Arsenal will be seeking to end 2017 on a high when they make the short trip to Crystal Palace in Premier League on Thursday.
28 December 2017
Kick-off 20:00 local time
Venue: Selhurst Park
Referee: M. Oliver
Assistants: S. Bennett, D. Cook
Fourth official: G. Scott
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Palace 34 3 9 22
Arsenal 34 22 9 3
Crystal Palace 3-0 Arsenal 10/04/2017 (Premier League)
Crystal Palace goalscorers: A. Townsend (17′), Y. Cabaye (63′), L. Milivojevic (68′)
Players to watch
Christian Benteke has scored in just three of his 25 Premier League home appearances for Palace while only finding the back of the net once this season.
Despite this alarming statistic, the Belgian striker will be a key figure against a Gunners team who aren’t fond of physical players with an aerial presence.
Set-pieces and deliveries from the flank will be vital for Roy Hodgson’s side at Selhurst Park.
For Arsenal, during their patchy spell of form, playmaker Mesut Ozil has been a constant threat going forward. Whether the Germany international is playing for the club or putting himself in the shop window is anyone’s guess.
Nonetheless, the World Cup-winning midfielder has shown his world-class technical ability in the final third with three goals and two assists in his last six league outings.
Team form and quotes
The Eagles are on an eight-match unbeaten run with three wins and five draws, but have kept one clean sheet in the 13 home league matches since their 3-0 success over the Gunners at Selhurst Park in April.
Hodgson says his squad need to show courage and use their incredible support of their home fans to their advantage against the unpredictable neighbours to the north.
“We know that’s what we’ve got coming; that’s what we’ve got to try to find a way of trying to deal with and the only advantage we have is the fact that it is at home where our fans do give us enormous support and also they’re sensible fans they realise that we have got a big job on our hands, they will be expecting us to give our all against Arsenal,” he said.
“But they won’t necessarily be expecting that we are going to go out there and take Arsenal apart because they know what wealth and riches they possess compared to us; a much more modest Premier League team.”
Arsenal have lost just won of their last eight matches and their tally of 48 goals conceded is the most in a calendar year in the top flight since 1984 when they let in 57.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger conceded their defensive frailties need to be rectified, but doesn’t want his team to lose their expansive style of play in the process.
“What we want is to stop conceding goals, stop missing chances, but as well I want [my players] all to continue to play with the same spirit, the same determination and the same love of the game,” Wenger said.
In team news
Palace will be without striker Connor Wickham and defender Mamadou Sakho, while right-back Joel Ward is still struggling with a groin problem.
Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal will face a late fitness test after suffering an ankle injury in the 3-3 draw with Liverpool, but striker Olivier Giroud and midfielder Aaron Ramsey remain sidelined with hamstring concerns.