Crystal Palace Preview: Kallamity Strikes


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. I will tell you though it seemed that we never had to take it out of 1st gear and I think that played a part in our lackadaisical performance on top of Palace parking the bus.

  2. Good to see the subs come on. I thought both goals were excellent and the assists gorgeous to watch as well. Santi’s ball to Ox and his finish were top draw (Ox’s control and then composure in the finish was beautiful). Ox’s then combines perfectly with Giroud for a bit of give and go and a sumptuous finish (although the keeper might feel like he should have done a touch better).

  3. Mert got a yellow card, that’s funny to me because Podolski and Giroud have had that done to them the whole match and it wasn’t even a foul. Mert makes 1 foul all match and its a straight yellow.

  4. I thought Giroud’s new cloak (Jedinak) was a tad ugly and the double arm clasp very yesterday 🙂 he need to set up his style choices.

  5. Special shout outs to Ox, Mert, Kos, Sagna, Arteta and Santi for their stand out performances today.

  6. Now, what do we want to happen tomorrow for Man City v Chelsea….. a draw wouldn’t be too bad, a Chelsea win would be second best. Even if City win…. it will mean that Chelsea have dropped practically out of the race.

  7. First half and second half was like Jekyll and Hyde, poor first but great second half display.

    Wonderful football. Great goals by the Ox

    But we have to stop this thing where we don’t play the first half at all.

  8. Tomorrow I just don’t want City to win. And if chelsea can injuse a few key city players along the way that would be nice.

  9. @Northbank

    5pts behind wouldn’t signal the end of their run at the title what with another 14 games to go and thus 42pts at play.

  10. Any word on Negredo and Augero’s injuries? Them out for awhile would be very beneficial for us.

  11. Great result and well done Ox. Love the fact that different players score, and love the clean sheet.

    We may actually finish top 4 judging by this weekend.

  12. Out of the current top 3, After City game Chelsea have the easiest run in with only Spurs, Liverpool and Everton the worries for them, whereas we have UTD, City, Liverpool, Spurs and Everton as do City.

    I thought today was good, didn’t really need to get out of first gear and it will help to conserve energy for Liverpool and UTD games coming up! Ox hitting form is what we want, and Jack back next week it’s looking good. Flamini can rest up for these suspended matches and come back fresh followed by Ramsey hopefully.

    Thought today Arteta looked weak again, i think this will be his last season of starting as a DM, need to get someone with more pace and athleticism in summer. Sure Monoco will sell Kondogbia!

  13. @ SV. LOL… thought we had narrowed it a bit to top-3, but its good to know that top-4 is almost in the bag… lol

  14. MLF

    Chelsea also have to play us a Stamford Bridge…. we could always play 19th century football and go for a draw

  15. good grief,now the people who were bitching and moaning before the 1st half even ended are acting like they were all behind the team..creating a gazillion chances against a team parking the bus is not easy,i thought people learnt after watching chelsea and westham,next time when we bitch and moan lets at list be intelligent about it,and at list wait until the game is finished and we’v lost 5-0 or something!

  16. “I wanted to go and had a good offer to leave.

    “But the Schalke manager Horst Heldt said no to the transfer and would not let me go”

    Draxler interview on German TV.

    Looks like he’s a summer arrival! With Wenger comments about how OX will be converted to CM, Draxler will play his trade out wide for a bit and eventually be brought to CF i reckon. But i think Draxler to Arsenal looks pretty certain in the summer.

    Can i just ask someone to pass on to Kos to stop playing so well, he’ll be turning Bayern, Real and Barca’s heads now. Mert and Kos, such an efficient a CB pairing we’ve missed for years.

  17. well weird as it may be that we went for Kallstrom. if we do not pay anything for him along as he is injured then .. meh… who cares.. he’s not costing us anything until he can play and if we get a midfield crisis in March he can step in…

  18. @MesutsLeftFoot we always seem to play better against harder opponents though. We seem to always be in danger of “switching off” if the opponent has a to low reputation. So for us there may be a advantage. Means we have to keep sharp and play our best.

