Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Crystal Palace

Emirates Stadium, London
Sunday, February 2
11:00 a.m. EST, 16:00 GMT
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Jonathan Moss
    • Assistants: Peter Kirkup and Marc Perry
    • 4th Official: Roger East
  • Reverse Fixture: Crystal Palace 0 - 2 Arsenal
  • This Match, Last Time: Arsenal 5 - 1 Crystal Palace (February 14, 2005)
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 21 Arsenal wins, 3 Crystal Palace wins, 10 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-W-W-W-W-D
  • Crystal Palace's League Form: W-L-D-L-W-W
  • Weather: Partly Cloudy, 7 C / 45 F
Something about transfers.
Arsenal put up a bit of a clunker on Tuesday and drew 2-2 at mid-table Southampton and then the Internet freaked the hell out. It was as if picking up one point instead of three at St. Mary's means the club is now ineligible to win the Premier League title (which, if true, means I also have some bad news for Manchester City fans...)

The moral of the story is, while it would be nice to pick up maximum points from most games, Arsenal are still going to have to put up results in the bigger games: City at the Emirates, Chelsea at the Bridge, etc. If they don't win those, it doesn't really even matter what happened Tuesday at St. Mary's.

Turning our attention to the next points available, Arsenal have Crystal Palace at the Emirates this weekend; if Arsenal don't pick up three points in this one, I will join in the Internet in freaking the hell out. In addition, since today is Transfer Deadline Mania 2014 Part I, the whole story line of this match could be entirely different in a few hours. So, that's fun...

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Wilshere (ankle,) Ramsey (thigh,) Walcott (knee,) Sanogo (back,) Diaby (knee)
Doubts: Rosicky (nose)
Suspended: Flamini (first of three, violent conduct)

I heard a rumor that Flamini might be suspended for
637 games. Is that true?
It's not the number of injuries and absences Arsenal have right now that's the problem; it's the position that all of those players play. Arsenal are lacking in central midfield options now that Mathieu Flamini has earned a suspension and Aaron Ramsey has had a setback with his thigh injury (which, according to some sources is a calf injury, but all this time I've had it as his thigh and Arsene Wenger specifically said Tuesday night that the setback was with "the same muscle.")

Arsene Wenger did clear up some Internet confusion yesterday, confirming that Flamini's ban is three matches and not four; he does not get the additional match ban because his previous suspension was for yellow card accumulation, not a red card. It is still not ideal that Flamini will miss league games against Liverpool and United, but he will be available for the fifth round FA Cup tie.

More rumors have circled that Aaron Ramsey's setback will have hit out for four to six weeks, but Wenger has only called it "some." The timing is poor, as Jack Wilshere is out until next week with an ankle problem picked up against Coventry and Tomas Rosicky remains a doubt with a broken nose. Aside from this, these are Arsenal's only new problems; it's just a shame they all play approximately the same position.

Also, what the hell does Lukas Podolski have to do to get a start?!

Predicted XI: Not Podolski, Not Podolski, Not Podolski, Not Podolski, Not Podolski, Not Podolski, Not Podolski, Possibly Podolski, Not Podolski, Not Podolski, Not Podolski.

Crystal Palace Squad News

His hair always reminded me of a Pokemon...
Out: Dikgacoi (calf,) Murray (knee,) Thomas (groin)
Doubts: Parr (neck/concussion,) Gabbidon (knock)

So, for the first time this season, Arsenal get to face Tony Pulis. Pulis has Palace playing a 4-4-2. Pulis has a question mark at left back, as to whether Jonathan Parr will be fit to start; he left last weekend's FA Cup tie after a collision with Wigan's Callum McManaman. Danny Gabbidon could be missing from the center of defense as well, leaving this midweek's match with a knock. Kagisho Dikgacoi is out with a calf problem as well.

In terms of Palace's attack, ex-Arsenal man Marouane Chamakh will start up top along with Cameron Jerome; Jason Puncheon and Yannick Bolasie are the wingers. 

Current Form

"Your analysis of Descartes is entirely wrong!"
While Arsenal might have had their winning streak across all competitions snapped at seven matches on Tuesday night, they are still unbeaten in their last nine; that remains their second longest unbeaten streak of the season, eclipsed only by the 12 match run in September and October that ended against Borussia Dortmund. It bears noting that Arsenal have not lost a home game since October, winning eight and drawing two since going out of the League Cup to Chelsea 2-0 at the Emirates.

