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.

Rob Holding commits future to Arsenal

The centre-back has become a regular under Mikel Arteta this season, playing 18 times in all competitions – the same total he managed throughout the whole of the 2019-20 campaign.

Holding was a key part of the Gunners’ run to the FA Cup final and starred to help them clinch silverware with a 2-1 win over Chelsea on August 1.

“Since I started as manager, I have been hugely impressed with Rob’s contribution to the club and the dressing room, on and off the pitch,” Arteta told the official club website.

“We all know Rob’s quality, which he has shown in his displays during the intense moments of those two FA Cup final victories.

“We are all very happy that Rob has signed a new contract, he is very popular with all the players and staff and we’re looking forward to watching him continue to grow with us in the coming years.”

Since the defender moved to the Emirates from Bolton in the summer of 2016, he has made 96 appearances for the club.

Holding also impressed in the 2017 FA Cup final triumph, again over Chelsea, and has been backed to get even better in the coming years.

Technical director Edu added: “We are very happy to have signed Rob on a new contract extension. He is 25 years old so is still coming into the peak of his career and we are delighted that he’ll be with us during these important years.

“Rob has shown great quality and maturity on and off the pitch in recent months and is developing well. We are looking forward to Rob continuing his progression in the years to come.”

Holding is expected to feature against Crystal Palace on Thursday and while Arsenal are set to be without Gabriel Martinelli for that game, the news on the forward is a lot more positive than expected.

Arteta feared the worst when the 19-year-old suffered an ankle injury in the warm-up before Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Newcastle.

Martinelli was said to be in tears in the medical room, but an update from the club revealed he could return to training as soon as this week.

A statement read: “Gabi has progressed very well and we’re hoping that he will return to full training with the squad in the next few days.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hints at new deal for Holding

The centre-back’s current terms do not expire until the summer of 2023, but the Gunners will reward his impressive form with an improved contract.

Holding could have left the Emirates in the summer with Newcastle among a number of teams chasing his signature, but the move was blocked by his manager and the 25-year-old has gone on to make 18 appearances this term – the same amount he managed last season.

Asked if the current first-choice would extend his stay at Arsenal, Arteta said: “It’s something we will announce as quick as we can and it looks that way.”

Crystal Palace visit on Thursday in the Premier League and Holding is set to line up at the heart of defence while several players could return for the hosts.

Gabriel has missed the last four games after he tested positive for coronavirus, but has recovered and is back in training alongside Thomas Partey, who has not played in a month due to a thigh injury.

Arteta added: “He (Gabriel) tested positive, he had very mild symptoms so he’s missed a few weeks of training because he had to be isolated.

“He’s better now, we expect him to be training with us the next couple of days and we’ll make an assessment whether we can have him or not on Thursday.

“Thomas has been full training for the last four or five days. He’s completely asymptomatic (of his thigh injury). He was a little bit rushed to try to play him against Newcastle, but I think he will be ready for Thursday.”

The Spaniard is still waiting for young forward Gabriel Martinelli to have a scan following an ankle injury sustained in the warm-up ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup win over Newcastle.

After he missed a large chunk of football in 2020 with a knee injury, Arteta is hopeful the result will be positive.

He admitted: “We don’t know how bad it is, he is getting a scan this morning. We didn’t look after the game because he was in a lot of pain.

“Yesterday he tested a little bit better so let’s hope we have a scan today and it is not as serious and we can have Gabi back really soon, but we will know more tomorrow.”

Arteta was unable to provide an update on Mesut Ozil’s future, although the German is due to take part in a Twitter question and answer session later on Monday where he will talk about “the past, present and future”.

“My understanding is nothing has changed from the last press conference, that Edu and the club are having some conversations about the near future and the long-term future and when we know something, we’ll announce it,” the 38-year-old confirmed.

“He has done it in the past, it is something he tried to do to engage with his fans and keep everyone informed. I am not surprised.”