  19. Mesut/CFP,

    Negredo made the squad against Spurs. One presumes he’s over his injury woes. Aguero appears to be MCFC’s sole casualty upfront for now.

  20. Did Wenger make any comment about the Kim (oh my back hurts) Källström situation during his pre-match press conference?

  21. Very good win against a team that parked the bus for 90 mins. We all may very well get frustrated at our lack of penetration and goals against teams like this but its VERY tough to get goals and a result against these lower clubs especially when we are the home team. They play for a draw and if we do score they play for goal differential in their fight to stay in the EPL.


    Yea he did, basically said Kallstrom has a micro-fracture in his back, Arsenal knew about it and so did Spartan but they are paying his wages while he rehabs. Then said it was either bring him in or bring in nobody so he choose to bring him in.

  22. Koscielny’s Tushy’s Seams,

    We are fans. We express dissatisfaction when unhappy with the direction the club/management are heading and/or the team’s performance. Blind support is for sheeps. Thankfully democracy – as well as this blog – still enables those of us who are singleminded enough to break out and speak (critique) when required, rather that nodding submissively with the crowd. Is this a problem to you, Sir? If so, why?

  23. @MLF

    I think Draxler is set to come in the summer probably prior to the World Cup. I think if we could get him by the end of February and a deal in place that would be very good.


    What about the prospect of sending Eisfeld plus cash for Draxler since it will now really be tough for him to get in the squad now with Ox being deployed centrally that is just 1 more infront of him. Plus they would be getting a brilliant player that could help them immediately at 21 years old to fill the void left by Draxler. Your thoughts?

  24. Poodle

    I was previously called Cesc Fantastic Pass…CFP! 😉

  25. I hear talk about getting out of first gear
    I dont buy that at all palace played well they defended deeply with chamakh virtually in midfield
    Their game plan worked prettly well in the first and we had to be patient
    With a bank of six facing the ball it was going to take a set piece or a runner from deep getting behind to open them up
    Ox did it brilliantly
    First half Poldi was dropping too deep meaning we couldnt use the space behind the full back
    He also slowed the game when he dropped
    Second half he was a lot more effecrive higher up rhe pitch
    Rosicky coming immediately upped the tempo and made us more direct
    Poldi will need a ran of games to get sharp but with Thomas fit I see him becming super sub
    Clean sheet
    Excellent defence bar one or two hic ups
    Chesney looking good every game massive save twice
    We are in it to win it

  26. koscielny’s pocket says:
    February 2, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Why? We were shite in the first half, and that is a fact. Stating a fact does not negate your support for the team. In the second half we were very good, great tempo and looked more dangerous, that is also a fact.

    You can support a team but still acknowledge faults and problems. The game is finished and now we are all happy, why? Because we won. Why were we moaning in the first half? Because we were attacking wise crap. That’s all there is to it.

  27. C,

    Draxler isn’t a certainty for the summer. If he makes the World Copa and has a terrific tournament, his price is only likely to sour leaving but a handful of suitors able to afford his transfer fee. Unless I’m wrong.

    Furthermore a better and more cost effective player could also emerge. Negating the need for us to do business with Shalke. 🙂

  28. MLF/CFP

    LOL…. the problem with a internet name of a current player is that every time that player leaves the team for another, you have to change your name…… what will be the next one, KBB…………. Kims Bad Back! 🙂 only joking………….

  29. @Borges

    Very true hence why we have to do our work early because even if a striker does have a great tournament, his cost will be quite high. That’s why I would think that we get the work done early and let the World Cup be the World Cup.

    I can rattle off 10’s to 100’s of player that could have a very good World Cup but the thing is getting a young up and coming player that is ultra talented, young and can fight for or take a current players spot is hard to find and Draxler fits the bill.

    I could be wrong I have been before and I will be other times in the future. But I could be right too ;).

  30. Schalke kind of remind me of Spurs in the way they conduct transfers, it’s never easy with them and they drive up prices to extremes. At 20, is Draxler worth 37million for potential? No. But would i take him? Yes.

    I think if he pushes himself for a move, we could get him for around £25million.

