Can Emery’s first choicers repair the damage from Monday night?

Preview of Crystal Palace’s visit to the Emirates this afternoon

Can Emery’s first choicers repair the damage from Monday night?

Halloween may be four days away, but here’s nightmare memory for you…

The usual five talking points ahead today’s home match against Crystal Palace in the Premier League…

All too painful recent memories
There were a good few dropped points last season that cost Arsenal Champions League football this time around. But in the end, you can pinpoint the Gunners’ final two home matches. A draw against Brighton proved terminal, but before that Roy Hodgson’s Palace turned up at the Emirates and won 3-2. It was the stuff of nightmares, with three goals each highlighting different ways in which, defensively, the Gunners weren’t up to the basics. The consolation goals were scored by Ozil and Aubameyang. Not much chance of a repeat of that particular pair netting today then! The race for third and fourth place at the conclusion of the season felt a bit like a marathon steeplechase (grand national free bets are available for those who fancy a flutter) without one horse showing any sign of getting anywhere near the leaders, and unexpected fallers left, right and centre as the four clubs in contention did their best to blow their chances. It felt remarkable, given the inconsistency of Arsenal’s post January performances, that they were ultimately as close as they were, and the Palace result.

Pepe v Zaha
Arsenal bid for Wilfried Zaha during the summer transfer window, but would not match Palace’s valuation. Zaha was even willing to move abroad just to get away from Selhurst Park, but he remains there. Having said that, he has failed to find the net for his team so far this season, after nine Premier League appearances. The danger is that this is a run that can’t last too much longer. The Gunners, of course, turned their attentions to Zaha’s fellow Ivorian Nicholas Pepe once they failed to secure Zaha. It’s also been a so-so campaign on the goals front so far for the number 19, with only a converted penalty until Thursday night’s substitute appearance against Vitoria. You won’t need reminding what happened then, and there will be a buzz if Arsenal win a free kick within five metres of the Palace box today.

The leapfrog possibility
I am scratching my head as to what to make of the Premier League table at present. Leicester two points behind Manchester City and looking a decent prospect for a top four finish (Kolo Toure is doing some coaching on the defence there apparently). Manchester United two points off the relegation zone. As for Arsenal, a win today will not imoprove their fifth place position, but at least would keep them within touching distance of Chelsea in fourth. However, Palace are only a point behind Unai Emery’s team, so an away win would see the Gunners drop to sixth. Mind you, we should at least not need to worry about Spurs also rising above Arsenal. I mean, they are away at Liverpool. Surely they can’t win that one? Can they?

Selection options
Given Emery tends not to start the same players in Europa League and the following Sunday, it’s difficult to imagine too many changes to the line-up that started in Sheffield on Monday night. That’s madness given that Arsenal will probably need Kieran Tierney’s ability to get a ball in the box, but Emery isn’t going to start him three days after his last game given the amount of games he missed injured at the season’s start. The two possible changes would be that Dani Ceballos – who started neither match during the week – will come if for Joe Willock, whilst we wait to see if Alexandre Lacazette is regarded as fit enough to start instead of Buyako Saka. Given that he didn’t complete a full game against Vitoria on Thursday, I can only see the number 9 being used as a sub, so I reckon it’s most likely just one change in the starting eleven from the previous Premier League outing.

Patience is running thin
In spite of Bramall Lane seeing only Arsenal’s second defeat so far this season, the general chaos in the organisation of Emery’s teams, and the ponderous nature of their build-up play is starting to create a culture of dis-satisfaction with the head coach, which explodes when results are poor, such as in the away games at Watford and Sheffield United. There doesn’t seem to be a solution to this, other than Arsenal simply managing to outscore their opposition, because one thing’s for sure, Unai isn’t going to improve the team’s defensive organization – there is nothing in his history to suggest he can. Frankly, the more you think about it, the more amazing it seems that he won the Europa League three times in a row. And yet, Arsenal are somehow sitting in fifth place, unbeaten in Europe. It’s a very strange season. That Spurs, Champions League finalists, are five places below at least shines a ray of light on the season so far. But that will all be forgotten if Palace win today and demote Arsenal to sixth.

Lightning can’t strike twice can it? Palace have scored a total of eight goals in nine league matches this season. Mind you they have only conceded ten. I’m going to stick my neck out and predict a rare clean sheet for Emery’s men, and a narrow home victory. 1-0. Might not be a thriller, but at this stage, it has to be about points and consolidation. And a few signs of genuine commitment, as displayed by Arsenal’s opponents at Bramall Lane, would be nice. _______________________________________________________________

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  1. itsRonagain2

    Oct 27, 2019, 23:51 #115248

    John [ its an absolute golden invitation to corruption isnt it. Well said. Paul - quite agree. VAR is utter silliness and football is simply not a game to accommodate it. The lunatics are truly running the asylum bringing that in. Refs get decisions wrong. Of course they do but its part of football. The righta and wrongs and the controversies that flow from it are part of why we love football. Its just yet another extension of the sanitization of football linked with the daft desire to americanize the coverage.

