Crystal Palace v Arsenal

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Gallery

Pictures: First team train ahead of Crystal Palace

Arsenal train ahead of Palace (a)

The lads trained at a snowy London Colney for the final time ahead of Thursday's Premier League trip to Selhurst Park.

Mesut Ozil, Alexis and Alexandre Lacazette were among those in action, as we prepared for our penultimate game in 2017.

Our club photographer was there and sent back these pictures:

Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey were the three players who went into Christmas nursing injuries - on top of long-term absentee Santi Cazorla.

When will that trio be back? We’ve got the latest from Arsene Wenger:

on the latest team news…
Nacho Monreal is out of course because he got injured [against Liverpool], Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey are out as well and that’s basically it.

on the timeframes…
Nacho Monreal I would say hopefully 10 days, Giroud as I said before is four to six weeks, but he is a quick healer so I am hopeful he will be less. Aaron Ramsey should be back at the beginning of January.

on whether he will replace the injured Giroud…
No, Olivier Giroud will be back in January.

on his timeframe…
Yes I said four to six weeks, but the incident happened on the 10th of December, so the 10th of January or 15th he should hopefully be back.

News

Wenger - Why Kolasinac has been out of the team

Sead Kolasinac has not started in the Premier League since our 1-1 draw at Southampton on December 10.

But why is that?

Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ emergence is certainly one factor - the 20-year-old’s pace and increasing comfort in defence has earned him a starting spot in recent weeks.

But Arsene Wenger says a shift from a back three to a back four has also counted against Kolasinac.

“He is highly suited for a wing-back role, for a more offensive role,” explained the boss. “I think he will play again and I gave him a breather as well. He is working hard and I think he will play in a back four, as well.”

The back three has been jettisoned this month but Wenger will not rule out a return to the system with which he started the season.

“I will still adapt because we are capable to play in a three as well, because the team has practised now in both systems so we are adaptable.

“But, for me, we didn't score enough goals away from home. So that's why [I switched]. I felt as well that sometimes our game was a bit too lateral.”

Goals

Check out our best goals away to Crystal Palace

We’ve travelled to Crystal Palace eight times in the Premier League era - but we’ve still scored some special goals in that time.

Remember Olivier Giroud’s overhead kick a couple of seasons ago? And what about Paul Merson’s free-kick? Or Ian Wright finishing a fine team move with aplomb?

Watch five our our best goals against Thursday’s opponents above and then vote for your favourite below:

News

Wenger - Every game is like Russian Roulette

When Arsene Wenger took charge of his first game as Arsenal manager on October 12, 1996, he had no idea what lay ahead.

Now, the Frenchman is poised to equal Sir Alex Ferguson’s record of 810 Premier League matches as manager when we take on Crystal Palace on Thursday night.

It is an incredible achievement - and one that he can scarcely believe himself.

"I would have said 'you're absolutely mad, absolutely no chance' [would I take charge of so many games],” Wenger said.

“I remember when I was 33, 34, I thought that to 60, is 25, 26 years and you'll never get there. Because every game is such a gamble. It's Russian roulette, every game. So you think, at some stage the [bullet] will hit you. So that's absolutely unbelievable. You can never predict that."

“I just remember in our first game I banned all the chocolate that the players had before the game. When we drove to Blackburn on the coach, the players chanted, ‘We want our Mars Bars!’

“Now they have their music. It has changed but, overall, it is more the décor that has changed. The core of the game is the same. That means the spirit, quality on the pitch and human beings putting their effort together to achieve something. What has changed is the society. We have gone to more individualism. More individual plan of careers so that is more anxious for the players as well.

“Football has become more important [over the past 21 years],” he added. “We live in a society that is more demanding, that is more opinionated. The overall problem in Europe is that the respect for basic things has been lost or is less strong that it was 20 years ago.

“Basic values are that I respect you. It's as simple as that. You go to a doctor and he is more questioned than he was 20 years ago. Twenty years ago, you go to a doctor, he says you have that, you say ‘OK I will go home and do that’. Today, when you go to see the doctor, you have read before on the internet and he has to convince you that you have not necessarily what you think you have. So that basically means that you are questioned more. In every single job, people are questioned more.

“But as well you have positive things. People are better informed, people are better educated. People have more knowledge of the game and of things. So you have to think of balance.”

The Breakdown

The Breakdown: Palace v Arsenal preview

We’re back in Premier League action on Thursday when we travel to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace.

