Is Arsenal's game vs Crystal Palace a 'must win' in title race?

  • Arsenal are in poor form and are five points behind leaders Liverpool
  • Is the clash against Crystal Palace now a must-win?

Arsenal v Liverpool - Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Arsenal v Liverpool - Emirates FA Cup Third Round / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Arsenal find themselves in the chasing pack for the Premier League title, and while we are still in January, is Mikel Arteta's team facing a must-win clash against Crystal Palace?

Arteta's Gunners are on a three-game losing streak in all competitions and are in desperate need of a circuit breaker.

Did that come in the form of a mini-trip to Dubai? Possibly, or will that circuit breaker come by putting away Crystal Palace and restoring some confidence?

Both could be true. But the fact is that Arsenal are in a worse position than they were last season, and they didn't win the title last time out.

Is Arsenal's game vs Crystal Palace a 'must win' in title race?

So, is this Palace game, in the context of the league season, a must-win for Arteta and Arsenal? ESPN's Mark Ogden thinks so.

"When Arsenal face Crystal Palace at the Emirates on Saturday, they will do so with their title hopes resting on a win against Roy Hodgson's team," Ogden writes. "It may only be mid-January, but the Gunners are already five points adrift of leaders Liverpool while champions Manchester City are three points clear of them in second spot. Having left themselves playing catch-up after taking just four points from their last five league games, anything but a win against Palace and Arsenal can forget about winning the title."

Looking at the league standings, it is hard to disagree with Ogden here.

If the Gunners don't fix their goalscoring woes and drop points against Palace, there is a fair chance that Jurgen Klopp's Reds move at least seven or eight points clear by the time the weekend draws to a close.

Could Arsenal reel that in?

Possibly, but it would be a herculean task considering Arsenal's shortcomings in front of goal. Then we enter a discussion of where the Gunners' prirority then lies.

The main focus won't be winning the league title, that focus will shift back to making the top four as in previous years.

With Arsenal financially hamstrung, there is little to no chance of a needle-moving signing in January and that could be the difference in the Gunners being in the title race and or not.

We are only 20 games into the league season, yet it already feels like gut-check time in north London and when that time comes this early, it is rarely a good thing.

Is this Palace a must win? It sure feels like it.