Can Arsenal maintain their position at the top of the table or are managerless-Crystal Palace about to spring one of the surprises of the Premier League season? Here’s our preview and all-important Opta pre-match prediction.
Arsenal vs Crystal Palace: The Quick Hits
- Arsenal the unsurprising Opta supercomputer favourites to pick up the victory against Crystal Palace on Sunday (54.4%).
- It will be the Gunners first league double over the Eagles since the 2017-2018 season.
- The win will also see Arsenal create English Football League history in London derbies.
In their London derbies so far this Premier League season, it couldn’t have gone more differently for Arsenal and Crystal Palace. Whilst the Gunners are unbeaten in all nine of their games (W8, D1), the Eagles have won just one of their eight (D2 L5).
And it does get worse, I promise you.
Crystal Palace have scored the fewest goals (five) and have the worst goal difference (-10) in such games so far this term. Arsenal, meanwhile, have conceded the fewest goals (four) and have the best goal difference (+16).
So why should you stick with reading the rest of our preview for this game and not tune out believing that it’s going to be nothing but a victory for the Gunners?
Well, Arsenal have won just two of their last nine Premier League games against Palace (D5 L2), with both of those victories coming at Selhurst Park. Palace are unbeaten in four games at the Emirates, with the last three all ending in draws although they’ve kept just one clean sheet in their 22 away leagues games against Arsenal, during which time they’ve conceded 49 goals.
But add in the intrigue following Patrick Vieira’s sacking on Friday and maybe some sort of ‘new manager bounce’ will come on a day of the week that has proved promising for the Eagles. Palace have won three of their last four Premier League games on a Sunday, although they did lose the most recent such fixture at Chelsea in January.
Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal – 5 August 2022
Who would have thought this balmy August Friday night would be the start of something incredible for Arsenal in the 2022-23 season?
A 50th league win for Mikel Arteta as the Gunners boss after 98 games (making him the second quickest to the milestone in the top-flight after, who else, Arsene Wenger (94)), coming courtesy of Gabriel Martinelli’s opener and a late own goal from Marc Guehi.
It was just the second time that Crystal Palace had lost a Premier League game under Patrick Vieira at Selhurst Park by two or more goals (the other being a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool in January 2022) – a feat they have since doubled this season (Fulham 3-0, Spurs 4-0).
Martinelli’s strike was his first of 12 goals so far in the Premier League this season. It was the first time the opening goal of the Premier League season was scored by a Brazilian, although the fourth time this feat was achieved by a South American, following in the footsteps of Faustino Asprilla (1997-98), Carl Cort (1999-00) and Luis Suarez (2011-12).
Much like Arsenal’s recent form, Martinelli has been flying. He’s netted five goals in his last five appearances whilst the Gunners have won each of their last five Premier League matches. Not bad for a player who many were expecting to see dropped from the side as Manchester City overtook them at the top of the table and in our supercomputer’s prediction for the season.
Over the past five games, Arsenal have netted at least three goals in four of them, including in each of their last three games. It has been a while since Arsenal last won four in a row whilst scoring three or more goals – a run of five between August and September 2004, coming off the back of their ‘Invincibles’ season.
They’ve built their dominance this season around home form, having won 13 of their last 16 home games in the Premier League (D2 L1). And as the cliché fanatics like to say, they’ve shown the hallmarks of a ‘winning’ team by ‘leaving it late’ recently – two of their last three victories at the Emirates have come courtesy of 90th-minute winners.
Perhaps it isn’t too much of a surprise that Vieira’s time at Selhurst Park came to an end with the Eagles on an 11-game winless run that threatens to drag them into the relegation battle following a third successive 1-0 defeat on Wednesday, this time against Brighton and Hove Albion.
The Eagles have managed just four goals since the turn of the year, and only Southampton, Wolves and Everton have scored fewer than their 21 goals so far this campaign.
