Crystal Palace and Arsenal are separated by just a single point in the Premier League table ahead of their meeting at Selhurst Park on Saturday (7.30am ET).
Palace have never finished ahead of Arsenal in a top-flight season but find themselves a place and point above their fellow Londoners past the halfway point of the campaign. They sit ninth to Arsenal’s 10th and just three points separate them from fifth.
That is partially a function of the struggles some of the usual challengers towards the top of the table, including Arsenal, have had this season, and partly because Palace are putting together a good campaign. If they maintain their points accumulation rate they would finish with their highest top-flight tally since the early nineties.
At Fulham, West Brom and since 2017 at Palace, Roy Hodgson has proved himself to be a coach capable of creating very solid mid-table or better Premier League teams. Palace’s matches may not be the most thrilling – their fixtures have featured less goals than those of any other team this season – but by staying tight and getting goals where they can, they’ve achieved good results.
Only Watford have scored less than Palace’s 19 goals so far this season, but only three teams have conceded less than their 23. They come into this weekend’s fixture having lost just one of their last eight league matches. It is a run also comprising three wins and four draws. On Boxing Day, Connor Wickham grabbed a late equalizer away to Norwich in a 1-1 draw.
Palace will probably drift slightly away from the top eight or so as we get towards the end of the season. Their underlying statistics are not as impressive as results and their approach relies too much on fine margins consistently going their way to have any confidence about them finishing in the top eight. They will certainly secure an eighth consecutive campaign in the Premier League, by far the longest sustained top-flight stay in their history.
Arsenal had rather more lofty goals than Palace coming into the season. They came home just a point shy of the top four last season and would again have expected to be heavily involved in the battle for a Champions League qualifying finish. Things haven’t gone that way at all. Instead, they are 10th, nine points removed from Chelsea in fourth.
Unai Emery paid for their poor results with his job at the end of November. After a period under the interim charge of Freddie Ljungberg, it is another of the club’s ex-players, Mikel Arteta, who has been handed the full-time task of turning the tide at the once perennial top-four finishers who now look likely to finish outside of those positions for a fourth consecutive season.
Arteta left his position as assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and it seems that he will seek to implement similar ideas to those of his former boss. After a rather muddled year and a half under Unai Emery, Arsenal have taken a bet on an inexperienced but clear-minded young coach who can help set the direction of the club going forward.
Results aren’t really of paramount importance between now and the end of the season. An argument could even be made that avoiding qualifying for next season’s Europa League might provide Arsenal with a better chance of fighting for a top-four finish next time around. Arteta was nevertheless glad to get his first win on the board on Boxing Day with a 2-0 triumph at home to Manchester United.
If Arsenal are to make a concerted push for at least a top-six berth then they will really need to start improving their away results. They have won just twice on their travels this season and generally have a decidedly middle-of-the-table record away from the Emirates. That isn’t something they can be expected to improve much this weekend.
Our Preview’s Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal Betting Tips, Picks & Predictions Verdict
A repeat of last season’s draw could well be on the cards but if there is to be a winner, it is more likely to be Palace. For those seeking a bet with the American bookies, this is our match betting prediction:
- Bet on Crystal Palace to win on the ‘draw no bet’ market @ +195 with Bovada.