BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE?
This fixture has seen plenty of goals in the last few seasons – both teams have scored at least twice in each of the past three meetings, so this could be the first fixture in Premier League history to see both sides score at least twice in four consecutive matches.
We saw a 2-0 lead slip at Emirates earlier in the season, while our last trip to Selhurst Park also finished 2-2, a game in which both teams had led.
In total there have been 26 goals in the past six games – 13 apiece – with Luka Milivojevic netting five for Palace (four penalties). The midfielder though is suspended for Saturday's game (subject to appeal).
We haven't kept a clean sheet against Palace since New Year's Day 2017 (when Olivier Giroud scored his scorpion kick goal), but if we can shut them out this weekend, it will be the first time we've kept three consecutive clean sheets since April.
A GAME OF TWO HALVES
For the first time since taking the job on December 20, Mikel Arteta has had a bit of breathing space to prepare for this fixture. We have had midweek fixtures every week since he took charge, so virtually a full week of training since beating Leeds last Monday has been something of a luxury for the new boss.
"At least we had some time to train a few things that I wanted to start implementing," the head coach said in his pre-match press conference. "It is nice to have a few more players back, a few from injury, and a bigger group where we can be not just match, post-match, recovery, pre-match all the time. They've been training really, really well. The spirit is up, the level of confidence is good and they seem in a good place."
Just exactly what Arteta has been implementing in these training sessions will become more apparent this weekend, but surely a priority is to maintain the same level of performance in both halves.
There was a marked improvement in our performance after half-time in the win over Leeds, whereas we were much stronger before the break in the previous win over Manchester United. We conceded 15 first-half shots in the first half against Leeds, compared to three in the second. Against Man United we conceded two shots in the opening 45 minutes, and eight in the second.
EXPERIENCE v YOUTH
Mikel Arteta is taking charge of only his fourth Premier League game, compared to his Palace counterpart Roy Hodgson who has managed more than 300 games in the competition. In fact the gap of 34 years and 229 days in age between Arteta and Hodgson is the fifth largest between two managers for a game in Premier League history. Incidentally, Arteta was born during the same season that Hodgson took charge of his first league games with Bristol City in 1981/82.
The Spainiard though, has plenty of Premier League experience as a player - and had an eventful appearance at Selhurst Park back in 2013/14 season. He scored in our 2-0 win over Palace (a penalty) in October 2013 but was later sent off – for a professional foul on former Gunner Marouane Chamakh. He also appeared in our 2-1 win there in 2015 - the only other time he played at the venue.
AN EARLY START
This is our third 12.30pm kick off this season – we drew 0-0 at Everton last month and beat Burnley 2-1 in our first home game of the season - but since the start of 2016/17 we have won only one of our eight Premier League away games played at this time. That was back in October 2016 – a 4-1 win at Sunderland. Since then we have gone seven games without winning a 12.30pm match on the road.
In the same timespan we have won all four of our 12.30pm fixtures at Emirates Stadium, so our overall record over the past four seasons is P12 W5 D3 L4 F17 A11.
DANGER IN THE PENALTY BOX
We have conceded four penalties against Palace in the past four seasons - all of which have been converted. Michael Cox of zonalmarking.net believes we will have to be particularly careful of the pace and trickery of Wilfried Zaha near the goal. He said: "Zaha has caused Arsenal problems before, including winning a penalty from Granit Xhaka in the corresponding fixture last season. He’s been used on both the left and right flanks this season, although is more of a goal threat from the former.
"While Hodgson has traditionally like a 4-4-2 system, in reality Palace are considerably more flexible. There has often been a shift to a 4-5-1 system, with Zaha given license to remain in an advanced position, and sometimes a hybrid between the two shapes, with Jeffrey Schlupp often proving useful cover ground and play as somewhere between a central midfielder and a wide player."
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