Saturday, February 1, 2014
How Arsenal Will Line Up Against Crystal Palace
How Arsenal Will Line Up Against Crystal Palace By Charlie Melman , Featured Columnist Feb 1, 2014 Arsenal are aiming to make up for their draw with Southampton against a Crystal Palace side they really should sweep aside. Palace have raised themselves out of the depths of the relegation muck recently, but are still just four points above 18th place. After failing to get past Southampton in midweek, Arsenal dropped out of first place and into second, behind new leaders Manchester City. This is Arsenal's last relatively easy fixture before a torturous run that sees them face Liverpool, Manchester United, Liverpool again, Bayern Munich, Sunderland, Stoke, Swansea, Bayern again, Tottenham, Chelsea and Everton in succession. So enjoy this sort of opposition while you can. This is one of the few games in that stretch when Arsenal can cover up their injury-hit squad and still put out a starting XI that is clearly superior to the opposition's. Arsene Wenger confirmed that Tomas Rosicky is back in the squad, but the Gunners are still missing several players, in addition to long-term absentees such as Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby. Jack Wilshere is not yet fit, Aaron Ramsey will be out for about six more weeks and Mathieu Flamini is suspended for this match and the next two. With all that said, let's take a look at how Arsenal might line up, with a few notes about the team. via lineupbuilder.com Though Wenger does not have many options at the back or in defensive midfield, he can now select Kim Kallstrom, who completed a loan move from Spartak Moscow on deadline day. But even though Mikel Arteta is still regaining full fitness, and his recent performances have been mediocre at best, the established Spaniard is still a better option than Kallstrom, who has not started since November. Wenger does have some more options up front, if fewer than normal. Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Lukas Podolski could start on the left, but that would mean pushing Santi Cazorla to the right since Mesut Ozil will almost certainly occupy the central attacking midfield role. While Cazorla would probably do somewhat well on the opposite side of the pitch, since he could just as easily cut inside on his "weak" left foot, he has almost never played there for Arsenal. Playing Serge Gnabry on the right wing, where he has excelled recently, would give Arsenal width and a more aggressive facet. Wenger can afford to do this by slotting Tomas Rosicky into central midfield. Again, he could include Cazorla, Podolski and Gnabry by putting the former into a deeper, more central role, but he is not suited to playing there and has not with Arsenal. Regardless of what Wenger decides, Arsenal should really take care of Crystal Palace relatively easily. The key is rotating as much as possible ahead of the most difficult period of the season.