There's no denying that it's been a tough week for everyone of an Arsenal persuasion. The defeat at Bournemouth got things off to a bad start, and the intense media glare and constant off-field speculation has made it doubly trying.
So it comes as a relief to turn back to matters on the pitch, and a chance to start the process of climbing up the table. As Granit Xhaka says, the team need to iron out the "small details" that are holding them back on the road - and with three games out of the next four at home, we have an opportunity to build confidence again.
But Crystal Palace under Roy Hodgson will certainly make life difficult. The Eagles were rock bottom when the former England manager took over, now they are firmly ensconced in mid-table. While we have only lost one of our last 16 games against Saturday's opponents, they are unbeaten in five on the road.
It is all set up to be another big test for Arsene Wenger's men, and you can read on for a comprehensive pre-match briefing. We’ve got classic goals against Crystal Palace, team news, an exclusive chat with the manager, match facts, graphics and a chance to have your say.
Wenger on an opportunity with three of the next four games at home...
“It is [a boost]. I’m convinced that we have to bounce back and focus on our performance. Also, we must not forget that we did some good things at Bournemouth. We must wipe out what we didn’t do well. We made some positional mistakes, so therefore we have to focus on our game. That is to go forward and create chances. That’s what we want to do."
ARSENAL: Cazorla (calf), Giroud (hamstring), Kolasinac (foot - doubt), Ozil (knee)
CRYSTAL PALACE: Schlupp (ankle), Townsend (ankle - doubt), Dann (knee), Puncheon (knee), Loftus-Cheek (ankle), Sakho (calf), Ward (groin), Wickham (knee)
Former Gunner Adrian Clarke:
“Roy Hodgson never goes hell for leather. It’s just not part of his DNA as a coach. He is first and foremost a pragmatist. He will set up to defend and counter, but he is not silly and he would have seen the teams that have got after Arsenal in recent weeks. The shape will be the most important thing, but when they turn over possession expect bodies to fly forward in numbers. Palace have the tools to create problems for Arsenal."
THE LAST WORD
Wenger on protecting the players from the off-field speculation…
“I do it by getting them to focus on what is important for us. That means the performance, the way we want to play, by reminding them of our goals for the season, the targets we have and how important every game is now for our future. The best way to not be distracted is to focus on what we want to achieve."
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