Crystal Palace were held to a draw by 10-man Everton in midweek in a result which perhaps emphasised the greater focus both teams have on the upcoming FA Cup semi-finals. Following their win over Norwich last weekend it was a point that has them virtually safe, particularly with Sunderland and Norwich having to face each other this weekend. So there shouldn’t be a better time for Arsenal to play the Eagles.
The Gunners had to settle for a point last weekend as Andy Carroll gave their defence a torrid time but Palace’s attack is not nearly as dangerous and certainly not as physical. While Arsenal can probably forget about ending their title drought this season they still have some work to do to ensure a top-four finish, but that’s something they’re generally much better at. Four wins in 12 shows how their season has fallen apart but that does include three wins in their four against teams currently in the bottom half. Moreover, they’ve won 16 of 20 home games against bottom-half finishers in the past two seasons and have won five of six hosting the current bottom-half this term. 16 of those 21 wins were by more than one goal and they will expect another commanding win here.
Palace have slumped from sixth after 17 games to briefly worrying about relegation before last weekend’s win, as that was their only success in 16 matches. Palace have lost all eight trips to the top four in the past two seasons and this term have lost 1-0 at both Leicester and Spurs before going down 4-0 at Man City in their most recent of these matches. Eight of these 11 defeats have come to nil and scoring has certainly been one of their biggest problems this season as only three teams have fired more blanks.
The Gunners defence hasn’t been the most reliable of late but they were 4-0 winners against Palace’s fellow FA Cup semi-finalists Watford in their last home game and we expect a similar result this time around.
The win to nil is odds-against at 2.25 but we just prefer the handicap lines. Arsenal to win by more than one is the Asian line at Evens but it could be worth taking the bigger handicap here with seven of Arsenal’s 11 wins that have come in their final five home games of the season since 2011/12 being by at least three clear goals.
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