Am I the only person who believes Arsenal may struggle today against a revitalised and difficult to beat Crystal Palace?
Similar to the Tony Pulis effect last year, Alan Pardew is getting some decent performances out of some very mediocre players, lets be fair. Since he returned to the club in January, Pardew has a very decent record. P8 W5 D1 L2. One of those defeats was against Liverpool last week in the FA Cup, and I think even the hardened Palace fan would take that to ensure Premier League survival which is beginning to look more and more likely.
I said a few weeks back at the start of February that we could do with Palace having a few more defeats under them to take the ‘new manager’ tag away from Pardew, especially as he has history with Arsenal and will not need any encouragement to spur him on.
Selhurst Park is full of atmosphere, and I am sure that will be no different today. They will make it hard to play, and a single goal victory for me would be all I’d ask. I really hope I am wrong, but I can see that if we play anything like the way we did against Leicester we could come away with very little today.
What is encouraging for us though, is it seems Aaron Ramsey won’t be our for too long with his injury – and at least his injury is caveated with the return of the industrious Jack Wilshere. He needs a run of games and hopefully he can now stay fit for the run in. He offers a different play style from any of our other midfielders, but does the hard work well and also has great ball retention. I doubt he will start, and if we are chasing the game he may not get on, but if we are a couple up he may come on and sure things up.
Another benefit of Wilshere’s return, is that it pushes Mathieu Flamini further away. I know I always mention Flamini and it’s nothing personal, it’s just I can’t put him up against any other of our rivals defensive midfielders in terms of quality. I think we are very fortunate to have Francis Coquelin in the form he is in.