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Gunner Thoughts Matches

Arsenal-Crystal Palace: Team News, lineups, prediction

Team News, lineups and prediction for Arsenal versus Crystal Palace.

Check out today’s prematch blog as well: Arsenal-Crystal Palace: 5 in 5, revive?

Arsenal are prepping themselves to take on Crystal Palace with an opportunity to win four straight Premier League matches and five straight in all competitions.

Arsenal are winless in their last four league matches versus Palace (3D, 1L) but, historically speaking, Arsenal have dominated the matchup only losing 5 times in their last 47 matches (28W, 14D, 5 L).

To earn themselves three points and put themselves in a better place as they head toward another tough stretch in their schedule would go a long way toward providing confidence in their recently found makeup.

The lineup may get a serious boost in the form of Thomas Partey whose reintroduction is being anxiously awaited by Gooners all over.

Beyond Partey, there are a few question marks about the lineup. Not because of injury issues, but because of reintroductions after absences. Upon Partey’s return, Arteta will have to decide who partners him in the midfield. At the left center back spot, Mari and Gabriel will battle for the role. Gabriel has been great this season while Mari has been nothing short of stout in Gabriel’s absence. Getting the lineup right is a must if Arteta wants to keep this momentum going.

Before we look at how Arteta may lineup, let’s look at team news.

Team News

Gabriel Martinelli
Right ankle. Gabi turned his right ankle during the warm-up against Newcastle United on Saturday and was subsequently taken out of the starting line-up.
Gabi has progressed very well and we’re hoping that he will return to full training with the squad in the next few days.

Gabriel Magalhaes
Gabriel is now back in full training and is available for selection for Thursday’s match.

Thomas Partey
Thomas is now back in full training with the squad after recovering from an injury to the left thigh. Thomas continues to regain full fitness and will be assessed ahead of Thursday’s match.

Lineup

In both the areas of contention, left center back and Partey’s partner, I have stuck with the players in form. Mari has been fantastic and this gives Arteta the opportunity to consider easing Gabriel back into the formation. Likewise, Xhaka has been a game changer with Smith Rowe ahead of him to offer a progressive option. Dani Ceballos may get chances to play in future games, but considering neither Ceballos nor Xhaka may play roles in Arsenal’s future beyond this year, Arteta can select the option that offers him the best chance of winning now, without an eye on the future.

From there, the lineup remains identical to the setup deployed versus West Brom. Leno in net, Tierney at left back, Bellerin at right back. A 4-2-3-1 formation that sees Emile Smith Rowe in the number ten role. Aubameyang, Lacazette, and Saka as the attacking front.

Arsenal could be keying in on some consistent foundations for their lineup to be built upon game in and game out and it’s a nice feeling. Question marks still remain on how Arteta will select those contentious spots, and it is possible that Partey is eased back into action given the length of his absence, but having up to eight spots feel relatively secure at the moment is a good place to be heading into February.

Prediction

I don’t believe this will be an easy matchup, especially given the confidence Crystal Palace will take from their recent history against Arsenal, but I do think we are going to see Arsenal control the game and deny Palace a lot of chances. That doesn’t guarantee the Gunners a result, but hopefully it means Palace have to be extremely clinical if they want any share of the points.

I actually expect Emile Smith Rowe to have a tougher game this time around than the previous 4. Before this, teams won’t have had a lot of footage on him, nor will they have considered him a major threat, instead focusing their attention on others like Aubameyang, Lacazette, or Saka. Now that Smith Rowe has had success in all four of his matches, he should be considered a real threat by teams who will look to mark him out of matches and use his inexperience against him. Others in the side will have to come to Emile’s aid and help work him into games and draw defenders away from him so that he can operate in between the lines against the low block.

In the end, if Arsenal come out of the gates from the first whistle and work their chances as they have these last four matches I think they stand a really great chance. The backline has kept much stronger attacking sides off the board and limited their shots on goal, which will have to continue against a team looking to break.

My prediction: 2-1 Arsenal. Aubameyang to score.

Check out today’s prematch blog as well: Arsenal-Crystal Palace: 5 in 5, revive?

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