IT’S Monday night football and Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) previews the game at Selhurst Park between Crystal Palace and Arsenal.
Crystal Palace v Arsenal | Monday 20:00 | Sky Sport 1
On a downer after the Grand National and Masters have ended? This should perk you up. Monday night’s match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal looks a good ‘un with both sides staring into the barrel of a gun.
The South London side, despite four wins out of five, sit just three points above the relegation zone and need another big push to save their Premier League status.
For Arsenal, the prospect of missing out on Champions League football next season is a live one. They sit seven points off fourth place and need to win their two games in hand over Man City to stay in contention.
Palace defensive resurgence
Crystal Palace’s resurgence has come from their defence. The loan purchase of Mamadou Sakho from Liverpool has been an inspired move and the highly regarded centre back has brought steel and organisation to the side.
The first five weeks of this calendar year were a bleak time for the club. Against Premier League sides, Palace conceded 15 goals in seven matches. Incredibly four of those conceded goals came against Sunderland, emphasising how poor they were.
Since then though it’s improved vastly. Four wins in a row came with three clean sheets and it was only last week’s loss to Southampton that snapped this good run of form.
Injuries piling up
There are two major issues for Palace with regard to maintaining this excellent defensive from. Firstly their injuries are piling up. Scott Dann, Partick Van Aanholt and James Tomkins are all out on Monday night, harming their defence.
And secondly Arsenal are on an excellent scoring run at the moment – 30th November last year was the last time the Gunners failed to notch. That’s a run of 23 games in a row.
You have to go back further when just taking into account league games as their 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough at the Emirates in October was their last PL blank.
Defence-wise the Gunners have hardly sparkled this season though and they’ve conceded in six of their last eight Premier League games.
Despite an improved defence being a key part of the Palace revival, goals look inevitable here. Sam Allardyce will have the Eagles wired for this but with key absences and not the finest home record they could struggle.
Crystal Palace v Arsenal – Over 2.5 Goals & Both Teams To Score (20/23 Coral)