Arsenal suffered their first loss since the start of the season, in that tense Champions League clash against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. Their bouncebackability will be put to the test when they travel to Crystal Palace in the English Premier League on Saturday's early kickoff.
Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil celebrates after scoring against Norwich in the English Premier League, October 19
Arsene Wenger was not too aggrieved by the loss to Dortmund, even if the manner in which the winning goal was conceded was rather irritating. The performance levels fluctuated quite a bit during the game, and the Gunners were definitely put to the test by last year's runners-up, even if a draw might have been the fair result.
Wenger will know there is nothing much he can do to change that now, and all his concentration would have turned to the Premier League weekend. Arsenal, who have 19 points from eight matches, can go five points clear at the top with a win over Palace.
In a way the Gunners, on paper at least, have been handed the perfect bounce back-game. Palace are without a manager at the moment with Ian Holloway deciding to part ways with the London club following a difficult start which has seen them pick up just three points from eight matches.
"I feel that it's very harsh on Ian Holloway because he has done exceptionally well with Crystal Palace to get them up to the Premier League," Wenger said in support of his fellow manager. "It's very difficult to do that and I find it very quick and very early to separate from Ian Holloway. For me, he has exceptional talent to manage a football team.
"He is a football man. He has something that belongs to him that he is special but you feel there is a strength in there that can take people on board with him.
"When you go through defeat after defeat when you want absolutely everything to win, it can drain you down. That can happen to everybody and when you are a bit older you can maybe deal with it a little bit better. But what is the killer in our job is to lose a succession of games and when you lose five, six or seven on the trot that is difficult to swallow."
The next four fixtures for Arsenal are against Chelsea [in the Capital One Cup], Liverpool [Premier League], Borussia Dortmund [Champions League] and Manchester United [Premier League] and they really cannot afford to pick up anything less than three points at Selhurst Park on Saturday if they are to maintain that grip on the top of the table, and continue that flying start.
Team News: Holloway's assistant Keith Millen will remain in temporary charge and the caretaker manager has no fresh injury concerns with Glenn Murray, Jack Hunt and Jonathan Williams all long-term injury victims.
Mathieu Flamini returns for Arsenal after the midfielder was rested on doctor's advice. The Frenchman was sorely missed against Dortmund, and Wenger will be glad to have Arsenal's terrier back in the middle.
Jack Wikshere, who suffered an ankle knock against Dortmund will be assessed before the game. Wenger is likely to not take a risk on the England international, especially with all the big games coming up. Wenger might also consider giving the likes of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey a rest.
Theo Walcott, Abou Diaby, Yaya Sanogo, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski all remain sidelined.
Key men: Crystal Palace: Marouane Chamakh returns to his former club and the striker will want to prove a thing or two after being marginalized in the last couple of years at the club.
Arsenal: Santi Cazorla has been the victim of an injury for a big chunk of the season so far, and the Spanish international will be keen to find his mojo with a virtuoso performance against Palace. Of he does, then Palace will be in for a long and dreary afternoon.
Where to watch
The match is scheduled for a 5.15 p.m. IST start on Saturday with live coverage on Star Sports 2 and ESPN HD. You can also catch the game live online by clicking the official link HERE.
Expected lineups: Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Moxey; Jedinak, Dikgacoi, O'Keefe; Puncheon, Chamakh, Gayle.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal; Arteta, Flamini; Ramsey, Rosicky, Cazorla; Giroud.
Prediction: 4-0 to Arsenal
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