  2. John F

    Oct 27, 2019, 23:09 #115247

    Just wondering after today's game and Watford last week if there is some sort of betting on draws scam going on involving var because I just cannot see any reason why that goal was chalked off.Corruption happened in Cricket and could easily happen in Football.

  3. Pauljames

    Oct 27, 2019, 22:39 #115246

    First time I’ve actually seen us ironed out by VAR , and it confirmed what I’ve always thought- its nonsense. We have a referee on the pitch and his decisions should be final. Really frustrated when our winner was chalked off, I don’t pay a grand a year to watch a screen announcing a match deciding call. Anyway rant over. The Xhaka booing was embarrassing and I don’t blame the fella for getting the hump. Fact is you should beat Crystal Palace from 2-0 up.Emery under huge pressure now

  4. itsRonagain2

    Oct 27, 2019, 22:28 #115245

    Its right that Xhaka doesnt excel but in theface of the apparent chanting, hes entitled to have a go back. Hes no mouse. It might be PC to just expect a player to button his lip but screw that. Well done Xhaka. No player should get that treatment and from what i ve heard from a few who still go, its been on going for ages. Theres probably a lot of indiscipline now in the dressing room an hes maybe at the point where hes not bothered about sanctions. Mustafi too. For many decades fans have driven players out of the club. Its nothing new but im guessing the vitriol now is far worse.

  5. markymark

    Oct 27, 2019, 22:11 #115244

    Think we are hitting end stage now with Emery and though I didn’t attend to hear it I understand the Emery out chants were heard? Xhaka is so tied up with Emery it’s untrue. If a new boss does come in he might actually need protecting by dropping.


    Oct 27, 2019, 19:42 #115243

    P45 for Richard in the morning.

  7. John F

    Oct 27, 2019, 19:34 #115242

    There was a moment in the first half when Lacazette turned his back on the ball which was with the Palace defence to have a pop at one of our players.The ball was taken past him while he still had his back turned.That is the sort of complacency that people talk about at Arsenal.2-0 up should of been good enough to beat Palace but this is Arsenal and with the help of an unbelievable decision by var at the end they balls it up.On Xhaka the cheering and booing was out of order.The only players who should get that treatment are the lazy could not care players ,how ironic the crowd chanted for Ozil.I do not rate Xhaka as a player and he shouldn't be in the team but it is not his fault he gets picked its Emerys.In short he is not lazy just not very good where as Ozil is lazy but can be very good.

  8. itsRonagain2

    Oct 27, 2019, 12:04 #115241

    Exactly the type of game ASL likely to win 3-0. Opponent in a false position who are generally and usually cannon fodder. The hope then in the fans gushes forth and all of a sudden people are saying how good Asl looked and how such and such was great and how certain young player has come of age etc etc etc. Same as we ve all heard this last 12 years. The one thing AFC has mastered in that time is how to pull up a tree and get a result just when one was needed. Wherher Dick can pull the rabbit from the hat as well as Wengo could remains open to scrutiny. It’s a perfect day for some flat track bullying. It’s at home Even the Suns shining so our little mites won’t get cold.


    Oct 27, 2019, 10:36 #115240

    Lose this one &, with any truly ambitious Club, Richard would surely be toast. Chelsea now coming on a treat & I predict Leicester will not fall away so Top 4 even is now looking a very distant prospect unless a dramatic improvement comes about. As Kev says, given Dick's track record on defence & rumours of player bewilderment with his Stanley Unwin approach to the english language ( younger readers will have to Google that reference) & "tactics" we can't hope for much. If Raul is a genuine hard case he should be working on an almost immediate change of direction to turn things around, but it is already looking as this is going to be yet another wasted season.

  10. Paulo75

    Oct 27, 2019, 9:37 #115238

    Surely Bellerin and Tierney have to start? They are both fit again and young athletes so I just don't understand this Emery selection nonsense. Leicester now 5 points ahead of us and we go there in a couple of weeks so this is must win. A convincing performance would also be very welcome but I'm not holding my breath there. Be interesting to see if Ozil makes the squad.

  11. Dick Dastardly

    Oct 27, 2019, 9:02 #115237

    I read somewhere Palace have failed to score in 4 of their 9 games this season. Anyone wanna bet they won't today? As the writer says, expect another Bournemouth type game today - 1-0 with a Pepe free kick in the 78th minute maybe. Whatever. 4.30 ridiculous KO time I can only think that NFL farce taking place at Wembley has something to do with it.