Crystal Palace Preview: Kallamity Strikes

aloto

Sunday arrives with Arsenal seeking to return to the top of the Premier League for twenty-four hours or more. With City and Chelsea meeting at Stamford Bridge, a home win is essential to capitalise on either or both dropping points. It is tempting to launch into an analysis of the what-ifs of the various permutations tomorrow but Arsenal need to win today to make it worthwhile and in any case, that is all that matters; everything else is out of their hands.

A point at Southampton ought to be considered a good result but has the hallmarks of the opposite, no matter how Arsène might wish to dress it. The doubts emerge, I think, because of the poor first-half performance. A convincing win today would offer a better perspective on midweek and a welcome distraction to the circus which is beginning to develop around the club. Having almost weathered the storm over the January transfer window and with people getting used to the idea that Kim Kallstrom wasn’t the 16-year-old Championship Manager prodigy but an adult almost twice that age, the last thing Arsenal wanted was news of a new injury breaking.

Except it wasn’t a new injury to the club, only us as supporters; Arsenal knew all about it when they signed Kim Kallstrom. There was a good reason why his back problem was not made public knowledge at the time of ink drying on paper, the reaction to Swedish news reports suggesting a three-month absence completely ignored the fact that the player remains at the club. Most loan deals have clauses which cancel the agreement in the event of serious injury; a three-month recovery period would have triggered exactly that. Within minutes, the injury was downgraded to missing six games meaning the Swede will be available in early to mid-March. Around a fortnight before Aaron Ramsey. That is the same Aaron Ramsey whose injury necessitated the club scrambling around at the last-minute in the transfer window.

Kallstrom’s injury is baffling. The injury isn’t because they happen all the time but under those circumstances, signing a player who will miss one-third of his loan spell certainly is. There are only two plausible explanations; the club were desperate and / or Arsène did not think the injury as serious as he was being told. With Flamini absent for three games, he took a risk and with the information becoming public knowledge, the PR element is lost. More important for him is the rest of the season and with a minimum of eighteen games left, Kallstrom will be available for around a dozen. However, there is a second strand of risk: injury to currently fit players and that is where Wenger’s decision to sign the midfielder is bemusing. He needed cover now and finds himself trying to cover the cover. Utterly bizarre and entirely avoidable.

The roots of the problem lay not in this transfer window but six months ago. Signing Mesut Özil proved entirely worthwhile and by all accounts it was not a deal which the club stumbled into, planned with early contact with Madrid. But the overriding perception of the summer was not of a coherent transfer strategy and Arsenal’s needs now are no different to then; we still wince when Olivier Giroud hits the turf and the midfield still needs cover, as it did then. It is naïve to think the club will spend £40m each transfer window but it is not naïve to think they should have dealt earlier instead of waiting for the mythical deal which never comes. January’s trend was to leave transfer business until late and Arsenal are not alone in following that. However, in doing so they are exposed to higher prices – selling clubs know the game; they are playing it themselves. More importantly, it leaves options limited if deals fall through or problems emerge. You sense Arsène had nowhere left to turn to strengthen his squad and had little or nothing to lose by progressing with the Kallstrom deal; better someone for later than none at all.

More on the injury will be known later today as the manager faces the media ahead of the match against Crystal Palace. Yes, it is easy to forget that there is ninety minutes of football today.

Having dropped two points in midweek, Arsenal need a win and a good performance. Nothing wrong in taking a point or three when playing badly, winning ugly is part of football. A good performance ahead of testing fixtures does wonders for confidence and this is a squad which should be brimming with belief. Even when they struggle to muster a meaningful shot on target in forty-five minutes, they have the ability to turn a deficit into a lead. As the manager pointed out afterwards, the disappointment at St Mary’s was in conceding so quickly after Cazorla had struck. It was defensive slackness to which we have become unaccustomed this season. Compounding the surprise is that two of the manager’s trusted lieutenants were at fault for the equaliser.

Even so I don’t think there will be many changes to the team for today. Nacho Monreal having seemed to be battening down the hatches on the left back slot, had an unusually poor evening at Southampton and if Kieran Gibbs is fit, I would expect him to regain his place in the side. It is harsh but that position is one where the manager has options to pick purely on performance.  The only other change is for Flamini. Arsène welcomes back Tomas Rosicky today and with the lack of options, it is hard to see beyond the Czech international partnering Mikel Arteta in the centre of midfield. It leaves Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain once more on the bench. Will the recent woes over injuries make Wenger wary of rushing the England international back? It leaves the line-up something like:

Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Rosicky, Arteta; Gnabry, Özil, Cazorla; Giroud

Three points is the focus for the players today, returning to the top of the table the objective. Despite Palace’s resurgence under former Orc general, Tony Pulis, surely Arsenal are too strong and will romp to a comfortable victory?

