Arsenal. In need of three points to maintain a fight with the top of the table. Crystal Palace. In need of three points to get a positive start for their new boss.
Whilst many of us see in the New Year with hopes of forgetting the past, there won’t be a single team playing on the day who need a win more than Palace.
The Eagles had an abysmal year under Alan Pardew and having recruited the experienced mind of Sam Allardyce, are hoping to shut up shop at the back and finding the net on more occasions.
But they’ll have to do it with limited options on their bench, with the relegation-fighting side troubled in the way of having different options when things aren’t going right.
Arsenal are welcoming the New Year in style however, with a selection of key names on offer to return to the bench following their inclusion in training this week.
Arsenal Team News
It’s great to have seen Danny Welbeck back in full training, and after taking his recovery slowly Wenger suggested he could be in contention to feature against Bournemouth.
The news gets better when you consider Shkodran Mustafi will be back in the squad when Palace visit the Emirates, a massive boost to get Arsenal’s season back on track.
Kieran Gibbs has suffered a slight inflammation in the knee meaning he’ll be out on the sidelines for at least another week, giving Monreal a clear run to up his game.
Meanwhile, Oxlade-Chamberlain will work tirelessly this week to make sure he’s back in the squad, but Wenger has options in Lucas, Alexis and Iwobi on the wings.
A surprise omission from the West Brom game, Theo Walcott will now miss a further two matches as he recovers from a calf problem sustained in training.
Arsenal Absentees: Welbeck (match fitness), Mertesacker (match fitness), Cazorla (ankle), Debuchy (hamstring), Walcott (calf), Gibbs (knee)
Predicted XI: Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud
Crystal Palace Team News
Allardyce may have a strong starting XI to work with, but things are going to be difficult if he needs to change the system at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon.
Damien Delaney will miss the trip across London after picking up a one match suspension following the 1-1 draw with Watford, meaning former Gunner Mathieu Flamini could start.
The big doubts are Joe Ledley and James McArthur, both are suffering a minor calf injury and will face late fitness tests in order to determine whether they can feature.
In defence, James Tomkins and Pape Souare will both sit this one out and aren’t expected to return until the end of January, so Scott Dann will stand as the most senior member at the back.
Connor Wickham, Bakary Sako and Loic Remy are missing in attack, meaning it’ll be up to former Arsenal target Christian Benteke to grab the goals on match-day yet again.
Palace Absentees: Delaney (suspended), Ledley (doubt), Mandanda (knee), Remy (calf), McArthur (doubt), Sako (thigh), Souare (thigh), Tomkins (knee), Wickham (knee), J. Benteke (knee)
Predicted XI: Hennessey, Kelly, Dann, Fryers, Ward, Flamini, Cabaye, Townsend, Puncheon, Zaha, Benteke
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