The Arsenal manager also revealed there are no plans for the club to allow Eddie Nketiah to leave this month, but the Gunners are very much in the market for a goalkeeper, the PA news agency reports.

It could be either a loan or short-term deal and if completed could result in Alex Runarsson exiting on loan or reverting to third choice.

Arsenal power past West Brom with 4-0 win at The Hawthorns

The Gunners look set to move up into the top ten in the coming week as a late brace from Alexandre Lacazette put the gloss on a dominant performance in the West Midlands.

Arteta’s team were on the front foot right from the start in this one with Sam Johnstone called into early action to deny Hector Bellerin and Bukayo Saka.

And with all the traffic heading in one direction it was only a matter of time before Arsenal edged ahead as Kieran Tierney netted a superb opener.

The Scotsman raided forward from full back, turned Darnell Furlong one way and then the other and curl home a beauty past Johnstone.

And with The Baggies unable to offer resistance, Saka tucked home a brilliant second.
Lacazette’s delayed pass released Emile Smith-Rowe and his cutback was buried by Saka.

Arsenal kept on coming and coming before the break with more Johnstone keeping the score down as he denied Lacazette and Rob Holding.

And the Arsenal avalanche showed no signs of slowly after the break before Lacazette finally made it three.

Saka was right at the heart of it once again Semi Ajayi deflected his cross onto the post before Lacazette pounced to tuck home.

Arsenal smelt blood in the final stages as Lacazette volleyed home Tierney’ cross for Goal No.4 as Sam Allardyce’s miserable start continues with The Baggies.

Full Time at The Hawthorns it’s West Brom 0 Arsenal 4

Everton deepen Arsenal’s Premier League woes with 2-1 Goodison Park win

The Gunners are facing the very real prospect of Christmas on the brink of the relegation zone as Yerry Mina header pushes the Blues up to second.

On a night of few chances at either end of Goodison Park, it was the hosts that hit their stride early on, as Michael Keane slammed a spectacular effort wide.

And with all the traffic heading in one direction in the opening half hour, it was Everton that edged in front on 28 minutes.

Former Gunner Alex Iwobi’s whipped cross caused problems in the Arsenal box and the unfortunate Rob Holding diverted home past Bernd Leno.

The visitors struggled to bounce back from that, but Arteta’s side were given a massive helping hand just after.

Everton failed to clear their lines at a corner and Tom Davies caught Ainsley Maitland-Niles in area, with Nicolas Pepe confidently tucking home from the spot.

But that proved to be merely a temporary reprieve for Arteta on his return to Goodison as Mina powered
Everton ahead again before the break.

Arsenal did look to up the tempo and haul themselves into again after the restart as David Luiz skidded against the post and Joe Willock flashed on wide.

Bukayo Saka did carve out a chance in added time but Toffees keeper Jordan Pickford was equal to it as Arsenal boss Arteta faces a tense few weeks ahead.

Full Time at Goodison Park it’s Everton 2 Arsenal 1

The Gunners are facing the very real prospect of Christmas on the brink of the relegation zone as Yerry Mina header pushes the Blues up to second.
On a night of few chances at either end of Goodison Park, it was the hosts that hit their stride early on, as Michael Keane slammed a spectacular effort wide.
And with all the traffic heading in one direction in the opening half hour, it was Everton that edged in front on 28 minutes.
Former Gunner Alex Iwobi’s whipped cross caused problems in the Arsenal box and the unfortunate Rob Holding diverted home past Bernd Leno.
The visitors struggled to bounce back from that, but Arteta’s side were given a massive helping hand just after.
Everton failed to clear their lines at a corner and Tom Davies caught Ainsley Maitland-Niles in area, with Nicolas Pepe confidently tucking home from the spot.
But that proved to be merely a temporary reprieve for Arteta on his return to Goodison as Mina powered Everton ahead again before the break.
Arsenal did look to up the tempo and haul themselves into again after the restart as David Luiz skidded against the post and Joe Willock flashed on wide.
Bukayo Saka did carve out a chance in added time but Toffees keeper Jordan Pickford was equal to it as Arsenal boss Arteta faces a tense few weeks ahead.
Full Time at Goodison Park it’s Everton 2 Arsenal 1

Arsenal suffer damaging 1-0 defeat at home to Burnley

This result will only ramp up the growing pressure on Arteta in the weeks ahead as the Spaniard has picked up just one league win in two months.

