Arsenal-Crystal Palace Preview
Following their first Premier League victory under new boss Mikel Arteta, Arsenal look to keep the good times coming within the new year.
The Gunners aim to win back-to-back top-flight matches for the first time since August whilst trying to end host Crystal Palace's three-game league unbeaten run on Saturday.
It took longer than most Arsenal supporters had hoped, but the club finally experienced victory under Arteta, 2-0 over Manchester United on New Year's Day at the Emirates. First-half goals from Nicolas Pepe and Sokratis were all the Gunners (6-9-6) needed to end an 0-2-2 league rut and win for just the second time in 13 top-flight matches (2-6-5).
For good measure, Arsenal followed that triumph with a 1-0 home victory over Leeds United in the FA Cup this week.
"(The energy within the team) is slightly better than how it was, or much better I would say (when he took over)," Arteta said of the current state of an Arsenal club that sits 10th in the table. "Obviously the fact that we are winning games helps. And, as well, what I am seeing at the training ground since the day I moved is much more like I want to see."
Though Arsenal supporters would like to think major improvement would come overnight, that's not the case. The Gunners are nine points behind rival and fourth-place Chelsea for a coveted top-four spot in the Premier League table.
However, at the moment the focus for Arsenal is winning consecutive league games for the time since opening this campaign with wins at Newcastle United and Burnley. Another positive for Arsenal is their 1-3-0 road stretch within the league.
They played Palace (7-7-7) to a 2-2 draw at home on Oct. 27. Sokratis also scored in that game, and David Luiz put the Gunners up 2-0 after nine minutes. However, Luka Milivojevic scored on a 32nd-minute penalty and Jordan Ayew (five league goals) delivered the equaliser on 52 minutes for the visitors.
The Eagles sit one place and one point ahead of Arsenal and are amidst a 3-4-1 stretch within the league. However, they've managed just a 2-1 victory over West Ham United on Boxing Day over the last six.
Crystal Palace have not conceded more than a goal in each of their last eight league matches. But, they've scored more than one only once in the last seven. Their last two top-flight games ended in 1-1 draws at Southampton and Norwich City.
Perhaps the biggest concern surrounding the Palace club at the moment, though, is the fitness status of star Wilfried Zaha. The midfielder has five goals over all competitions but remains the most complete player on the Eagles roster.
Zaha was less than 100 percent against Norwich City on New Year's Day and wasn't featured in last weekend's 1-0 loss to Derby County in the FA Cup.
"I do (hope he'll be back against Arsenal)," manager Roy Hodgson told Crystal Palace's official website. "The fact is he was pressed into service against Norwich."
Zaha has just one goal in 10 Premier League matches against Arsenal.
Updated January 9, 2020