Premier League: Arsenal v Crystal Palace

Since losing 4-1 to Manchester City before Christmas, Arsenal have won four from four in all competitions, and Mikel Arteta seems to have found a system which has started to produce results for the FA Cup holders.

A back four system has resulted in wins over Chelsea, Brighton, West Brom and Newcastle, with Emile Smith Rowe and Kieran Tierney the standout players in Arsenal’s resurgence. Both should start when Crystal Palace make the trip across London, with the Gunners hoping to move into the top half with a victory.

Speaking of the South London side, Roy Hodgson’s side have won only one of their last six games, beating bottom side Sheffield United in their last Premier League game, before exiting the FA Cup at the hands of Wolves last weekend.

Wilfried Zaha was afforded a partial rest in the defeat, playing only the last 20 minutes – a decision that may well have been influenced by this game. The winger will be central to the Eagles’ chances of getting anything against an Arsenal defence that has kept three consecutive clean sheets.

Palace also have injury worries elsewhere in their squad, with Mamadou Sakho, Martin Kelly, Jeffrey Schlupp, Connor Wickham, Wayne Hennessey and Nathan Ferguson all missing through various ailments.

There’s good news in the shape of Gary Cahill though, as the former Chelsea defender should return after a thigh injury, and Scott Dann could also come back into the squad after a similar issue.

As for Arsenal, Gabriel Martinelli is expected to miss out after turning his ankle in the warm-up of the FA Cup win over Newcastle, despite training in the week, but Thomas Partey and Gabriel should both return to the squad after injuries. Rob Holding, who signed a new contract this week, is available to deputise should the Brazilian defender not make the starting XI.

Arsenal take on Crystal Palace on Thursday, January 14th. Kick-off is at 8pm.

Premier League Preview: Crystal Palace v Leicester City

Brendan Rodgers’ side were held to a 2-2 Boxing Day draw with Manchester United at the King Power and three points in this would take them back to second.

Despite such a hectic run of recent matches, Rodgers is expected to stick with the same starting team with Ayoze Perez the only likely change.

As for Palace, Roy Hodgson will be worried by his team’s recent dip in form, with just one win in five heading into this.

The former England coach has no new updates on the injury front with Gary Cahill, Mamadou Sakho and Connor Wickham still out.

But James McCarthy and Andros Townsend could return to the side as Hodgson looks to turn their fortunes around.

And Kick Off in this one is set for 3pm on December 28th at Selhurst Park.

Chelsea cruise to 4-0 Premier League home win over Crystal Palace

The Blues were without a win since the opening day, but second half goals from Jorginho, Kurt Zouma and debutant Ben Chilwell sealed a timely three points.

Neither side created much in a slow opening 45 minutes, with Timo Werner pot shot the only effort on target.

However, if the first half was to be a slow burner, it burst into life straight after the restart.

Mamadou Sakho’s clearing header was a weak one, and Chilwell kept his nerve to fire past Vicente Guaita.

That goal was to prove crucial as it tipped the balance in Chelsea’s favour, with Zouma rising superbly to bullet home Chilwell’s cross just after the hour mark.

With Palace successfully killed off, Jorginho made it 3-0 with 10 minutes left from the penalty spot.

And the visitors, and Sakho’s, miserable day was completed minutes later as he conceded a second penalty and hop skip jump Jorginho tucked home again.


Crystal Palace seal shock 3-1 Premier League win at Manchester United

Palace rode their luck after the break, but a below par United can have few complaints about losing their first game of the new season.

The visitors looked to stay compact and hit United on the counterattack in the early stages, and that paid off perfectly after just seven minutes.

Mamadou Sakho’s pass fed Jeff Schlupp in behind the United defence and his low cross flew across the box with Townsend arriving on cue to tuck home at the far post.

That early setback rocked United, with Paul Pogba’s long range effort their only chance inside the first 45 minutes.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer threw on Mason Greenwood after the break, but the teenager wasted a brilliant chance to equalise on the hour mark.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s cross was perfect for the England international, but his free header flashes wide of the post.

That miss was to prove crucial for United, as Palace were handed an early season present by VAR with twenty minutes to go.

Referee Martin Atkinson chose to go with the technology and award the softest of soft penalties against Victor Lindelof.

United were initially handed a reprieve as David De Gea saved Jordan Ayew penalty, but Atkinson firmly removed himself from Solskjaer’s Christmas card list by ordering a retake.

Zaha pulled rank on Ayew for the second spot kick as the former United man fired past De Gea.

The hosts did look to rally in the closing stages, as debutant Donny van der Beek slotted home, but
Palace’s pace and power on the counter proved the difference once again.

With United pushing high up in the Palace half, a long ball out of defence released Zaha yet again and he held off Lindelof to seal all three points.


Hodgson praises Sakho’s Crystal Palace commitment

The former Liverpool defender only returned to training on Friday, after a hamstring issue kept him sidelined for close to two months, but he featured off the bench in the Carabao Cup second-round tie.

Sakho, who played 27 times for Palace in the 2018-19 campaign, has struggled with injuries during the last 18 months and yet looked assured in the stalemate with the Cherries, which saw the Sky Bet Championship side progress 11-10 on penalties.

With Gary Cahill and James Tomkins still out, the cameo for the 30-year-old was a major boost for the Eagles ahead of this weekend’s Premier League trip to Manchester United.

“He played very little football in the last season,” Hodgson said of Sakho.

“But he was on the pitch for a long time (against Bournemouth) after doing two training sessions, which is quite incredible.

“The medical staff were very reticent to allow him play, they thought it was too soon and it wasn’t a good idea.

“I spoke to him and he thought that, as long as he wasn’t thrown into the deep end, he could play a part in the game and he did, so that’s another bonus for me.”

Due to unavailability, Palace had to start central midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate at centre-back against Southampton and, while he impressed, Hodgson was fearful of suffering more injuries at Bournemouth.

He was able to rest the entire defence which featured at the weekend and also saw summer signings Ebere Eze and Michy Batshuayi gain valuable minutes on the south coast.

The duo were quiet and struggled to create chances in the cup tie, but they got through 90 minutes along with captain Luka Milivojevic, who missed most of pre-season after he had to quarantine following a trip to Serbia.

“The benefit for us was the minutes and the competitive level of the game,” Hodgson added.

“Michy played 90 minutes for Belgium but got thrown in there and hadn’t done a lot of training with Chelsea so he needed it.

“Ebere Eze definitely needed it, Max Meyer needed it and Luka definitely needed it.

“Luka when he came back from Serbia couldn’t train with us and he was injured for the last part of the season, so for him that is the first 90 minutes in a long time.”

The shoot-out defeat for Palace meant they missed out on successive games in Manchester, with Bournemouth due to face Carabao Cup holders Manchester City in the third round next week.

David Brooks was the Cherries’ star performer and is one of several players at the club linked with a transfer in the wake of their relegation.

Goalkeeper Asmir Begovic was the hero for the Championship side after he denied Milivojevic from the spot, but he spent last season away from the Vitality Stadium on loan and could still depart before October 5.

New boss Jason Tindall said: “We have always got good players linked with different clubs and until someone tells me otherwise, they are still a Bournemouth player.

“And I am delighted to have as many of my best players available to me as possible.”