After last week’s debacle against West Ham, we really need to bounce back and prove it was just a blip. West Ham lost 2-1 yesterday and had their keeper sent off, which saw Jenkinson banter off Leicester and go in goal. As mentioned previously, West Ham were the better team on the day but they aren’t a better team over the course of a season.
Onto Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace. I suspect we’ll see Hector Bellerin return to the starting lineup, in place of Debuchy. The Frenchman is good but he doesn’t quite have what Bellerin brings to the table. The young Spaniard made the right back position his own when called upon to deputise for the injured Debuchy.
The rest of defence picks itself with Cech – Bellerin – Koscielny – Mertesacker and Monreal being our first choice players. In midfield I think we’ll see Coquelin, Ramsey and Cazorla. This trio didn’t have the best time against West Ham but I feel they are Wenger’s go to midfield as they have previously proven to be reliable.
Our forward line is where it gets interesting. Does the manager drop Oxlade-Chamberlain for Alexis Sanchez already? Does Ozil stick to the left hand side? Will he mix it up and put Alexis Sanchez and Chamberlain/Walcott on either wing? I suspect he’ll be desperate to bounce back strong and opt for Ozil on the left, Alexis on the right and Giroud central. Against a physical team like Crystal Palace you need to play Giroud, rather than Theo Walcott, up front as he’ll be competing in the air a lot. My main worry, which I am sure many among us share, is are we bringing Alexis Sanchez back into the mix too early?
The manager had this to say about the importance of bouncing back after a defeat:
“It is always about how you respond and our game is hugely important. Sometimes, we are maybe too nice. If you want to say our aggression level against West Ham was not big enough, then I would agree with you. I’m confident we will be stronger at Crystal Palace. They’ve tremendously progressed and the consistency of their results has been impressive but we have a good record there and we want to maintain it.”
Pardew will have watched his former team beat us and try to take aspects of their game into this. Wenger will be aware of this and our quality should lead us to a hard-fought victory today. We need to rebuild our momentum as we can’t allow the other big teams to build a lead over us this early in the season.
I will take a guess at 1-0 or 2-1 to the Arsenal.