The Gunners struggled to get into any sort of rhythm in the first half as Rob Holding nodded over and Alexandre Lacazette brilliantly tested Nick Pope.

Arteta looked to have rattled a few cages during the break at the Emirates as Pope was called into quick action to deny Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

But just as the hosts looked to be edging themselves towards breakthrough, Granit Xhaka’s brain fart derailed their efforts.

The Swiss international tangled with Ashley Westwood before losing his head and grabbing the Clarets man by the throat as Graham Scott flashed a red card.

Arsenal looked to cling on from there as Burnley smelt blood in the closing stages.

But it wasn’t to be as Arteta’s miserable was completed as Aubameyang flicked home from a corner………….but unfortunately for the Gunners skipper it was at the wrong end.

Full Time at the Emirates Stadium it’s Arsenal 0 Burnley 1

Premier League Preview: Arsenal v Aston Villa

Mikel Arteta’s side returned to winning ways at Old Trafford last weekend but Dean Smith’s Villa are unbeaten on the road this season.

Arteta has already confirmed no fresh injuries to deal with, but he is certain to rotate following the Europa League win over Molde.

Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding are expected to return to the defence, with Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang also rested against the Norwegians.

Villa only have one new injury to deal with ahead of the trip to the capital with striker Bertrand Traore set for a month on the sidelines.

Trezeguet is set to replace him in the starting line up with Smith only making limited changes from last weekend’s defeat to Southampton.

It’s set to be a late one on Sunday night with a 7.15pm kick off at the Emirates Stadium.

Premier League Preview: Liverpool v Arsenal

The Reds have looked impressive as Jurgen Klopp’s side gear up for their title defence, with wins over Leeds and Chelsea in the opening two weeks.

Klopp’s main fitness concern is over skipper Jordan Henderson after he went off injured against Chelsea.
If he misses out, Thiago Alcantara will make his Anfield debut, with Fabinho set to fill in for Joe Gomez at centre back.

For Arsenal, Mikel Arteta will be pleased with back to back wins to start the season, but a trip to Liverpool will present a real test for his side.

With Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi and Kieran Tierney all still sidelined, Arteta will stick with Gabriel, Rob Holding and Saed Kolasinac in defence.

However, the Spaniard could be open to switching up his attack options, with the on-form Eddie Nketiah banging on the doo for a starting spot.

And it will be a late one for Klopp and Arteta on Monday night, with an 8pm kick at Anfield.

West Ham considering Rob Holding loan move

Although David Moyes has not completely given up hope of landing Burnley’s James Tarkowski – and could well return with one final bid next week – the club are exploring other options, and have identified Arsenal’s Rob Holding as a possible addition.

The Gunners defender could find opportunities limited at the Emirates Stadium this season, and could be tempted by a move to West Ham with the fellow Londoners prepared to offer £5million to take the player on a loan deal for the season.

Another problem area for West Ham is left back, and the club are being linked in the Italian media with a move for Inter Milan’s Dalbert Henrique.

Newcastle United are also thought to be interested in the Brazillian who doesn’t appear to be part of Antonio Conte’s plans for the new season.

Dalbert spent last season on loan at fellow Serie A team Fiorentina where he managed 34 appearances and an impressive 9 goals, and is rumoured to be available for around £18m.

Elsewhere, West Ham’s opponents in the next round of the Carabao Cup have been confirmed.

A Sebastien Haller brace was enough to see off Charlton on Tuesday and book a place in the third round where they will face Hull City, who overturned Premier League side Leeds United on Wednesday night.

The game will be played on Tuesday 22nd September and will be Jarrod Bowen’s first chance to play against his old club since his move to London in January.