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox and former Gunner Adrian Clarke examine our opponents in detail.

THE MANAGER

MC: Roy Hodgson’s England spell ended with the infamous defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016, but he’s consistently proved successful with midtable Premier League clubs, taking Fulham from the brink of relegation to the Europa League final, and also impressing at West Brom. His impact at Crystal Palace has been remarkable – he took charge when they’d lost every game and were cut adrift at the bottom, but they’re now on their longest Premier League unbeaten run and out of the dropzone.

AC: He’s a bit of a slow burner but he’s been a manager for this long for a reason. He knows what he’s doing and he can organise a team. He keeps things very simple and there’s nothing too complicated about his tactical awareness, but he gets it right.

FORMATION

MC: Hodgson experimented with formations as England manager, but with Crystal Palace has largely stuck to his tried-and-tested 4-4-2 system. This previously featured two wingers playing up front, in Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha, but the return of Christian Benteke from injury means the Eagles can play with a more traditional targetman.

AC: What I was really impressed with was when Hodgson was without Christian Benteke and he put two wingers up top in Wilf Zaha and Andros Townsend. Not a lot of managers would have done that but it worked. It got them out of their rut, everyone was suddenly very excited to watch Palace and enthusiasm returned. Since then, the team has definitely gone on an upward curve. Palace, out of everyone in the bottom section, are playing the best football right now.

STRENGTHS

MC: Hodgson has improved Palace at both ends. Defensively they play in a traditional, solid shape having failed to grasp Frank De Boer’s more cultured methods, and in an attacking sense they break forward quickly to exploit any weaknesses in the opposition’s defence.

DANGERMAN

MC: Zaha is in superb form, whether fielded up front or on the flanks. He recently assisted James McArthur’s last-minute winner against Watford in hugely impressive circumstances – after moving to the left, Watford manager Marco Silva introduced Kiko Femenia to play as a second right-back in front of Daryl Janmaat, such was Zaha’s threat. But the wingers dribbled past both to set up McArthur, showing that even ‘doubling up’ against him isn’t always successful.

AREAS TO TARGET

MC: Goalkeeper Julian Speroni is a genuine Palace legend, having played more than 400 times for the club. But at 38 he’s not the most mobile goalkeeper around, and should be regularly tested here.

News

‘You must believe there’s a light in human beings’

Arsene Wenger celebrates beating Manchester City at Wembley

Arsene Wenger’s stamina, dedication, loyalty and values are all valid reasons why he’s on the cusp of matching Sir Alex Ferguson’s record of 810 games.

But the man himself has singled out a quality that rarely gets a mention - his faith in people.

“The most important thing that people never maybe talk about is to believe in human beings,” said Wenger, who is set to break Sir Alex’s mark at West Bromwich Albion on New Year’s Eve.

“Despite all that, when you're such a long time in the job, you’re not naive. You know all the strengths and the weaknesses and how sometimes people can be selfish or mean. But you still have to believe that there is a light in every human being that you can get out.

“Where that comes from, you don’t know, but you must have that strength of belief in human beings that always takes over at difficult moments. That is basically for me the most important quality in this job.

“I think you have that or you don’t have that. But if you are paranoid, don’t choose this job. You have every reason to become more paranoid.”

Press conference

‘Yes, I will be busy in the transfer window’

Arsene Wenger has long advocated the abolition of the January transfer window but, for now, he has to live with it.

The New Year will herald a new round of bidding and speculation as clubs look to improve their squads for a late-season push - or give fringe players opportunities to get game time elsewhere.

Here’s what the boss said about his expectations for this January and his stance on Alexis:

“I will be busy, yes, because first of all you have clubs that call you to get players on loan or to buy your players, and as well I’m open-minded to any possibility to strengthen our team.

“But honestly we have not been approached by anyone [for Alexis] and I’ll just stick to what I said before [that I want him to stay].”

Matchday Show

Follow our game against Crystal Palace LIVE

Matchday Show: Palace (a)

We’re back in Premier League action against Crystal Palace on Thursday evening - and you can follow the match LIVE on Arsenal.com.

Tune in to our website for the following:

  • Matchday Show, with live build-up from 7.30pm (UK time) and audio commentary from 8pm (UK time)
  • Live text commentary - featuring minute-by-minute updates and insights from our fans on Twitter
  • A short goals clip and full match highlights will be available from midnight on Thursday

It's all free with Digital Membership - and remember, you can listen on the Arsenal App too!

