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The Eagles duo can upset either side of their day and Mikel Arteta expects them to be out on Thursday.
About three weeks ago, when Arsenal appeared to be in dire straits after a streak of unjustifiable performances and results, fans may have been dreading facing Crystal Palace, the team they host at Emirates Stadium on Thursday.
The supposed fear had nothing to do with the form of Palace at the time, rather, the internal problems in North London; Mikel Arteta’s side were without a Premier League victory in nearly two months, poor in almost every area and seemed to have lost the budding structure that embodied their early growth under the young Spanish manager.
Observers focus on that seven-game winless streak, but tend to forget the results streak even before their 1-0 win over Manchester United on November 1 wasn’t inspiring. A win in four games until they ended a 14-year absence of league wins at Old Trafford meant the book of forms indicated two wins in 12 before Chelsea’s visit on Boxing Day.
The success over the West Londoners, as well as the maximum points against Brighton & Hove Albion and West Bromwich Albion, have lifted Arsenal to 11th place, although they are still nine points behind fourth place in the standings.
While there is a tendency to get excited about the results of the North London team, it should be noted that the change came against a Blues team that is on a losing streak of its own, a Brighton team that has won just two times all season and The Albion with a single win since regaining promotion. The last pair is also among the last four in the table.
One thing Arteta’s men have going for them right now is momentum, but taking on Palace threatens to halt the wellness factor at the Emirates on Thursday.
Roy Hodgson’s team may not have enough to maintain a decent to good level of performance and enough results to see them finish within the top half of the PL, yet they mostly seem up to the challenge against the higher level opposition.
Their 3-1 win over Manchester United on opening day was well deserved, they held Tottenham Hotspur to a 1-1 stalemate in mid-December and were minutes away from securing a win against Leicester City in their last 2020 match.
It is true that there have been disappointing results against Chelsea on the road (4-0) and that 7-0 annihilation by Liverpool on December 19, games that highlighted the ease with which the Eagles have given up in some games of this season.
However, when in it, Hodgson’s team poses problems for the opposition with its determined defense and threat in transition.
The latter is undoubtedly aided by the talisman Wilfried Zaha, now ably assisted by the talented Eberechi Eze since his arrival from Queens Park Rangers in the summer. Even though the danger Zaha carries is widely known, his decisive performances in lifting an overall average Palace team shine through quite consistently.
The kind of danger the aforementioned stars possess has come to the fore in the Eagles’ draw against Leicester at Selhurst Park and their win over Sheffield United in early 2021. Against the Foxes, having received possession within their Luka Milivojevic’s field, Ivory Coast The star advanced with possession, keeping Luke Thomas and Nampalys Mendy at bay before releasing Andros Townsend into space on the right flank.
Zaha, wanting more, broke his neck to dash into the box before outwitting Youri Tielemans with his move to put the hosts to a 1-0 lead in the hour. What was surprising about that move was not just the participation of just three players, but also the desire on the Palace side to provide options for Townsend.
Nine players were behind the ball when Milivojevic passed the dynamic Ivorian, but an extra pair, Jeffrey Schlupp and Jairo Riedewald, gave the home side an additional presence in the Leicester area, while the captain moved close to the edge of the area.
In seconds, the Eagles had gone from the edge of their area with only Zaha and Christian Benteke ahead of the ball, to having no fewer than six players in the Foxes third.
Hodgson receives criticism for his general approach, but he feels the 73-year-old will point to that blow against the team with the league’s best road record as validation of his modus operandi, for better or worse.
As for Eze, the maverick’s solo strike against Sheffield United was the Anglo-Nigerian’s best moment so far in top-notch football.
Just 10 minutes after replacing the injured Schlupp before halftime, the 22-year-old received possession from James McArthur, was confident in his skill and carried the ball into the Blades’ goal.
He smoothly passed a couple of markers after that, doubling a delightful effort past the helpless Aaron Ramsdale, making him certainly a contender for goal of the month and possibly the season.
– Goal Africa (@GoalAfrica) November 8, 2020
That kind of threat will come in handy when Hodgson leads his troops to face an Arsenal team that have kept a clean sheet on three of their last four goals in their supposed rebirth.
In fact, her only concession in the last four games was a late effort by Tammy Abraham in the 3-1 hit that sparked this current turnaround.
Be that as it may, the Gunners have somehow found the Eagles difficult to beat in the past two seasons, unable to outperform their London rivals in all four games since Arsene Wenger’s retirement, a streak they will seek to end on Thursday. .
While his team is prone to being undefeated this season, Hodgson will hope to get the versions of Zaha and Eze, who not only recognize opportunities, but also take decisive action as they seek to extend their undefeated streak against the resurgent three-time PL champions.