Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's host Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Sunday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Crystal Palace's crucial 1-0 victory over Norwich last weekend was their first league win of 2016, but the Eagles remain capable of frustrating opponents with deep defending and quick counter-attacking.
Palace's major problem this season has been their lack of attacking firepower, with Alan Pardew using no fewer than eight players up front at one point or another.
Glenn Murray, Fraizer Campbell, Marouane Chamakh, Dwight Gayle, Connor Wickham, Bacary Sakho, Yannick Bolasie and Emmauel Adebayor have all been handed opportunities, but none have scored enough to nail down a starting place.
"The back four is the only section of the side which has remained largely unchanged. Dann and Damien Delaney are a fine centre-back combination when able to defend deep, while right back Joel Ward is a steady, underrated performer"
It's not surprising that only Aston Villa have scored fewer Premier League goals from open play this season, although only Tottenham Hotspur have scored more from set-pieces.
Centre-back Scott Dann is the main threat when Palace have corners, and is the club's joint-top scorer in the Premier League this season with five goals, alongside Wickham and penalty taker Yohan Cabaye. The towering Wickham might lead the line on Sunday, especially after Arsenal had so many problems against Andy Carroll last weekend.
Palace's formation is usually 4-2-3-1, and their counter-attacking mindset means there's a strong emphasis on pushing midfielders forward in support of the lone striker.
Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha are both extremely speedy, tricky wingers - although Bolasie has sometimes been used in the No 10 role. Jason Puncheon, who hit a long-distance winner against Norwich last weekend, can play either as a third central midfielder or from the left flank, and is another dangerous counter-attacker. Palace concentrate on attacking down the flanks, and have played more crosses than any other Premier League side this season.
Pardew spent a club record fee to sign Cabaye last summer, having worked with him at Newcastle, and intended to build his side around the Frenchman. But Cabaye has epitomised Palace's slump in the second half of the campaign, and sometimes Pardew hasn't seemed sure of his best role, using him at both the top of the midfield trio, and at the base of midfield. He remains an excellent passer, however, and is capable of putting Palace in charge of games.
The back four is the only section of the side which has remained largely unchanged. Dann and Damien Delaney are a fine centre-back combination when able to defend deep, while right back Joel Ward is a steady, underrated performer.
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