Press conference

Take chances, stop conceding, play with spirit

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

For Arsene Wenger, there’s plenty he wants to change once 2017 turns into 2018. And a fair bit that he wants to keep intact.

“What we want is to stop conceding goals, stop missing chances, but as well I want the team to continue to play with the same spirit, the same determination and the same love of the game,” he said. “That is for me important and is maybe the best way not to concede goals anymore.

“We should be higher [in the table] of course and we are not happy where we are, and we have to correct it. We do not play and put the effort in to be where we are, we want to be higher up.”

For all that, 2017 has had plenty of memorable moments. An FA Cup win, another Wembley triumph in the Community Shield, the emergence of a new crop of talented young players and an enviable record at Emirates Stadium.

“We have been very consistent at home and the quality of our performances has been absolutely fantastic,” said Wenger.

“We lost one game that even a neutral observer would concede that we had an outstanding performance in a unique game that we lost. Overall I believe the consistency is not in question.

“We have to find a balance, we are an offensive team and we take a gamble and a risk and we stand up for that but we have maybe to find a better balance between offensive and defensive efficiency.

“We always have a high number of players in front of the ball. If you look at the league you can analyse it in that way. You take team after team, how many players are in front of the ball when you attack?

“We are one of the teams in the league who has the most players in front of the ball when we attack, that means that for us to get back quickly and defend quickly and transition is absolutely vital.”

Interview

Why the boss would ‘scrap’ the January window

With the January transfer window nearly upon us, there is already widespread speculation about the business that will take place over the next month.

But if Arsene Wenger had his way, all player trading would be resolved before the season starts.

“I would scrap the transfer window in January, completely cut it off,” the boss told Arsenal Player.

“The players today are very well paid, they make a lot of money. What you want in return is commitment to the club for the whole season. I think that’s absolutely vital. I think you should not be able to move once the season has started until the end of the season.

“Nobody knows [how it would affect pre-season if the window closed then]. I believe people would adapt and make their decisions earlier.

“What happens now is that you’re contacted 48 hours before the end of the transfer market and people ask if you’re still interested in a player you worked on for three months. They close the door and open it suddenly with two days to go. 

“It’s all rushed decisions and hectic in the last week. I believe that is not right.”

 

Press conference

Wenger on Wilshere talks and Kane goals

Jack Wilshere’s future, Harry Kane’s goal tally in 2017 and the prospect of facing a much-improved Crystal Palace side.

All that and more were on the agenda when Arsene Wenger faced the media on Wednesday.

Catch up with some of the key quotes here:

on having a Christmas break…
It’s a good feeling and a new one for me, but overall it was quiet and gives you a little bit of time to reflect on what happened in the game before, when usually you have no time over Christmas to prepare for the next one and to think about the next game.

on Mourinho saying that £300m isn’t enough to win the Premier League…
Look, I have been in that position for 21 years so I will not start to complain now. There is always one team, sometimes four, who were richer than I was, so I learned to cope with that and to deal with that. I think what is most important is you deal with your own situation as well as you can and, yes, Manchester City are richer than us, yes, Chelsea are richer than us and Manchester United are richer than us. But I still believe we have to find a way to be successful.

on the latest on Wilshere and his contract…
I will sit down with him, yes. I believe that, if we can meet a point of agreement financially, he will want to stay.

on if it’s true that Giroud turned down Everton because of not wanting to move north…
No, I don’t think so, because he could have joined Everton and stayed basically in London. I don’t think that was the problem.

on if he’s surprised Palace have pulled clear of trouble…
No, they were a bit unlucky at the start. They had many injuries at the start. If you look at their team, they have quality players. Roy Hodgson has experience of the Premier League, so I’m not surprised.

on Hodgson not ending in a nice way with England…
Look, for me, the opinion of Roy Hodgson was as high as it is now. It can happen that you have a bad experience and that’s what happened with him in the European Championship. But that doesn’t question 40 years of working in the game.

on if Wenger thought it was possible to score as many as Kane has in a year…
Yes, because he’s done it. Would I have predicted it? I would say no, because what he’s done is to beat people like Messi and Ronaldo, who were unbeatable in my head. What he has done is absolutely fantastic.

on the games in England being more competitive…
Yes, they are. That is why what he has achieved is absolutely amazing.

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