Palace play an Arsenal side that seemed destined for a title tilt, but in a run-in teeming with frustration, they've failed to put pressure on their rivals. Now they play a Palace side that has found its feet after a winless run. Here's Jack Pierce's preview.
West Ham vs Arsenal, last Saturday; Arsenal's season in microcosm.
0-1: 'This looks promising, it could be our day'
0-2: 'We are incredible'
1-2: 'It's just a blip; every side has them'
2-2: 'For crying out loud. What's the matter with us?'
3-2: 'Wenger out!'
3-3: 'We could do this, you know. We could still win this'
Full time: 'When are the Champions League qualifiers? Might look at EasyJet'.
If Arsenal, with their array of talent lose a two goal lead anywhere in the league, it's a problem but at West Ham, admittedly a good West Ham side, when there's still a slither of hope they could win their first title in 12 years, there's no excuse.
The threat posed by Andy Carroll, he of the one time cornrow debacle, was too much for Arsenal to handle and his hat trick changed the game around completely. Gunners' fans have gone on to say that they weren't expecting Carroll to play but surely Wenger, a man so well versed with the Premier League should've cottoned on to the potential of Carroll being played against a side who so clearly don't like playing against players of his ilk.
Per Mertesacker isn't the answer to many questions but when handling Andy Carroll, he's a fair punt. He wasn't brought on, even as a substitute so both Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel would’ve gone to bed on Saturday night fearing Carroll would jump out of the wardrobe.
In a season in which Leicester City and Spurs now look likely to fight it out for the title, you've got ask whether Arsenal will have a better chance to win the Premier League any time soon. Of Leicester's three league defeats this season, two have been at the hands of Arsenal meaning that Leicester have picked up 19 more points in their other 31 matches in comparison to Arsenal in their 30; a stat that should send shivers down the spine of any realistic and sane minded Arsenal fan.
If Arsenal's inability to mount a proper title challenge had affected just this season, it could be forgiven but this is becoming an annual routine. The offer of promise hoodwinks fans, Arsenal and others, into thinking they’re the real deal… and then the cruelty of reality hits.
Mathematically they’re still in with a chance of winning the league but it would take Leicester to fall off a cliff and Arsenal to go on the sort of run they don’t so Islington Council needn’t plan for an open top bus run.
If the 21st century has taught us anything, it’s that people will watch absolutely anything on the internet given the number of views Arsenal Fan TV has each week. I’m as guilty as anyone; it’s great watching if you need a laugh. Claude and Ty, the YouTube channel’s star turns, have become minor celebrities in North London and given Arsenal’s current form and unpredictably, surely it’s only a matter of time before a fist fight or civil partnership between the two.
Arsenal have some wonderful players at their disposal and the form of Mesut Ozil during the first half of the season was sensational. He was on course to smash the record for assists in a Premier League season but according to the people who count those sort of things, he’s only added two to his tally since Christmas. Such inconsistency in form is perhaps representative of Arsenal’s season and if Arsenal are to mount a title push next campaign, they must keep hold of the likes of the German midfielder and Alexis Sanchez and hope they can maintain their form for a whole season, just as Leicester have had to rely upon the consistent form of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.
This summer is likely to see a fair bit of movement in the Arsenal squad with the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs rumoured to be on their way out of The Emirates. Only a few years ago, Arsene Wenger was pleased to tell anyone that would listen about the British spine he was building. Fast forward to now and it’s only really Aaron Ramsey that could be heralded as a firm fixture in the Arsenal first team. Theo Walcott, 10 years an Arsenal player, is no nearer to assuring himself a regular starting spot in the Arsenal squad and surely a move away might be an option for him come the summer.
The likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema continue to be linked with moves to North London but bringing them to the club involves spending money. Need I say more?
But don’t worry, Arsenal fans. Yaya Sanogo is technically still your player and he’s excellent.
Excellent at watching the ball pass him by when it’s played up to him and not scoring goals but nobody’s perfect!
Four points from the last week is probably enough to see Palace safe, although not mathematically, and with Wembley’s trip just a week away, changes may be aplenty on Sunday and at Old Trafford on Wednesday. As a result, Arsenal may run out comfortable winners in front of the cameras while playing their nice, flowing football but it doesn’t really matter, does it?
Arsenal have fluffed their lines again this season!
Do you think Palace can get a result at The Emirates Stadium?