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By Bulldog Drummond
Back in September, Crystal Palace beat Manchester United away 0-1 having lost 3-0 four days earlier to the same team, at the same ground.
Since that win in the league on 30 September Palace have beaten Burnley away 0-2, drawn with West Ham and Manchester City away, drawn with Brighton at home, and finally on 30 December beaten Brentford at home.
In terms of goal scoring, they are the third-lowest team in the league with just 22 goals scored. Burnley have scored 21 and Sheffield United 15. Although interestingly if we just look at away league games six teams have scored fewer, including Manchester United with just nine league goals away from home this season.
As for Crystal Palace away from home, this season, they have the sixth-best defence in the league having conceded just 15! Which tells us that they are the sort of team that is often labeled “resolute” by journalists, who have been ordered by editors not to tell it really as it is.
Now we might remember that in the last few games Arsenal have done ok against Palace: a 0-2 away win at the start of last season, and a 4-1 home win in March, followed by a 0-1 away win at the start of this season.
But the eight games before that point were very different, for in those eight games between Crystal Palace and Arsenal, played between 8 October 2018 and 4 April 2022 Crystal Palace won two games, Arsenal won just one, and five were draws. Not the sort of record that encourages belief that Arsenal can win the league!
So we might also think it could be very helpful for Arsenal to have all their first-team players ready for the fray but unfortunately, this is not the case.
Premier League injuries is reporting that Arsenal have seven players either injured or playing in the latest set of internationals that are arranged during the course of the season. That does sound bad, but in fact half the league clubs are reported as having more than seven players out, and Arsenal are one of four clubs with seven men down.
The worst afflicted clubs are four sides with no fewer than 11 men out: Newcastle, Nottingham Forest, Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United. That really is an extraordinary number of players injured half way through the season. The best off are Luton and Manchester City with four each.
So let’s have a look at Arsenal’s injuries along with the two players who we have lost to international tournaments.
Jurrien Timber of course we know about, but it is now being said that he might be ready to play again at the end of April. Fabio Vieira could be back in February.
Thomas Partey on the other hand is still ruled out. However it is reported that he is getting closer and could be back next month.
Oleksandr Zinchenko meanwhile is suggested in some quarters as being ready to be in the squad for the game against Palace, and the same is true for Gabriel Jesus. So that could mean the number of injured is actually smaller. Although Mo Elneny is with his country in the African Cup of Nations while Takehiro Tomiyasu is engaged with the Asian Cup.
Put all that together and we have three definitvely out through injury, and two who maybe ready to play again with two away playing games with their countrymen.
For Crystal Palace there are six injuries and absences. Cheick Doucoure is ruled out with an Achilles problem, Jesurun Rak-Sakyi has a long term thigh injury, our old friend Rob Holding is out with a long term ankel injury, while Joel Ward and Michael Olise have thigh injuries.
On the international front Jordan Ayew is away at the Africa Cup of Nations. So that is five injuries and one international absence for them all told.
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