Crystal Palace are coming off a midweek 1-0 win over Hull City, meaning the Eagles took the full six points from their fellow promoted club this season and nine of nine so far against the other two promoted clubs (as they beat Cardiff, too.) Palace have won two straight Premier League matches, having also beaten Stoke 1-0 on January 18; it's the second time this year Palace have won consecutive league matches, but sandwiched in between was a cup exit to Championship side Wigan Athletic.

Palace have won away from home only three times this season, across all competitions; they've drawn none and lost 11 away from Selhurst Park. They won 1-0 at Hull on November 23, 1-0 at Aston Villa on Boxing Day, and 2-0 at West Brom in the third round of the FA Cup on January 4. All that aside, thanks to the logjam at the bottom of the table, Palace are in 14th place, four points clear of relegation.

Match Facts

Arteta's red card made the reverse fixture a bit trickier
than it should have been.
In the reverse fixture, Arsenal won a difficult match 2-0. After it was 0-0 at the halftime break, Arsenal won a penalty early in the second half, which Mikel Arteta converted. Arteta, however, was later sent off for a controversial last man foul on Marouane Chamakh; at the time, I agreed with the call, as that type of foul always produces a straight red, but since the letter of the law is "denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity" and the foul took place approximately 10 million miles from the goal, you could certainly make an argument against it. It didn't matter in the end, despite making the closing minutes a little too nervy; Arteta's one-match ban was for a League Cup tie he likely would not have played in anyway and Olivier Giroud scored late to seal the three points.

Crystal Palace have beaten Arsenal only three times in 34 all-time meetings, but two of their three wins came at Highbury, one in 1970 in the League Cup and the other in 1994. In their last meeting in North London, in 2004/05, Arsenal won 5-1 on Valentine's Day, with two goals from Thierry Henry and others from Dennis Bergkamp, Jose Antonio Reyes, and Patrick Vieira.

The Referee

"This is for your hair!"
The referee is West Yorkshire-based Jonathan Moss. This is the second time Arsenal will have Moss this season and the second time in the month of January as well; Moss was in the middle for the Gunners' late 2-0 win over Cardiff City on New Year's Day. Arsenal all-time have five wins from five matches with Moss in the middle, including three road victories last year, at Wigan, Swansea, and QPR, and a win at Aston Villa the season before last.

Crystal Palace have had Moss only once this season, but it was not without controversy; Moss was in the middle for Palace's 2-0 loss at Old Trafford on September 14, in which Moss sent off Kagisho Dikgacoi after just 44 minutes, conceding a penalty from which United opened the scoring. Dikgacoi was involved with two incidents with Ashley Young in the match. In the first, Young was booked for diving; in the second, Dikgacoi was shown his marching orders. Incidentally, because it was the second time Young tumbled theatrically in the match, Moss had to send someone off for the foul, either Dikgacoi for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity, or Young for a second simulation yellow card; ultimately, it was the visitor.

Around the League

  • Saturday (early): Newcastle United v. Sunderland; St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
    • Reverse Fixture: Sunderland 2 - 1 Newcastle United
  • Saturday (early): West Ham United v. Swansea City; Boleyn Ground, London
    • Reverse Fixture: Swansea City 0 - 0 West Ham United
  • Saturday: Cardiff City v. Norwich City; Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
    • Reverse Fixture: Norwich City 0 - 0 Cardiff City
  • Saturday: Everton v. Aston Villa; Goodison Park, Liverpool
    • Reverse Fixture: Aston Villa 0 - 2 Everton
  • Saturday: Fulham v. Southampton; Craven Cottage, London
    • Reverse Fixture: Southampton 2 - 0 Fulham
  • Saturday: Hull City v. Tottenham Hotspur; KC Stadium, Kingston upon Hull
    • Reverse Fixture: Tottenham Hotspur 1 - 0 Hull City
  • Saturday: Stoke City v. Manchester United; Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
    • Reverse Fixture: Manchester United 3 - 2 Stoke City
  • Sunday (early): West Bromwich Albion v. Liverpool; The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
    • Reverse Fixture: Liverpool 4 - 1 West Bromwich Albion
  • Monday (night): Manchester City v. Chelsea; Etihad Stadium, Manchester
    • Reverse Fixture: Chelsea 2 - 1 Manchester City