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

 

282 thoughts on “Crystal Palace Preview: Kallamity Strikes

  1. OK………… ref against us on penalty appeal…………. Palace parking the Horse and Cart….. it’s gonna be a tough fucking game, strap in boys, the Palace players will be KKKKKnackered in the second half. We’ll go for the killer punch then!

  2. Oh for the love of god, shoot!

    Stupid triangle passing

    And are we a team of midfielders, every bloody player is clogging up the middle.

    So irrated, we’re about as dangerous as mewing cat.

    And absolutely zero movement, and i mean zero, just standing there backs to goal.

  3. Bill

    No bill, if you play short passes and cute triangles then its difficult

    But if you pepper them with shots outside the box then they will not be able to hold out for long.

  4. @Pistol

    Try nutjob

    @Bill

    We all know you don’t 😉 mate. Podolski and Nacho are switching in and out quite a bit thought to be honest.

  5. Our defense must be irrated with a incompetent attack.

    Its just pass, pass to a player with back to goal, he passes back, outwide then inside again.

    Rinse, repeat

  6. @Moe

    I agree shoot but there is literally no space to shoot, plus Giroud is more a target than somebody to turn and have a go. Podolski is probing but when there is no space with a bank of 5 and teh other bank of 4 its hard.

  7. Podolski that’s the drive and aggression that made you one of my favorite players. More of that please except don’t pass have a go!

  8. C

    First time i don’t agree with you, there is plenty of space if we stop the stupid one twos and endless triangle passes.

    Bypass the midfield , go straight wide or to ozil in the middle, then he has a shot or passes it to an onrushing podolski.

    Our players are not making runs, we are stationary, there is times when the opposition stifles you while your playing well.

    We are not playing well.

  9. C

    the reality is that we do get width from the fullbacks. I think there were some of us who thought that Podolski would add more width on the left then cazorla. I think the opposite is true.

  10. @Moe

    The thing is that Giroud at present the way we are playing isn’t a goal threat so Palace is loading up at the top of the box. I do agree that the little 1-2’s need to turn into 1 and shoot.

    I agree completely on the pass to Ozil, Ozil lay it properly and Podolski have a run at it and put it in the back of the net.

    @Bill

    We get width from both our fullbacks and our “wingers” but in a match like this Nacho and Sagna are staying forward so they are providing the width most of the time. If you watch though, we are trying to overload the side with Nacho and Podolski furthest wide left with Ozil Santi and Giroud playing in the middle.

  11. Borges Spinelli

    I didn’t want to believe it before but we are toothless.

    We never look likely to score , and thats been the case for a while now.

  12. It does seem a little groundhog day with the short passing to feet with the player receiving the ball with his back to goal. The few opportunities we have basically created have been with Monreal getting around their full back. Nothing wrong with having your full backs providing width, but we are way to congested in the middle and the tempo is to slow. Still, it is only the first half.

    Need to get Ox in the game more, he is the only one creating a higher tempo what with his faster passing and the range thereof. Ozil, showing his great talent but again the balls are always in to players with their backs to goal.

  13. 75% possession. WOW! We ought to be converting this sort of dominance into something more meaningful. One would have thought by now we were more adept in handling such defensive oppositions. We encounter them often enough.

  14. Typical Pulis–sitting deep, keeping defensive shape and hacking and fouling.

    Surprised Poldi and Ox both on with no Rosicky. Cazorla hasn’t been too effective on the right and the Ox doesn’t seem to drive forward and dribble so much from central midfield which is what we need to break down the defensive tactics–some brilliant dribbling to open space up. Maybe Ozil can do something g. The intricate passing is not quite precise and quick enough so far as chances have been few. Poldi has been on but almost put Merts in a bad situation with lackadaisical movement. He needs to step up.

    All to play for and we can do better. But I’d like to see Rosicky maybe in the last 20 for Arteta if we are pressing for a goal.

  15. 75% possesion……….. nothing to show for it, Palace playing park the Hackney Cab plus the horse and cart. Changes in play needed for the second half. At the moment 1-0 will do me!

  16. Credit Palace for a solid defensive effort and especially their fans who are creating a great atmosphere.

  17. Interesting stat line, since Tony Pulis has taken charge Palace have conceded fewer goals than any other team in the EPL.