    All spec though. 8 points clear of Liverpool coming into game next week, let’s hope it’s 11 by end of the weekend and City and Chelsea are nursing losses as well

  31. City are playing Norwhich, i take that back. Let’s hope City don’t score to many or hurt themselves celebrating

  32. Grenier and Lacazette are both roughly similar age and posses similar skill set to Draxler. For £37million ($53million), we could acquire the pair.

  33. With that said, I would start the same XI against Liverpool as there will be more apace to operate and I think our midfield of Arteta/Ox/Ozil could overrun Liverpool’s midfield if Henderson/Gerrard/Countinho.

    We are top of the League!!!!! Who would have predicted this after the way the summer went and the Villa match, but Ozil has been a massive massive signing and Mert, Kos, Gibbs, Nacho, Sagna and Szcny have been absolutely brilliant all year.

  34. @C

    In answer to your question. I could see a deal for Draxler including Eisfeld but the problem is the latter will have little cash value given he has not made many senior appearances. I think it is more likely that Podolski could be part of any deal. I understand you don’t want to hear that but it is the more likely scenario of the two.

  35. I think AW needs to forget Draxler, he needs to look at Lacazette at Lyon….. I’ve seen him play a few times and he defo looks like another TH

  36. to answer a question above, Wenger confirmed he signed Kallstrom despite the back injury – which is a micro-fracture – as KK was a ‘free loan’ (always irresistible; bet he fills his trolley with BOGOFs) and Spartak agreed to share the costs of getting him right. He also said it was either KK or no-one as they couldn’t find anyone else.
    I’m not making any of this up.

  37. Lacazette – young, pacey and technically assured forward. Similar height and build to Suarez.

    Grenier – A playmaker who can play everywhere in midfield apart from CDM. Can score with both feet. Similar build and height to Draxler. Has the added advantage of having played a season longer than the German. Which makes him even less of a longterm gamble.

  38. @MA

    That’s very well could be true or even Fabianski as he is looking for both a new home and Schalke looking for a keeper. Could make for quite an interesting scenario to say the least.

    Ox played really well both going forward and defending. A couple more performances like that with Jack and Ramsey coming back and it could make for quite a battle for that spot but more importantly its GREAT for Arsenal as they will all have to raise their level of play to not only start but stay in the starting XI.

  39. @Borges

    We don’t need any more midfielders though we need wingers and strikers thus Grenier would be surplus and not needed. Plus Draxler is 6’2 according to both Germany and Schalke.

    Anyways there will be plenty of time for that. Lets just enjoy being top of the EPL, I know I will and am!

  40. @Sam

    Thanks for that……… it makes the situation a bit more palatable


    Not sure if there is anything on U Tube about Lacazette, but if you get the chance to see him play…. he has a very ‘Henry’ way of putting the ball in the net

  41. In a midtable team given a run of games and Chamakh would prove good business to be fair to the lad. He did turn Kos a couple times and everything good they did attack wise came and ran through him.

  42. Thanks Borges

    He does look like a young TH. I watched a Lyon game recently and the goal he scored was so Thierry Henry. This is the player I think AW should be after for CF

  43. Congratulations to our young Ox for handling CM duties with such poise. Both goals were beautifully and calmly taken. Even more, I was delighted with the way he retained the ball. He kept his passes simple. When he was personally challenged, his strength helped him escape.

    I think Wilshere is also hugely talented, but Ox’s combination of steadiness on the ball, and outstanding finished product on this day at least, are tough to beat. Amazing the way these gifted young British midfielders are pushing each other and the team. COYG…. Anfield ’14!

  44. LOL…well I guess I was viewing the match through goner-tinted lenses. According to Sky and Opta:

    “….at the interval, Oxlade-Chamberlain had a pass success rate of 84.8 per cent, which was less than any of his fellow Arsenal midfielders. He had also played only 34 passes in Palace’s half of the field at a success rate of 82.4%. Both of those latter statistics were again less than any other Arsenal midfielder.

    Oxlade-Chamberlain had also lost possession 12 times before half-time and had won only 37.5% of his eight duels owing to tackling not being one of his strengths.”

