Crystal Palace Preview: Suited and Booted

Despite Sunday games being the norm for a couple of decades, once in a while, it feels weird to be writing a match preview on a Sunday morning. I know what you’re thinking; it’s weird for me to be writing anything in the mornings recently. And that’s a very loose flinging around of the term ‘recently’.

At least it isn’t a long journey to Selhurst Park for the team today. Not in mileage, at least. Travel time might be the same as travelling to Manchester and back given the traffic but I’m sure we won’t be as slack-jawed as United in that respect.

Palace haven’t scored in a home Premier League match this season and that’s usually a record we like to end. Whether that is the case in the Unai Emery era will be revealed this afternoon. 

For Arsenal, the obvious aim is winning. Twelve in a row – someone said equally Arsène’s best-ever run; whether that’s true I know not – is a great confidence booster. Winning breeds confidence and despite the good results, it seems to be a fragile thing. The longer the run, however, the less irreparable the damage when results go against you.

Which is, I admit, something of a glass half-empty kind of thing.

The biggest boost to confidence would be a 90-minute performance. Unai is on the case:

How can we improve? One is to be more consistent in the first half, controlling the game and imposing our ideas. For the 90 minutes, we have a good balance but our ideas is also in the first half to do better in each match.

Unai Emery on the first half problem

It’s not an answer, of course. But it is good to see the issue isn’t ducked, in interviews at least.

Dynamic Duo Strike Back

Which, in no contrived manner whatsoever – and it genuinely wasn’t – into the latest from the dynamic duo. Raul and Vinai spoke about life going forward – expect a splurge of gushing pieces this week about Ivan – and the reality of the Premier League era.

Venkatesham spoke unashamedly as a suit would:

We want to win the biggest trophies in the game and, if you compete in the Premier League, there are only two – the Premier League and the Champions League

Robin on trophies

Nothing wrong with that ambition but any supporter will tell you, any trophy will do in between titles. Aim high, but never lose sight of the things below either.

We’re some way off winning either the Champions League; a little closer to the Premier League but still not challengers yet. Batman and Robin know that and are focused on the steps to bring glory to north London. “That is a step on the journey,” Robin said before distancing himself from the old regime; “but not the ultimate ambition.”

Well said. Just the small matter of delivering. And that won’t come with the help of a ‘Sugar Daddy’.

I’d completely get that if there was one team who was winning the league every year by 20 points who had a completely different model to the rest. But that’s not what I’m seeing generally in the Premier League. That’s not what’s happening.

Should have gone to Specsavers

Which is disingenuous to say the very least. Eight of the last fourteen titles went to ‘Sugar Daddy’ backed clubs and I dare say this one will as well. United’s self-sustaining model works when they have a great manager rather than the trash artists of recent years. I prefer them to have trash artists as managers before you ask.

Who’s the Daddy?

While I don’t rule out a title challenge, we’re struggling to match their finances. Batman thinks it is down to “efficiency” in building the squad and using the moneys.

He too said getting back into the Champions League was a key objective; it’s the money-making machine. Reinventing the wheel isn’t his job but next summer’s departures of Welbeck, Ramsey and Cech aren’t going to be repeated. The concern right now is how they are replaced which is why I think both the former will be sold if offers come in during January.

Apparently, Enos and Junior are more committed than ever now they own the club lock, stock and barrel. Committed but no more inclined to invest in it. Paso a paso m

But that’s enough of the suits for today. There’s a match to enjoy. I’d expect the team to be close to the one which beat Leicester on Monday. Mustafi and Holding at the centre of the defence with Monreal or Lichtsteiner on the left.

Which leaves the question of Cech and Leno. The German has done nothing to warrant being axed for the Czech but then Cech was in no danger of being dropped before injury struck. It’s a tough love story either way. Personally, I’d keep Leno in the first XI with a long-term outlook prevailing.

It leaves my XI:

Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal/Lichtsteiner; Torreira, Xhaka; Iwobi, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

29 thoughts on “Crystal Palace Preview: Suited and Booted

  1. Thanks YW.
    Enjoying the dynamic duo series .
    Photo shoot from training yesterday. No LBs in sight. Could have been in a test , but would have been missing the ‘game specific prep’ that I think we are hearing about from the players.
    The Leech ,with the breaks on to start with I hope, Then.

    Maybe Danny first ,then Auba later. Either way that’s a strong offence

  2. Great summary on the latest sharings of Batman and Robin.

    I totally appreciate that we have to work within the confines of a “self sustaining model”, but trotting out that line, like they expect us to be filled with joy at the great values of our club, is tired.

    We have been here before. So why don’t we drop the righteousness and just get on with it.

    Suggested line up, looks about right. Fully expect Torreira to tune in to Bellerin’s task of attacking like a right winger whilst nullifying Palace’s best player and one of the trickiest in the league.

    Here’s to a first 45 minutes! We are definitely due. More due than a draw or a loss surely.

  3. Leno
    Bellerin—Mustafi—Holding—-Xhaka
    ———Guendouzi—Torriera
    Iwobi——–Ozil———Aubameyang
    Lacazette

    Sub: Cech, Sokaritis, Lichtsteiner, Ramsey, Smith-Rowe, Welbeck, Mhkitaryan

  4. Glad we go with Xhaka on left and see Guendouzi paired with Torreira—midfield of the future. I think Lichtie was exposed on left. But Xhaka will have his hands full and won’t get much help from Auba. Holding and CM will have to help him with Zaha. Still I expect us to concede. 1-2 Arsenal

  5. We’re looking after the ball well in their half and nursing it into their penalty area, but not able to finish it. Scrappy, high energy game – our fitness levels are going to count later.

  6. Good afternoon All. Been a while since I had time to see all that is Arsensal.

    When are We actually going to start playing in the 1st half??

  7. Was it deliberate handball? Yes.
    Was Laca being held? Yes.
    Would Atkinson have awarded a penalty? Not in this universe.
    Do I feel bad. No.

  8. Palace moan about Zaha being accused of diving, but it’s because he does dive. Been poor today though. Not really sure why Iwobi stayed on the pitch today. PEA would give is a threat right up to the final whistle.

  9. Wavey,

    Agree 100% about Zaha. It was still naive from Xhaka and typical from Atkinson.
    Bad mistake to go to ground from Mustafi for the first pen.
    Not a great performance but it was a scrappy game that could have gone either way.

  10. Game over, I did say a few days ago that I would prefer Aubameyang coming into games from the bench because he is wasted out on the left. 22 out of a possible 24 points before Liverpool, is a good return. Emery might want both strikers on the pitch, but the best balance is having a full flowing team, injuries took their toll, but maybe this game might have been won if different tactics were employed.

  11. Wavey:
    Palace moan about Zaha being accused of diving, but it’s because he does dive. Been poor today though. Not really sure why Iwobi stayed on the pitch today. PEA would give is a threat right up to the final whistle.

    Against Palace I would have expected a different approach from Emery, with Andy Townsend, Zaha and co, I would have started Welbeck and Ramsey. Then turninng the screw with Aubameyang to finish the game off.

  12. I did not expect 3 points after the mid week game in Portugal. It’s a tough fixture list. To concede two penalties and to totally give away game control is regrettable though.

  13. When you have 4 goals, none of which came from real open play, it cannot be a game to savour.
    Palace are a team of “no-hopers” and on this occasion dragged Arsenal down to their level.
    We were far too casual though and often gave the ball away carelessly, particularly in dangerous situations.
    Penalties and Atkinson go together…….especially against the Gunners. 😉

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