Arsenal aim to extend Premier League lead against Crystal Palace
Disappointing Europa League exit
Arsenal head into this weekend’s Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace off the back of a disappointing exit from the Europa League. The Gunners were dumped out of the competition in the round of 16 stage following a penalty shootout defeat against Sporting CP at the Emirates Stadium.
Sole focus on Premier League title race
The result now leaves Arsenal solely focusing on their Premier League title race against Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s side are in action this weekend, but featuring in the FA Cup quarter-finals rather than the Premier League – meaning the Gunners could move eight points clear with a win against Palace.
Crystal Palace in disarray
The Eagles have endured a difficult run of results leading to former Arsenal star Patrick Vieira being sacked from his role as manager at Selhurst Park. The north Londoners will look to bounce back with a strong performance against Palace as they aim to lift their first Premier League title since 2004.
Injury concerns for Arsenal
Mikel Arteta has been hampered by injuries to both William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu following Arsenal’s Europa League exit on Thursday night. The French defender limped off holding his back with a suspected muscle injury, whilst Tomiyasu received treatment on his knee before being replaced by Ben White in the ninth minute against Sporting.
Predictions from former Gunners
Gunners icon Paul Merson believes his former side will pick up a win this weekend with Palace currently in disarray following Vieira’s dismissal.
“I’m going for an Arsenal win all day long – pick a scoreline!” Merson told Sportskeeda.
BBC pundit Chris Sutton has agreed with Merson’s assessment and can see Arsenal extending their lead over City at the top of the table.
Sutton told BBC Sport: “On paper, you might look at this and think a straightforward home win but it rarely works out that way when Arsenal play Palace.
Palace not to be underestimated
“The Eagles have not been beaten at the Emirates on any of their past four visits, drawing three and winning one. Palace are on a long winless run and have not even managed a shot on target for a while but I am not so worried about them going down.
“They still have to play all eight of the teams below them in the table, and they picked up 16 points out of a possible 24 against them earlier in the season. The question here is whether Palace can hold out and they showed against Manchester City last weekend that they are not easy to break down – it took until the 78th minute for City to score with a penalty.
A key player’s performance
“So, it is not going to be easy for the Gunners – they will have to watch out for counter-attacks too – but I am still expecting them to win. Win this, and Arsenal go into April eight points clear with 10 games to go.
“That would be enormous for them as they go into the home straight, and I think at least one of their players will step up again to make sure it happens.”
Former Gunner Paul Merson believes Bukayo Saka has been Arsenal’s standout performer this season.
“As for Arsenal’s standout performer this season, it’s between Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard, for me. The Arsenal captain has led from the front and produced the goods consistently, while Saka has scored some big goals for Mikel Arteta. I like players who show up in big games to score the opening goal or the winner and Saka has done exactly that this season.
“Leandro Trossard is another player I’ve been really impressed by – what an unbelievable signing he’s turning out to be for £28 million! He ticks many boxes and I think he’d get into the Manchester City team tomorrow.”