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Arsenal Can Close in on the Top Three
Thursday, 29 December 2016 22:19
Arsenal Can Close in on the Top Three
CosminIftode / Shutterstock.com

With Liverpool and Manchester City playing each other in the Premier League this weekend, it’s a great opportunity for Arsenal to make up some lost ground on those teams.

Arsene Wenger’s men struggled to break down a stubborn West Bromwich Albion team last time out and needed a late Olivier Giroud winner to seal the points.  Having lost their previous two league games, this was always going to be an important match for Arsenal and as the clock ticked down, another disappointing result was seemingly on the cards.  In truth, it wasn’t as if Arsenal did not create chances throughout the match but Ben Foster was in inspired form and Wenger will be hoping to build on that win against Crystal Palace.

The Eagles arrive at the Emirates Stadium with a new manager, Sam Allardyce.  The former England boss took his team to Watford for his first game in charge and came away with a point.  However, having dominated for periods of the first half, Allardyce will feel his team should have been out of sight by the time Troy Deeney scored from the penalty spot for Watford in the second half.  Still, it was a decent start for Palace under their new manager.

Unfortunately for Crystal Palace, trends show they are in for a tough afternoon.  Arsenal are undefeated against Crystal Palace in their last eleven meetings in the Premier League, with Arsenal winning seven of the last eight.  In fact, Crystal Palace have won only one of the previous twenty-three matches against Arsenal in the Premier League, which is a very poor record.  Add to the mix the fact Arsenal are undefeated in their last eight Premier League games at the Emirates Stadium and the huge task facing Allardyce and their players becomes clear.

Crystal Palace’s problem this season has been conceding goals and away from, their defending has been very poor.  In their last five away league games, Crystal Palace have conceded 15 goals, at an average of 3 goals per game and this will be music to the ears of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, who enjoy nothing more than a free-flowing, open game.  One thing in Palace’s favour is their ability to score goals away from home and they have scored in their last eight away Premier League games, including three at Hull and four at Swansea.  However, due the number of goals conceded, wins have been difficult to come by and Arsenal to win with both teams to score is worth a look.

Arsenal do not know what it is like to go into half-time of a Premier League game losing.  They haven't lost at half-time any of their last twenty-nine matches in the Premier League, which is a tremendous record.  Unless Crystal Palace can produce their best performance of the season, Arsenal are likely to go in at half-time at least level and then go on to claim the win.  Crystal Palace may be more difficult to break down than they were under Alan Pardew but ultimately Arsenal have too much quality.

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OVERALL TABLE PTS GP W D L GF GA +/-
1. Chelsea FC 52 21 17 1 3 45 15 30
2. Tottenham 45 21 13 6 2 43 14 29
3. Liverpool FC 45 21 13 6 2 49 24 25
4. Arsenal 44 21 13 5 3 48 22 26
5. Manchester City 42 21 13 3 5 41 26 15
6. Manchester United 40 21 11 7 3 32 20 12
7. Everton FC 33 21 9 6 6 32 23 9
8. West Bromwich 29 21 8 5 8 28 28 0
9. Stoke City 27 21 7 6 8 27 33 -6
10. Burnley FC 26 21 8 2 11 23 31 -8
11. Bournemouth 25 21 7 4 10 30 37 -7
12. West Ham 25 21 7 4 10 26 35 -9
13. Southampton 24 21 6 6 9 19 26 -7
14. Watford FC 23 21 6 5 10 23 36 -13
15. Leicester City 21 21 5 6 10 24 34 -10
16. Middlesbrough 20 21 4 8 9 17 22 -5
17. Crystal Palace 16 21 4 4 13 30 40 -10
18. Hull City 16 21 4 4 13 20 45 -25
19. Sunderland 15 21 4 3 14 20 40 -20
20. Swansea City 15 21 4 3 14 23 49 -26

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