But it seems the ‘bigger’ the game, the more Palace can rise to the occasion. They’ve avoided defeat in each of their last three Premier League games against sides who started the day the top of the table (W1 D2), keeping clean sheets in each of their last two. It feels like a tough ask on current form, but maybe this is the bounce back the Eagles need.
Players to Watch
Arsenal: Gabriel Magalhães
Let’s look away from the strikers for a brief while and focus on what has undoubtedly been one of the keys to Arsenal success: corners.
We’ve touched on this briefly elsewhere on the site throughout the course of the season – the Gunners like to use in-swinging corners and pack the six-yard box to create confusion. Gabriel has made the most of this more than any other player in the side. Since his Premier League debut in September 2020, no more player has scored more goals from corner than him (equal with Harry Kane, 10).
And with the help of our ‘First Contact at Corners’ metric, we can see how Arsenal make him a focus of their set-piece success. Martin Odegaard leads the way for the side since the start of the 2020-21, although that comes from him receiving the bulk of short corners. But when they get it in the mixer, it’s Gabriel who makes first contact more than any other player.
Overall in the Premier League this term, Gabriel Magalhaes has made first contact from 25 corners, but that’s only good for equal 26th-best (with Wolves’ Daniel Podence, Aston Villa’s Ezri Konsa and Newcastle United’s Dan Burn over this period).
Lewis Dunk (52) leads the way from Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk (48), while fellow short-corner specialists Wilfried Zaha (47) and Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne join Odegaard on (43). Despite playing limited gametime, Manchester United’s Harry Maguire also sits on 43 first contacts from corners.
Whilst he might not be targeted as much as other players, when Gabriel does rise highest, it usually results in goals – something Palace will need to be aware of in the six-yard battle.
Crystal Palace: Whoever is in the dugout
When we initially wrote this preview, Vieira was still at the helm and had been highlighted as the ‘player’ to watch. Although the face in the dugout will be different, it doesn’t change the fact that whoever is in charge must sort out their woes in front of goal. Palace have not scored in 425 minutes of Premier League football, and at times they haven’t looked likely to either with only Bournemouth (171) managing more shots in the competition (186).
But funnily enough, after their recent spate of struggles in front of goal, which featured a run of three games without a shot on target, Palace created good opportunities against Brighton with Wilfried Zaha, Michael Olise and Odsonne Edouard all guilty of spurning chances. It felt like Vieira had begun to reconstruct the Palace puzzle.
One blessing for whoever takes over after this match is there’s just 10 games remaining in the season, eight of which come against sides lower in the table than them right now. Perhaps that’s why, despite their stinking form, our supercomputer hasn’t given up on the Eagles just yet, giving them just a 5.3% chance of being relegated.
Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Prediction
Crystal Palace’s glimmers of a return to form in front of goal will come a little too soon for them on Sunday, with the Opta supercomputer predicting Arsenal (54.6%) will pick up the victory and maintain their title charge.
In doing so, they’ll create a piece of English Football League history. It’ll be their ninth victory in London derbies in the Premier League this season – no other side has achieved that feat in all-London matchups in a single season before.
There would be no surprises if Leandro Trossard finds himself involved heavily in Arsenal’s success at the weekend. Since making his Premier League debut for the club, no player has been involved in more goals for the Gunners (1G, 5A), while those five assists in his last four Premier League games are as many as he managed in his previous 64 Premier League appearances.
The Premier League title is still in Arsenal’s hands according to our season-long prediction model, with the Gunners given a 52.1% chance of clinching the crown ahead of Manchester City (47.8%). There are no worries about UEFA Champions League football next season, with a 100% chance of a top-four finish, even if things went REALLY south for Mikel Arteta’s side.
For Palace, we mentioned earlier the supercomputer is giving them just a 5.3% chance of being relegated, the best of any side in the bottom nine. Southampton (75.8%), Everton (50.7%) and Leeds United (45.2%) are currently staring into the abyss of the Championship and having to face the likes of Watford and Reading next season, although don’t count Bournemouth (44.8%) and Nottingham Forest (40.1%) out from making an immediate return to the second tier.