Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live coverage of the match in the Premier League between Arsenal
and Crystal Palace
. The Gunners have been struggling for form and are about to sell Alexis Sanchez
to Manchester United, while Palace have been in superb form under Roy Hodgson
. Let's see who makes the respective starting lineups...
Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny, Xhaka; Ozil, Wilshere, Iwobi; Lacazette
ARSENAL SUBSTITUTES: Ospina, Mertesacker, Kolasinac, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Nketiah
CRYSTAL PALACE XI:
Hennessey; Fosu-Mensah, Tomkins, Kelly, Van Aanholt; McCarthur, Cabaye, Milivojevic; Zaha, Sako, Benteke
CRYSTAL PALACE SUBSTITUTES: Speroni, Souare, Ward, Delaney, Riedewald, Lee, Townsend
Let's start by looking at the home team, with the most notable piece of team news being the return of Mesut Ozil
. The German international has missed a number of games with a slight knee injury, but he is able to take his place in the starting lineup this afternoon.
There are alterations in defence, too, with Laurent Koscielny
and Nacho Monreal
both in a position to return at the back. Arsenal have felt their absence in recent weeks. Rob Holding and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are the players to make way.
With Wenger switching to a back four, he was required to bring in another midfielder and that man is Mohamed Elneny. Aaron Ramsey had been expected to return after coming on against Bournemouth last weekend, but the Welshman is not in the 18-man squad.
With Sanchez not involved, Theo Walcott having left and Danny Welbeck out injured, it's a young-looking bench for the Gunners with Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah both offering the main options in attack. Sead Kolasinac could potentially be used further forward if Wenger wants to change things up.
As for Palace, the only change to the starting lineup sees Yohan Cabaye preferred to Jairo Riedewald, who drops down to the bench. Cabaye was once linked with a transfer to Arsenal, but that ship has probably sailed.
Cabaye is likely to be the most advanced of a midfield three and act as support to Wilfried Zaha
, Bakary Sako
and Christian Benteke. Palace haven't always offered a frequent goal threat this season but that quartet is more than capable of troubling this Arsenal defence.
The defence remains as it is having kept a clean sheet against Burnley last weekend. It means that Martin Kelly will be used in the centre with Timothy Fosu-Mensah staying out at right-back.
Hodgson is forced to name a number of defensive players on the bench due to injuries to Jason Puncheon and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, but the former England boss is at least able to call upon Andros Townsend, who had initially been expected to be on the sidelines for around a month. I suspect he may only be used this afternoon if absolutely necessary.
The full-time whistle has gone at the Amex Stadium and Chelsea have recorded a 4-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion. Antonio Conte's team did not have it all their own way against the Seagulls but for the first time in a while, the Blues were clinical in front of goal. Click here
to read our on-the-whistle report.
That results mean that Chelsea have returned to third place in the Premier League table, with the West Londoners now 11 points ahead of Arsenal. As for Brighton, they remain in 16th position but their goal difference has taken a hammering. Click here
to take a look at the updated standings.
Before we take a closer look at the two teams, a reminder that there are as many as six games taking place with a 3pm kickoff in the Premier League this afternoon. Teams in close proximity to Arsenal and Palace are in action so expect a number of updates from around the grounds as we progress through the day.
"We have to very quickly get over this transfer period because, for us especially, this period has been more disturbing than ever. We have such influential players close to the end of their contracts and it has been more destabilising than ever."
Those are the words of Wenger. It's as if no-one highlighted this issue during the summer, isn't it? Wenger's stance over contracts has not paid off, and he's right in acknowledging that all is not well at the Emirates Stadium. However, with Walcott gone, Sanchez almost gone and Wilshere and Ozil said to be close to signing new deals, maybe it will only be a matter of days or weeks before everything settles down.
Arsenal have played just five times since defeating Palace over Christmas, but the Gunners have not recorded a single win during that period. The Gunners have also failed to keep a clean sheet. Things have got to improve sooner rather than later, haven't they?
Over a longer spell in the league, Arsenal have been equally poor, with just two wins and 11 points coming from a possible 27. All in all, that's mid-table form and the longer that Wenger's side continue to drop points, they will find themselves under pressure to remain in sixth place from the likes of Burnley and Leicester City.
A positive for Wenger and his side is that they have not failed to score at home for 25 matches, a streak which has lasted 15 months. Back in October 2016, Middlesbrough managed to hold their hosts to a goalless draw. Click here
to read back on that game.
Summer signing Lacazette has eight goals and three assists to his name in the Premier League this season, but the French international has not scored in his last 664 minutes of action. His last effort was his tap in against Manchester United on December 2. It's fair to say that he would take any kind of goal this afternoon.
Lacazette benefitted from an assist from Ramsey on that occasion and the return of the Welshman would have been a huge plus for Arsenal this afternoon. It's not a coincidence that Wenger's side have produced poorer results in his absence. The midfielder has three goals and six assists from 16 top-flight outings. However, with Elneny in the team, Xhaka and Wilshere should be given more licence to go forward.
The fact is we're still in a relegation battle. We're not alone now, we're a little bit less isolated than we were some weeks and months ago and we're happy, of course, about that. But we're still in a bigger group of teams now who must be aware that unless they can keep their form going, unless they can keep points coming in, unless they can keep performances at the very highest level, they're going to be involved in a scrap to stay in the league right to the end."
Those are the words of Hodgson, who is able to head into the game without being overly concerned about the results of the teams in and around Palace. The club are still only five points above the relegation zone but given that the Eagles have previously been a couple of wins from safety, it's a new feeling ahead of their trip to North London.
Their current league position is due to a run which has only included one defeat in a dozen matches. That setback came against Arsenal. Since then though, Palace have registered wins over Southampton and Burnley to get back on track and they may feel that they have nothing to lose against the Gunners this afternoon.