  45. Back from the game after a couple of pints. Great possession all through the game and Palace were never really a threat, but we have to learn how to break these defences down. We were really average in the final third in the first 45 and a lot of that is down to the slow play of players like Ozil and Cazorla. What really frustrated me in the first half though, was the numerous attempts at one-twos that failed miserably. I’m a midfielder running towards the area and I flick the ball in to Giroud who has his back to goal, he then attempts to flick it back to me as I run into the area. Palace swallowed it up every time, it was so obvious what we were going to do and the ball back from Giroud never found its mark. it wasn’t his fault, it was just obvious what would happen. So how about we mix it ? The odd shot from the area rather than the obvious. If we try the same play every single time it is clear that it is too easy for a ‘park the bus’ team to defend.
    In the second half it was completely different, early balls and slicker passing being the key to our successes. Love that we can keep getting these results and three points was critical today, but why are we now looking at each game as a mountain to climb? Southampton away and Palace at home should have been 6 points in the bag and unfortunately it was only 4. Some people seem to think that it wouldn’t have been too bad if we had managed 2 points from those two fixtures. That to me would have been a disaster.

  46. @ borges ..u can moan all u want,since u say thats what being a fan means to u,i wont be attempting any citizens arrest on u for it,i just find it a bit funny the way,im also a fan,i just choose to not moan about every misplaced pass,or tempo of the game,or bitch about it before the game even ends,there’s twitter for that,but like u said,this platform is democratic,so each to his own.

  47. Great result. I did not get to see the second half but the first half looked exactly like the first half of the majority of our games this year. Great about this team was that I was confident the defense would keep a clean sheet and we would figure out some way to score a goal or 2 in the second half.

    Great to see 2 excellent finishes from Ox. We have debated about him being a midfielder or a forward. His passing was certainly not eye catching but his finishing was today. Whichever position Arsene decides is right for the Ox, he needs to be a goal scorer. Someone with his talent is a game changer and I don’t see him changing games with his passing. Goal scorers are the ultimate game changers and thats what he needs to concentrate on. Don’t want to get to excited about 1 game but what in the world do we need to spend $37M for the Drax when we already have the Ox.

  48. we wont be spending anything on draxler, schalke said we never even made a bid for him the offer they rejected was from someone else..

    so thats the end of that..

  49. I don’t know how Podolski looked in the second half but he was very underwhelming in the first half. However, so was everyone else. Hopefully Arsene will give him another shot.

  50. Koscielny’s Fan Club,

    Listen up, I have no beef with you or anyone who choses to express support in a manner not akin to mine. To each, his own. But I tell you this, If we didn’t “moan” as you put it, blogs such as our very own ACLF and other discursive medium where fans regularly interact would become redundant.

    Opinions. Banter is all part of the beauty of the game and sport in general (levelling field). All views are welcomed – so long they are neither inciting nor contain malicious, racial, sexist, homophobic or violent undertones. Athletes express their talent under the banner of competition; fans do same with opinions. If you find that amusing, in the words of Isaac Hayes, ‘Do your thing’ – laugh on.

  51. I thought Ox had a pretty poor first half, even by the low standards we set collectively, but I loved how he became aggressive and made some great runs in the second half. Well done Arsenal.

    I still think we will have some struggles this month-just too many big games against top quality opposition in a very compressed period and our squad is a bit thin on fit and in form options. Ox answered some big question marks about where extra goals might come from and what advantages he provides the team now that he is fit and firing. So we’ll need performances like that more consistently; if we get them, we’ll survive this tough period.

  52. Rosicky HAS to play against liverpool, he and Chamberlain should play, maybe wilshere as well. Podolski should play as well because they will attack, so that should him space.

    But Rosicky is a must, versus City and Bayern as well.

  53. This team keep grinding out results. They may not be as pretty as they have been before but they seemed to have acquired some steel. Thought the BFG was great today.

    I would make crap manager, the Ox lost his radar in the first half and some of his passes were poor. I would have subbed him.

    Shame Poldi didn’t di better, but they looked a lot better when Rosicky’s came on

    Here’s hoping for multiple red cards and injuries tomorrow and as much as it pains me come on Chelsea

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