concern at present for the Eagles as they could not capitalise on a sending off early in the second half for Everton during the game on Wednesday night. They played well and often looked threatening, but that killer instinct was missing all too often despite putting incessent pressure on the opposition goal. For this one, it will be interesting to see here what kind of reception Emmanuel Adebayor receives from the home supporters.
Jack Wilshere played for the Arsenal U-21 side during the week, but is not ready to return to first-team action. Petr Cech could regain his place in goal ahead of David Ospina.
Striker Dwight Gayle is missing for Palace due to a muscle injury, while a shoulder problem renders Wilfried Zaha a doubt. The winger faces a fitness test.
Last Meeting: Despite a lethargic display from start to finish, Arsenal managed to sneak a victory over Crystal Palace on the opening day of last season thanks to a last-gasp winner from Aaron Ramsey. The Wales international was hand to score with a rebound shortly after Jason Puncheon had seen red for the visitors. In the first half, Brede Hangeland headed Palace into a shock lead, a goal that was cancelled out by Laurent Koscielny.