Arsenal face Crystal Palace in the Premier League at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
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EMIRATES STADIUM VISITORS
KEY BATTLE - ARTETA v WARD
All eyes will be on the midfield on Sunday, and with Arsenal suffering selection problems due to the absence of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere (both injured) and Mathieu Flamini (suspended), added responsibility will fall upon Mikel Arteta.
The vice-captain is only just back from injury himself and he will be expected to take charge of the centre of the park, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain his likely partner. Arteta is highly experienced and his opposite number, Joel Ward, is nominally a defender, but has found himself pushed further forward under Tony Pulis.
Ward has impressed in midfield and has won a 61.6 per cent of his duels and made 120 recoveries. However, his pass completion rate of 65.6 per cent shows he is not a natural midfielder and could be rushed into errors if put under pressure - and this is where Arteta will look to dominate.
It promises to be a fascinating battle, but one the Spaniard will be confident of winning.
ARSENAL v CRYSTAL PALACE - MATCH FACTS
- Arsenal have won 14 and lost just one of their last 20 Premier League games at Emirates Stadium
- Crystal Palace have scored just five goals away from home in the Premier League, fewer than any other team and never more than once in a single match
- The Gunners have kept six clean sheets in their last seven Premier League games on home soil
- Arsenal have won five and lost none of the last eight meetings with Palace in all competitions
- The Gunners average 1.84 points per game in Premier League London derbies and Palace 0.90 per match. These are the best and worst points returns respectively of any capital clubs
- Arsenal have drawn 99 Premier League games at home in Premier League history
- Crystal Palace head into this matchday in 14th place having scored only 15 goals; the fewest of any side in the Premier League this season so far
- Seven different Arsenal players have scored headed goals this season, more than at any other club
- Arsenal have won 12 and drawn two of their last 14 Premier League games in February
The matchday programme is now available on the iPad! Find out more here.Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 31 Jan 2014