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Arsenal’s hunt for a top-four finish will undergo another test on Sunday when they play host to Crystal Palace in what will be their penultimate home game of the Premier League season.
The Gunners defeated Napoli 2-0 in their last outing at the Emirates Stadium, where they have won their last eight consecutive fixtures across all competitions. They will also be buoyed by having won their last two matches away from home, including the impressive 1-0 victory over Napoli in the second leg of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.
The Eagles were narrow 1-0 victors away to Newcastle United in their previous road game, but defeating Unai Emery’s men on their own soil won’t be as simple as besting relegation-threatened opposition.
Arsenal have both Chelsea and Manchester United—fifth and sixth, respectively—breathing down their necks and will be glad to get back to home comforts in the latest leg of their push for the top four.
Date: Sunday, April 21
Time: 4 p.m. BST/11 a.m. ET
Venue: Emirates Stadium, London
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra (U.S.)
TV Info: NBC Sports Gold (U.S.)
Crystal Palace: 11-2
Arsenal chief Emery will hope the recent 1-0 defeat at Everton is a thing of the past for his men, and recent results against Watford and Napoli in the aftermath suggest they’ve recovered somewhat.
The Spanish tactician has undergone periods of scrutiny during his maiden term at the Emirates—just as predecessor Arsene Wenger did before him—but the signs in north London are largely positive.
Arsenal drew 2-2 with Palace in their trip to Selhurst Park in October, but Emery has made improvements on the team’s fortunes and then some compared to the last campaign at least, per Squawka:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Unai Emery has now bettered Arsenal’s points tally from last campaign in his first season in charge:
2017/18: 38 games, 63 points
2018/19: 33 games, 66 points
Making it look hard. https://t.co/lHHHsOHMhm
Qualifying for next season’s UEFA Champions League is paramount to the club, and Palace have proved themselves capable of standing up to the big boys on their day in recent years.
It was in April 2017 that the Eagles beat Arsenal 3-0 at home, and they also managed to draw 1-1 at the Emirates one year prior to that.
The club has a shrewd manager in Roy Hodgson, and former Palace midfielder John Salako recently told Love Sport Radio the 71-year-old deserved to be kept on past this term:
Love Sport Radio @lovesportradio
🦅 ‘Keep Roy!’
@JohnSalako told @pmorts and @iandstone that Crystal Palace fans should be careful what they wish for and praised boss Roy Hodgson for being a safe pair of hands.
Thoughts #cpfc fans?
Palace were disappointed to fall 3-1 at home to title contenders Manchester City in their last outing, but the side haven’t lost back-to-back league games since January and will be eager to bounce back on Sunday.
Central defenders Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins are sidelined and likely to miss the Week 34 clash.
Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos will complete a two-match suspension against Palace and is unavailable, while Danny Welbeck, Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin are each long-term absentees.
That said, Bellerin recently provided a positive update in regards to him and Holding returning to fitness from their knee injuries:
Arsenal FC @Arsenal
“Guys, it’s a beautiful, sunny day in north London today – not because of the weather, but because my man Mr Rob Holding is having his first day back out on the pitch… come on fella!” 😊
@RobHolding95 x @HectorBellerin… it’s all love ❤️
🎥 hectorbellerin on @Instagram https://t.co/5nGQaYa02q
United and Chelsea sit ready to pounce on Arsenal should they falter in the remaining weeks of the league campaign, and securing the remainder of their home points is particularly pivotal to the top-four race.
Palace are on the cusp of reaching the 40-point mark but have considerably less to fight for and could struggle away to a motivated Arsenal team.
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