Arsenal travels to Selhurst Park, Saturday to face Crystal Palace after coming off of a complete performance against Championship side Middlesbrough, in the FA Cup. Arsenal will look to continue their form last weekend and pick up a needed 3 points in a tight race for top 4 places in the league.
Arsenal will be boosted by the return to health of Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, although neither is likely to start due to a lack of match fitness.
It seems that Mathieu Flamini and Hector Bellerin will both miss out due to small nagging injuries. Flamini is dealing with a tight hamstring and Bellerin with an ankle problem. Both will be tested before Saturday’s match, but it’s unlikely either will feature.
This match is not only important for the league, but is also an opportunity to build momentum in the face of their Champions League matchup against Monaco on Wednesday. That is a very winnable matchup for Arsenal and gives them an opportunity to possibly make a run in the Champions League.
Arsene Wenger may have one eye on that matchup, but considering the depth of the Arsenal squad, and the importance of this match, Wenger won’t need to tinker too much at this point.
Here is Arsenal’s probable lineup against Crystal Palace:
Goalkeeper – Ospina
You get the feeling that it won’t be long before Wojciech Szczesny reclaims the number 1 role for Arsenal, but in the mean time David Ospina will be the man between the sticks.
Right Back – Chambers
With Bellerin out injured, Calum Chambers steps in and will look to build on a solid performance against Middlesbrough.
Interestingly, Chambers admitted earlier in the week that he finds right back a more difficult position than fullback because of the offensive and defensive responsibilities at fullback. Possibly an indication of where he thinks his future lies.
Left Back – Monreal
Kieran Gibbs was one of the best performers on the pitch against Middlesbrough and made a case to reclaim his position as first choice left back. At the moment though Nacho Monreal hasn’t had a poor performance yet.
Center Backs – Mertesacker and Koscielny
Gabriel Paulista was good against Middlesbrough but you get the feeling that he is slowly being integrated into the squad, and next season could be when he makes a more regular impact.
Defensive Mid – Coquelin
Got a rest against Middlesbrough, so should be fresh and energized this weekend.
Central Mid – Cazorla
Santi Cazorla excelled in this role last weekend and Mesut Özil put in an extraordinary performance in Cazorla’s favored number 10 role. They both showed they can work together in midfield and its unlikely Wenger will want to tinker with this combination too much.
Attacking Mid – Özil
Read the above paragraph.
Wide left – Alexis
He hasn’t been quite himself the past two weeks and its possible fatigue is starting to catch up to him. Having said that, he has had a weeks rest, so the knock on his knee should be a littler better, and the Chilean has showed extraordinary recovery ability.
Wide Right – Walcott
It seems that Wenger is trying to give Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott equal opportunity in the first team. I think that Walcott is likely to start over the weekend, and Welbeck during the week against Monaco. This allows for a healthy rotation of the squad and it keeps both players happy.
This position should get interesting when Oxlade-Chamberlain is fully fit and three potential stars on most Premier League teams are fighting for the same one position. A healthy rotation should be expected.
Striker – Giroud
Bagged two well-taken goals over the weekend. His passing lately has been a let down but he is scoring. Better performances from him with regards to his overall game should be expected.
Via – Lineup Builder