It’s pretty funny, looking back at the Gunners recent games against the Eagles, how the score lines seem to indicate that authority has always been with Wenger’s side in this fixture when, in reality, none has been won without some dogged fight and resolve. A last-minute close range tap-in from Ramsey saved the Gunners’ blushes on the opening day of the season at the Emirates in August when it had, for some minutes before half-time, looked as though we were in for another Aston Villa debacle from the previous year.
That game ended 2 – 1 to Arsenal but last season’s encounter in their home was even a tougher nut to crack and the 2 – 0 final scoreline was deemed even by some Gunners as flattering, a game in which Arteta scored and was sent off, with a backs-to-the-wall graft required for much of the second half till Giroud’s 88th minute header settled it.
It was the match that saw Wojciech Szczesny’s qualities highlighted as a top goalkeeper and after keeping a clean sheet in last week’s FA Cup win over Middlesbrough, the Polish keeper will be asking if he had done enough to return to the place of his heroics as the starting man in goal. David Ospina has done well since taking over the reins but some section of Arsenal fans have refused to be entirely sold on his parries as the best solution.
Perhaps Alan Pardew will set his boys up to capitalize, as they play with so much width with crosses bound to abound in plenty. The former Newcastle boss has taken keenly to his new role in London, guiding the Eagles to 3 wins and just one defeat in their last six League games though he would have been disappointed as to the ease with which he yielded up the chance to advance to the quarter-finals for the FA Cup, losing last week to Liverpool. They had been one of the ‘giant killers’ in the fourth round, knocking out the fancied Southampton at their very backyard, a game in which both Marouane Chamakh and Yaya Sanogo scored.
While Sanogo will be happy to watch from his sofa being both currently sidelined with injury and ineligible to play as per loan regulations, the Moroccan does not have fabulous memories of his time at the Emirates despite a very impressive start in his first season. You get the feeling he may be out to mete out justice to his former employers and in that sense, all of the Arsenal defence, Mertesacker and Koscielny especially, would have to be on high alert.
This could be the game that sees the return of Jack Wilshere after two months out with an ankle injury. Wenger did confirm in his press conference that he was “fine” and that could mean a possible appearance for him on Saturday. He will hope to find a space in Arsenal’s dazzling and congested midfield where Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil have managed to take some of the attention off Alexis Sanchez. Ramsey’s continued absence could give Jack the ease to integrate himself back into the team, and that is while hoping no one named Paddy or McNair will ever turn up on the same pitch with him.
It will be the meet, at the Emirates, with the Principality club next after this engagement with Palace and the Gunners will want to go into that game with the aura and air of winners, rather than bearing the bitterness of dropped points.
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