“The two league games before this one were OK, I thought. They’ve given us four points and I’ve got to be satisfied with that. Schlupp’s absence is a major blow because he’s been a very important player for us. Unfortunately we’re going to miss him for a period of time because his thigh injury is serious.”
“We need much more consistent form at home. Today has to be another good day. [Tierney] had some muscle soreness. He wasn’t comfortable, and in this period we cannot take the risk. [Gabriel] is feeling much better, he had a complete week of training. And I think Thomas could have some minutes today so it’s good news that we are getting some players back.”
“I write from plague and civil war-torn California,” announces Mary Waltz. “Trust me, football makes perfect sense in comparison. If Arsenal pulls three points out of this fixture, then the pressure on Arteta should ease. I think if they give him enough time he will prove to be a top rank manager.” He’d need more than time to make Arsenal top-rank.
Arsenal have explained the absence of their best left-back thus: “Kieran Tierney is rested for tonight’s game as a precaution, due to muscle tightness.” It’s as if they don’t care how many fantasy league team managers they torment.
Arsenal: Leno; Bellerin, David Luiz, Holding, Maitland Niles; Ceballos, Xhaka; Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Subs: Runarsson, Soares, Chambers, Gabriel, Willock, Partey, Pépé, Nketiah, Willian
Palace: Guaita; Ward, Tomkins, Kouyaté, Mitchell; Townsend, McArthur, Milivojevic, Eze; Benteke, Zaha
Subs: Butland, Van Aanholt, Dann, Ayew, Clyne, McCarthy, Cahill, Batshuayi, Riedewald
Referee: A Marriner
Hello and welcome. These are disorienting times and it’s hard to make sense of anything. So please be gentle if I suggest Arsenal look like they might be getting things together. Emile Smith Rowe is starting to look like the player Mesut Ozil is paid to be, Bukayo Saka is a 19-year-old of outlandish elegance and composure, Kieran Tierney is an extraordinary leftback and leader (but isn’t playing today), Rob Holding earned the new contract he got this week, Thomas Partey is on the way back and Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang seem to be regaining form. Mikel Arteta’s men have won three league games in a row and if they whip Crystal Palace today, they could move into the top-half of the table. And yet, who amongst us would be surprised if they messed up again?
As for Palace, they go into the match only a point below Arsenal but are perhaps an even bigger enigma, being as capable of devastating bursts as they are of very boring dross. They have won only one of their last seven matches. You have to fancy they’ll be up for this one, though, with the prospect of climbing above their north London chums likely to bring out the best of them. Maybe. In short, anything could happen at the Emirates today. You’d best follow the action right here. Roll up! Roll up! Read all about it.