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By Bulldog Drummond
Last season after two games Arsenal had two wins, had scored six and conceded two, and that left the club in second. Manchester City had scored six and conceded none. No other club beyond Arsenal and Man C won both games.
This season so far two clubs have won both games. Manchester City is as we would expect one of those two again – and although they have only scored four goals in the two games, but they have conceded nil. And they have a team above them in Brighton. (Data throughout from 11v11).
Last season Palace started with a 0-2 home defeat to Arsenal and an away draw with Liverpool, which told us something of the way the season would go. This season they started with a 1-0 away win to Sheffield United.
Crystal Palace recovered last season to finish in mid-table, just above Chelsea and with Hodgson back once more as manager after Patrick Vieira departed, and with Hodgson staying they are expecting to improve on 11th position.
So let’s look at the home and away form of the clubs last season.
|Crystal Palace home||19||7||7||5||21||23||-2||28|
The difference is very much in Arsenal’s favour, with Arsenal getting 11 points more away from home than Palace did at home. Arsenal’s goal difference away from home was 19 goals better than Palace’s home goal difference.
In the 14 games against the “big seven” teams, Palace did not score a single win across the 14 games. There were home draws with Manchester United, Newcastle United and Liverpool, and away draws with Liverpool and Newcastle, both in the early weeks of the season. In all their home draws with big seven clubs were
|15 Aug 2022||Liverpool v Crystal Palace||1-1|
|03 Sep 2022||Newcastle United v Crystal Palace||0-0|
|18 Jan 2023||Crystal Palace v Manchester United||1-1|
|21 Jan 2023||Crystal Palace v Newcastle United||0-0|
|25 Feb 2023||Crystal Palace v Liverpool||0-0|
However although their results against those clubs didn’t pick up as the season progressed Palace did do well against other teams from outside the big seven, and in fact across the last five games of last season plus the one game this season the clubs are in close proximity.
With Hodgson back in charge their ability against the larger teams will undoubtedly improve. He left Palace for retirement in May 2021, and returned “til the end of the season” on 21 March 2022. At that time Palace had just suffered a 4-1 away defeat to Arsenal – the last of a run of 12 games without a win in the league.
Through the rest of the season they won five, drew three and lost two. Their goal difference was +7 across those nine games.
This is a small ground but not a particularly small pitch. The ground holds 25,486 while the pitch measures 101 by 68 metres. Arsenal’s ground measures 105 by 68 metres. This is helpful since obviously with the width being the same Saka and Martinelli will be in known territory. The length of the pitch makes little difference to Arsenal since they are not engaged in a long hopeful punt upfield game.
But perhaps the most pertinent element of Palace’s recent history is that in their last six games they played West Ham, Tottenham, Bournemouth, Fulham, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United. Only one of those clubs was what we might call a bigger force in football, and that club (Tottenham) have been very much a mid-table team across their last six matches.
So although Palace have recorded three wins and two draws in the last six they were in games against those clubs listed above, none of whom might be currently called a major force in football.
But last season was Palace’s 10th consecutive season in the Premier League, a run that has seen them finish 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th (twice), 11th (twice), 12th and 15th (twice). But of course, no matter what the past tells us, they still have to be beaten.
However Palace has only beaten Arsenal once in the last 12 meetings, and that was a 3-0 victory at their ground on 4 April 2022. The total results of those last dozen meetings (all of which were in the league) was five Arsenal wins, five draws and two Palace wins. So as we can see, they can beat Arsenal, but not often.
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