Another London derby lies in store this weekend and although this one doesn't carry anything like the prestige of Arsenal's clash with Spurs earlier this month, the points are clearly the most important thing.
Arsenal have yet to finish a season outside the top four under manager Arsene Wenger, however Southampton, Liverpool and Tottenham are looking very dangerous at the moment and the possibility remains that the Gunners could miss out on the Champions League next season.
Indeed, Saturday’s opponents Crystal Palace have been in excellent form since the return of Alan Pardew with just one Premier League defeat and Arsenal will be full of trepidation heading to a Selhurst Park which is renowned for it’s intimidating atmosphere.
Nevertheless, the visitors cannot afford to drop any more points in their hunt for a top-four finish, especially against the ‘lesser’ sides. Indeed, with just five points separating third and seventh place in the top flight, this promises to be an exciting fight for a place in Europe’s premier club competition.
It must be said that Wenger has more experience than all of his rivals and this could prove crucial over the coming few weeks, especially since several key players are now returning from injury. Saying that, the defeat to Tottenham two weeks ago has seen doubts emerge amongst the Emirates faithful and a win is very much a necessity to restore confidence among both the squad and supporters.
Crystal Palace will have no such doubts. An FA Cup defeat to Liverpool last time out won’t have dented confidence one bit and Pardew’s target of a top-ten finish is looking increasingly achievable. Indeed, the reverse match earlier in the season saw Arsenal squeeze past the Eagles with a 2-1 win after Palace took the lead and Pardew will be confident of improving on this result this time around.
We share his confidence. Palace have clinched ten points from their five matches since Pardew took charge and despite the Gunners starting to score more freely of late, we’ll be expecting a hard fought battle for both sides. Ok so the visitors start the games as odds-on favourites, however they won’t have things their own way against a much improved Palace side and as such, we’ll be backing a draw with both teams scoring.
Our betting tips
Draw with both teams scoring – Ladbrokes 4/1
Over 2.5 Goals – William Hill Evens
All odds were correct at time of posting.