  18. Second half i reckon we need Rosciky on, always ups the tempo! Arteta just kills the speed of a counter attack! Ox needs to have a bit more confidence, he’s neglecting throw balls in favour of sideways passing, but we’re looking a bit reluctant! If we get 1, we’ll go from there, as soon as Palace open up we’ll take them apart. Plus, that was a blatant penalty for holding on Giroud

  19. Moe,

    We will get punished badly against better teams if we keep dilly-dallying with the ball in the final third. It’s an Achilles heel of ours over recent seasons.

  20. What about switching Ox and Santi. Palace isn’t creating anything so Santi would be fine playing centrally and have the Ox on the right wing. That would allow for Santi and Ozil to enjoy and boss the middle and Ox give us somebody running at them from the right side.

  21. @MLF

    I thought Arteta has done a great job today actually, tackling and intercepting the ball. These are the things he is in the squad for.

  22. We either need to start crossing from wide for Giroud, or sit back and let them come at us so we can hit them on the counter. What we are attempting right now is clearly not working against a team that is set up to do nothing but have 10 men behind the ball.

  23. I said yesterday that the lower teams are starting to grow some Dangloids and Palace are proving my point today.

  24. @C

    Palace may not be creating much but as we all know it takes just one mistake to be chasing the game. Unlike other games, I’m good with the personal on show they just need to up the tempo and someone needs to run at the defenders more.

  25. Exactly, MLF. Always would play Tr if he is fit. Just the thing to drive through defense. Ox needs to do the same from out wide. He’s good centrally but his pace and dribbling aren’t in as much evidence from there.

  26. I love my team, but today makes me so frustrated.

    When player’s shoot or take a risk, then there is always a chance and that chance can be multiplied by a lucky deflection or other circumstances.

    But when we play safe passing to the guy about 1 metre away from you, you create nothing.

    Palace came to defend, they are so so comfortable. So easy for them.

  27. @MA

    I think the thing with Arteta is that he is really good at what he does but sometimes when there is a chance to break he tends to play the safe pass instead of the forward pass. Now its not a bad thing at all because he keeps possession but in a match like this were we need the tempo to be higher, he needs to play the forward pass to help drive us forward. Again he has been great at doing exactly what he is great at doing which is intercepting and breaking up their attacks, making timely tackles and holding on to the ball.

  28. When Podolski, Ox, Santi, and Ozil have run at them good things have happened but they are not doing it enough.

  29. Palace have come for a point…… we need to get Ox out onto the wing, Ozil and Podolski i the middle, bring Rosicky on for Arteta and play him on the right…. keep Giroud up front

  30. I see your logic Viceologist. Except I can’t see our CF outpacing their defense if we were to counter.

  31. viceologist says:
    February 2, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Exactly

    This is not the first time, or 5th time this season that we play a damp squid.

  32. Ox!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That was a brilliant pass and run from Santi. Run at players and what a calm composed finish from Ox.

  33. Rosicky on the left I meant, play a 4-1-4-1………. that’s the only ay we’ll break Palace down.

  34. @Moe

    Yea, Santi ran at Palace and then brilliantly picked out Ox making a forward run to the 6 yard box. Ox took 2 touches and calmly chipped it over the keeper.

  35. Kallstrom hurt his back playing beach volleyball on Tuesday with Spartak in Abu Dubai. He was expected to miss 3-4 weeks from that injury itself.

    Arsene what were you thinking.

  36. Not dealing with the ball well at the back and deep midfield. Getting a bit nervy the play. Good that Tr coming on to drive forward.

  37. Ox!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Well done lad, MOTM performance no doubt. What a lovely little flick to Giroud that was.

  38. If he steps up like this we won’t miss theo too much– pace and dribbling–both goals made by running behind the defense.

  39. One of the best things about this season so far is that we are getting contributions from the entire squad. Today the Ox had truly stepped up. Great to see!

  40. @LSG

    He worked hard and combined well with Ozil as they seem to ALWAYS look for each other. More of this starting lineup playing against teams that don’t park the bus like against Liverpool and I think they will carve teams up and score goals for fun.

  41. Ox has done really well but both of his goals came from the center and running from the center.

    Seems Arteta wants to show his passing ability going forward. What a nice little dink that almost came off.

  42. I would start the same starting XI against Liverpool next week as there will be more space to operate and create and score goals.

    Ozil with his 1st shot of the match!

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