Crystal Palace might make life tough for Arsenal
What Arsenal would like before their daunting run of February fixtures is a nice, comfortable home win over relegation strugglers Crystal Palace on Sunday. Nothing too strenuous, just three points to take them back to the top of the table (even if only temporarily) before they start thinking about much tougher tasks ahead.
The trouble is, cheap wins are an extremely rare luxury in the Premier League these days and though the form book suggests that this might be a stroll for the Gunners (Coral go 2/9), in reality they will probably need to scrap hard to see off an Eagles outfit determined to claw their way to safety.
Arsenal’s next two Premier League fixtures are away at Liverpool and at home to Manchester United before they again go to Anfield for an FA Cup 5th Round tie and then welcome Bayern Munich to the Emirates for a Champions League sizzler.
As things stand at the moment, they are in with a decent shout in two domestic competitions and have an outside squeak in Europe, but it all may look very different by February 19th if these next few result don’t go their way.
But first things first and a Crystal Palace side boosted by five deadline day arrivals, including the loan signing of Blackpool winger Tom Ince, a target for a few other Premier League clubs in the transfer window.
Tony Pulis has taken 16 points out of 33 since he took over from Ian Holloway and although they are still only a point above the relegation zone following unwelcome victories for Cardiff, Sunderland, West Ham and Stoke on Saturday, Palace are definitely in a much healthier position now than when the ex-Potters boss arrived in November.
But it’s games like West Brom at home next weekend that are likely to determine Palace’s fate more than fixtures like Arsenal away and though you would expect them to make a good fist of it, they are unlikely to have enough to seriously trouble a team with the best home record in the division.
Marouane Chamakh would like nothing better than to score against his old club (100/30 with Coral), while Jason Puncheon (5/1) is on a mini hot streak in front of goal, but home striker Olivier Giroud (8/13 and 11/4 first or last) is much more likely to make his presence felt up front and find the net for the hosts.
So though it may be tougher than the odds suggest, Arsenal should come out on top. 2-0 (24/5) has a bit of a ring to it.