Preview: Arsenal look to bounce back against Pardew’s Crystal Palace


Arsenal have a tricky trip to the Selhurst Park this Sunday to square off against a sprightly Crystal Palace who are riding high on the back of their 3-1 victory against Norwich City. The victory has placed them at 3rd in the Barclays Premier League standings after the first gameweek.

Things with Arsenal are not looking as rosy as they seemed before kickoff against West Ham, with the 2-0 loss dealing a blow to the great amount of optimism which was palpable around the Emirates after such a successful preseason. I’ll have to say that for me, the negativity surrounding a single bad result has been badly blown out of proportion. It was just a bad game. Our midfield wasn’t clicking with Cazorla being moved out wide to accommodate Ramsey and Coquelin at the base of the midfield.

It just wasn’t happening for us, especially in the second half. As is the case with us, we looked very comfortable and most likely of the two sides to open the scoring. We were creating decent chances with some good individual moments but we let the opposition score against the run of play with a sloppy mistake. The defence failed to mark Kouyate giving leaving him free to head beyond an onrushing Cech. Shouldn’t place the blame on only one player as the team collectively failed to defend the set piece. It just went south from there on in the game for Arsenal. The effort of the lads cannot be faulted as they’d prepared as well as one can imagine for the game but unfortunately their efforts couldn’t be reflected on the score sheet. The lads would do well to dust off and get ready for the next fixture. It is the only wise thing to do.

The one point which intrigues me particularly is the selection of the pair to start at the base of midfield for the next game. Monsieur Wenger interestingly chose to switch places of Cazorla and Ramsey, with Ramsey moving into the midfield base to partner Coquelin whereas Cazorla moved outwide. Although average positional graphs from the post-game analysis of the West Ham game indicate that Santi didn’t stay as wide as he probably should’ve been to provide width on the left wing. This is interesting considering the fact that the closing stages of the previous season saw Cazorla partner Le Coq to wonderous effect with Ramsey playing out wide.

One of the most noted midfield performances of the 2014-15 season was delivered by Cazorla away at Manchester City to gift Arsenal a 2-0 victory, a victory which indicated an epochal change of Arsenal’s approach to an away game against a big team. Perhaps after so many eye-catching displays at the center of midfield, Cazorla didn’t warrant to be moved out of a position where he rediscovered himself for the sake of the team. Maybe Wenger was just trying to play Ramsey who is a bona fide match winner on his day in his natural position. I believe that all the ingredients are there in the midfield picture for the Boss to find a perfect balance in the selection of the 3 midfield positions which will probably make or break Arsenal’s quest for the title.

Focusing on the match at hand, it’ll be interesting to see if Wenger persists with his new combination of Ramsey-Coq at the base against the Eagles, or if he reverts back to his previously successful duo of Cazorla-Coq who seem to complement each other’s polar skills very well. I believe that the same squad which had started on the opening day will start this Sunday. Let’s hope that the North London club will beat the club from South London to get the 3 points, because it is highly imperative that we win this match to further not lose the already fading optimism and hope around the Emirates. A victory would do us a world of good at this juncture. Here’s hoping we get our first points of the season at Selhurst Park.

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