Last week’s EPL fixtures produced some crazy results – none more wild than Arsenal’s match-up against Liverpool. You may recall we discussed the showdown thoroughly in this spot, accurately predicting a wild match with lots of goals and both teams to score. We’re on a bit of a run with both the NFL and soccer now, and will look to keep things going as we approach the New Year.
One thing is abundantly apparent about Arsenal right now – they just aren’t good enough. They have the talent, but there’s a general malaise plaguing the squad right now. It’s been too much of the same for too many consecutive seasons, and despite their skill and flair – they look poised to miss out on one of the league’s top-4 spots. And though the Gunners are undefeated in their past four contests, they look like a team that has lost its way in recent fixtures. They’re loose defensively and have managed only one win since the beginning of December. And it won’t be easy on Thursday night as they travel to the south edge of London to do battle with an upstart Crystal Palace side.
Roy Hodgson has turned around Palace’s fortunes entirely and this side now looks to be in zero danger of potential relegation. Their skill is finally shining through, and the only teams that have longer unbeaten runs than them are Manchester City and Liverpool. That’s some pretty solid company for a team that many had already written off about six weeks ago. This is yet another big test for Palace and their improved team, and it should be a raucous atmosphere at Selhurst Park as the pesky Eagles welcome the Gunners from the North. Read on below for a tactical preview and a betting prediction as we look to keep this hot streak going.
Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal Betting Odds:
Crystal Palace (+360)
Over 2.5 (-150)
Under 2.5 (+130)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal Pick:
The odds in this fixture would indicate these teams are at vastly different spectrums at the moment, and that just is not the case. Though Arsenal is a global club and they’ve got loads of money to spend – right now all of that high-priced talent just is not meshing and there seems to be some real discontent and animosity within the club. The talented striker Alexis Sanchez clearly does not want to play his best, and that attitude won’t serve them well as they prepare to enter the rowdy Selhurst Park for a nighttime clash against their rivals from the south.
Crystal Palace is playing great football at the moment. They can attack with anybody right now and the striking duo up front of WIlfried Zaha and Christian Benteke is finally playing like many pundits thought it could. Their blend of skill, pace, and strength has given defenders fits in recent weeks, and i’d expect Palace to look at this clash as one in which they can definitely get something out of. Points need to be the expectation for the Eagles as they seek a continued climb up the EPL table.
It also doesn’t help that the Gunners are still dealing with some key injuries that have really tested their depth in recent weeks. This is particularly troublesome over the holidays as many games are tightly packed together. Nacho Monreal, Aaron Ramsey, and Olivier Giroud are all still out which should hurt the Gunners going forward. Arsenal’s formation is still in flux as their backline looked to be in disarray last week against Liverpool. It wouldn’t be a shock to see manager Arsene Wenger go to four defenders and try to solidify that aspect against a solid attacking side in Palace.
One big factor for Palace should be getting Christian Benteke back in the fold. The big Belgian was fully rested against Swansea last week and should be raring to go for this contest. After a slow start, he has been getting back to the form many expected from him an that should cause fits for the Arsenal defense. The Gunners have been porous of late and likely have nobody that can handle Benteke – especially in the air.
This will be a trickier-than-expected game for Arsenal. The crowd in south London will be rocking – as it always tends to when a big club comes to their small, but mighty stadium. Palace’s improved form should keep the Gunners on their toes, and ultimately I see the Eagles getting something from this match. They are playing with a ton of spirit, and their pace and attacking flair in the midfield should surprise the Gunners and give that shoddy backline all kinds of difficulty. I like Palace on the spread +1 goal. At home, I believe this is an excellent wager, and allows us to profit of a Palace win, draw – and we’d push if they lost by just a goal. Seek it out at your respective sportsbooks, and let’s keep this hot streak going!
PICK = Crystal Palace +1 (-150)