We welcome Tony Pulis’ new pack of orcs to the Emirates today as we bid to bounce back from midweek and, if only for about 24 hours, reclaim first place.
The original plan for this preview was to take a closer look at our new signing Kim Kallstrom, the man whom we loaned from Spartak Moscow on deadline day for the rest of the season. However, as most of you would have heard by now, the Swede has already picked up a back problem and, although un-confirmed, there are already initial suggestions that our new man could be out for around 2-3 months. This, added to the injuries of Ramsey and Wilshere, compiled by the 4 match suspension of Mathieu Flamini, reveals just how thread bare our options are in the centre of the park, something we relied so heavily on earlier in the season. To add to this, these problems come at the beginning of our season-defining run of fixtures that will see us play Liverpool and Bayern twice, United at home and all of Chelsea, Everton and Spurs away, to be concluded with the visit of the blue half of Manchester.
The match today therefore is vital in ensuring that we gather as many points going into these fixtures as we can and make sure that the morale in the squad stays high. Like he did with his Stoke team in recent years, I fully expect the men from South London to come and park the bus, keep ten men behind the ball at all times, and try to hit us on the counter as often as they can. Unlike Stoke, this palace team possess real pace through the likes of Jason Puncheon and Dwight Gayle, which means the wingers, whoever they’ll end up being, will have to be on guard and helps out the full backs.
Here’s how I think we will line up today:
Sagna Koscielny Mertersacker Gibbs
Gnabry Ozil Cazorla
I expect (and hope) that Gibbs comes back into the side today after Monreal’s struggles in midweek, with the rest of the back four pretty much picking itself. I also think that we will see Chamberlain continue his transition into the central midfield role alongside the Arteta, who will come in for the suspended Flamini, with the now usual front three behind Giroud. Gnabry though, despite the fact that he has only just burst into the first team, will have to produce a better performance than he gave against Southampton, else, despite his reluctance, Wenger will have to start to play another German, Lukas Podolski.
Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace
Despite it having the potential to be ‘one of those days’, I do expect us to get a result today, a result that, given the circumstances, we have to get. Next week, the back four are going to have to contain Suarez and Sturridge, this week, Chamakh; This proves how this is they type of game that, if we want to be champions, we have to win.
Chamberlain and Ozil to score,
COME ON YOU GOONERS!!!