Arsenal host Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Thursday. Here is the predicted lineup.
Semblance of a plan and structure are starting to form at Arsenal, ever since the morale-boosting victory over Chelsea during the Christmas period.
All aspects of the team look improved, with the new personnel heavily contributing to more dynamic, faster approaches to matches, the like of which have produced four consecutive victories in all competitions.
The FA Cup win over Newcastle harked back to the level of performance we’d become accustomed to before Christmas, and it took until the interventions of an in-form trio to spark Arsenal into life.
When Emile Smith Rowe, among others, entered the fray, all the zip and movement that has been prevalent in the previous three matches returned to the fore. Interchangeability across the front line and energy in the pressing helped see the Gunners over the line.
As the side find form, the returns of Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey add to the excitement. The level of performance can still obviously be improved in certain facets, can these two provide that? More importantly, will they be included in the team to answer that question?
Here is your predicted lineup for Crystal Palace on Thursday.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Bernd Leno (GK) – Even if there are some names that fans are desperate to see play week in week out, nobody can argue that the first name on the team sheet is Bernd Leno. Not only due to him being so important to the side, but also because the other options are, well, hardly inspiring.
Hector Bellerin (RB) – There will be some calls to see Ainsley Maitland-Niles get the nod for his defensive discipline for the visit of the Eagles. Mikel Arteta‘s selections of late strongly point towards those desires being left unmet. Bellerin will come back in for his offensive qualities, among other aspects.
Rob Holding (CB) – Holdini has just put pen to paper on a new deal and will be brimming with confidence off the back of it. Performing admirably under pressure this season, he’ll have to channel some of that against Wilfried Zaha.
Gabriel Magalhaes (CB) – Revealed to be available for selection, the debate remains whether he should be eased back into action or thrust straight into it. Normally, Arteta would have preferred to ease him in, and with Pablo Mari in good form, that might’ve been the case here. However, Mari has played a lot of minutes lately and that should see the Brazilian return.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – Nobody wanted to see the Scot play the full 120 minutes against Newcastle, let alone 90, but it’s clear how vital he is to Arsenal’s play in both halves of the pitch. His engine is relentless and he’ll be itching to play, so he will.
Arteta knows his side are far weaker without Tierney, whatever the competition.