There is a massive difference between Arsenal and Palace in so many ways. Arsenal are a strange being.
For a club that has been at the top of English football for almost twenty years their supporters are amongst the most demanding, quickly turning on Wenger for the slightest blip. So the lack of trophies is annoying but it is surely not the cue for mass mutiny and shuffling Wenger down the gangplank fiddling with his coat zip. They also play some of the most attractive football in the country but still the Gooners moan.
Palace are a strange being as well but we are coming at this from the other end of the toffee apple. As supporters we are accustomed to disappointment and there is a fatalism that hangs heavily over our heads. Just as things are going well something usually comes along to trip us up.
Take Pulis’ sudden exit two days before the opening match of the season, which happened to be against Arsenal. It was hardly surprising we lost, as the players’ heads must have been spinning with doubt and concern.
This time round there is an ounce of stability as Pardew’s arrival has galvanised the listing ship that was careering into murky waters. But the new manager bounce effect seems to have worn off, with four straight victories followed by two defeats, a draw and a win. We are barely two months into Pardew’s reign and there are already murmurs and mutterings in the background.
Coming up against his old adversary, Super Al must prove that he does indeed have the necessary to make Palace a force to be reckoned with. He will be helped if both Jedinak and McArthur are fit to return as against Liverpool their absence left a gaping hole in midfield, which Henderson and Allen exploited.
Keeping Alexis Sanchez quiet will be a major objective as he has proved time and again to be the lynchpin for Arsenal this season. Worryingly, Giroud also looks as though he is running into form and when they have Cazorla pulling the strings they are formidable. By all rights we could be in for a hiding especially if Arsenal play with the composure they showed at the Etihad when they controlled and stifled Man City.
But the hope is that they have the same defensive frailty that they showed against a rumbustious Stoke and an energetic Tottenham recently. Having not beaten Arsenal at Selhurst since 1979, way before Wenger took over, there is a fair bit of history stacked up against us to keep our fatalism company.
Richard’s book The A-Z of Football Hates is available in bookshops and online
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