- Palace won 4 of last 5
- Arsenal 7 points of 4th, two games in hand
- Palace just three points above drop zone
- Gunners won 2-0 on Jan. 1 in last meeting
Crystal Palace host Arsenal on Monday at Selhurst Park (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with both teams needing three points for very, very different reasons.
After winning four of their last five games to drag themselves out of the relegation battle, Crystal Palace lost at Southampton last time out and Sam Allardyce‘s side are just three points above the drop zone and face five of the top six in their remaining eight games. Allardyce has never been relegated from the Premier League but he could come closer than ever…
As for Arsenal, amidst all the uncertainty regarding the future of manager Arsene Wenger and star players Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, one constant remains: the Gunners are locked in an intense battle to finish fourth. They’re currently seven points behind fourth-place Manchester City but have two games in hand as Wenger’s men know they cannot afford to slip up in a London derby and the Frenchman wants to keep his proud record of never finishing outside the top four alive.
In team news Palace are without several defenders through injury with Scott Dann, Patrick Van Aanholt and James Tomkins all out and Allardyce could be without 11 players. Arsenal’s third-choice goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez will start with Petr Cech and David Ospina both out injured, while Laurent Koscielny is out but Francis Coquelin returns.
What they’re saying…
Arsene Wenger on the current challenge: “Look, I feel we came out of a very difficult period and what we have shown is that we are united and focused and determined to do things right again. That was questioned for a while and I think we gave the right response. We have to show that focus now until the end of the season. There’s still a lot to fight for. That is what’s at stake basically.”
Sam Allardyce on Wenger’s situation: “It is the expectation and, unfortunately for him, the competition is so much fiercer for Arsenal, for Manchester City, for Liverpool, for Chelsea, for Tottenham now. With those five – stroke Everton who are looking more likely to become another challenger – even Champions League places are becoming very difficult to achieve now. The competition is so fierce and the expenditure you have to spend to stay in that competition at that end of the table – let alone go better and win the league – is a massive demand.”
Palace’s relegation fears will grow as Arsenal’s star show up big time to boost their top four hopes. 3-1 to the Gunners.