It's been a hugely impressive run and if Palace can record at least a draw this afternoon, they will equal their record of going six top-tier matches on the road without suffering a defeat. We are pretty sure that Palace fans did not think that was possible at the start of September.
However, during his time at Palace, and at Fulham earlier in his career, Hodgson has never won a London derby away from home. His record stands at three draws and seven defeats.
Palace will miss the likes of Loftus-Cheek and Puncheon this afternoon but in Sako, they have a man in form. The winger - who has also been used as a number nine - has scored four goals in the space of five weeks - including strikes in his last two starts. It's taken a while but the Malian attacker is finally showing his true worth in an Eagles shirt.
PREDICTION! This match has a very different feel to how it did a month ago. Arsenal remains favourites despite the absence of Sanchez, but we are backing Palace to continue their recent performances in order to earn a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium.
HEAD TO HEAD! Today's fixture represents the 43th meeting between the two sides, with Arsenal registering 27 wins in comparison to just four victories for Palace.
Palace have emerged victorious on just one occasion in 16 attempts, with that triumph coming at Selhurst Park on April 10 last year. However, it has been 24 years since the Eagles won away at Arsenal, with John Salako scoring twice in a 2-1 win at Highbury in 1994.
The reverse fixture this season took place last month, and it marked Alexis Sanchez
's last goals for the Gunners. The forward netted twice in a 3-2 victory
and at that point, it kept Arsenal In the race for the top four. Things have changed since then...
The two teams are making their way out at the Emirates Stadium. A reminder of the team news...
ARSENAL XI: Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny, Xhaka; Ozil, Wilshere, Iwobi; Lacazette
CRYSTAL PALACE XI: Hennessey; Fosu-Mensah, Tomkins, Kelly, Van Aanholt; McCarthur, Cabaye, Milivojevic; Zaha, Sako, Benteke
KICKOFF! After a minutes' applause for Cyrille Regis, we are underway in North London.
It's been a relatively quiet start from both teams. That's not a huge surprise given that Arsenal are without creative players and Palace are playing at a big top-flight side.
Palace almost create the first opportunity through Van Aanholt, who whips in a terrific cross from the left flank. However, an Arsenal defender is able to flick the ball behind for a corner, which comes to nothing.
SHOT! Back come Arsenal and a patient build-up ends with an effort from Iwobi being tipped over the crossbar by Hennessey. It's a comfortable save.
GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Crystal Palace (Nacho Monreal)
What a start for Arsenal. They needed this! A corner from the right flank finds Monreal at the back post, and the left-back is able to convert from close range. It's poor defending from the visitors. That's Monreal's third goal of the season.
To Palace's credit, they went straight back onto the attack but their next move ended up with Arsenal gaining a goal kick.
GOAL! Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi)
Palace are all over the place at the back. They managed to half clear the ball from a couple of Arsenal attacks but back came the home side, with Monreal reaching the byline and setting up Iwobi for a simple finish from six yards.
Aside from conceding two goals, Palace have done ok. On more than one occasion, they have had Arsenal on the back foot at the back but it's irrelevant if they are going to look so poor in their own defensive third.
GOAL! Arsenal 3-0 Crystal Palace (Laurent Koscielny)
This is quite unbelievable. Another corner finds Monreal at the back post and the defender volleys the ball back across goal for Koscielny to bundle the ball over the line. Palace look absolutely hopeless at the back.
Palace are still having their moments going forward but if they continue to defend in this manner, it could be a cricket score. That's not an exaggeration. Hodgson looks absolutely furious on the touchline.
Things have at least quietened down a bit. Palace will be relieved. However, you can sense that the next Arsenal attack is just around the corner. This game is probably already over as a contest but Palace must do all they can to keep the score down.
Fosu-Mensah is having some joy down the right flank due to Iwobi failing to track his runs but so far, his end product has not been good enough.
GOAL! Arsenal 4-0 Crystal Palace (Alexandre Lacazette)
This is getting embarrassing. We are only a quarter of the way through the match! Arsenal string together pass after pass and the move ends with Ozil's flick sending the ball into the path of Lacazette, who finds the bottom corner from 16 yards. It's the forward's first goal in 686 minutes of football.
SHOT! Arsenal are sensing that this is the moment to improve their goal difference. They are relentless. Iwobi is the next man to get a shot on goal, but it's too close to Hennessey.
This probably goes without saying but Arsenal look so sharp in the final third. Palace's shoddiness is only making their hosts look better but still, the Gunners are still performing at a very high level.
SHOT! Sako takes it upon himself to try to get Palace back into this game but after holding off the attentions of a couple of Arsenal players, his low shot with his right foot is easily saved by Cech.
Palace are visibly looking to take the sting out of the game but it's too late for that. The first target is probably to reach the break without further damage. How have we only had half an hour of play?
More of the same from Palace, and Arsenal, too, are taking the opportunity for a breather. They don't look like they need it but there is little reason for the home side to plough forward at this stage.
SUBSTITUTION! Arsenal are being forced into a change, with Monreal being replaced by Maitland-Niles. The Spaniard's ankle problem has flared up again.
Palace manage to win their fourth corner of the match - it's not a bad return for a team who went 4-0 down after 22 minutes. However, the ball is over-hit and even though Zaha retrieves it, his attempt at a cross is even worse.
The Arsenal fans have already started with the oles. It's that kind of game now. The home side almost created a chance through a neat exchange between Wilshere and Ozil, but the ball went loose in the penalty area.
LATEST! We said that we could keep you up-to-date with matches elsewhere but we have been preoccupied with this game. Apologies. There have only been two goals elsewhere, with West Brom leading at Everton and Leicester just moving ahead against Watford.
Back to this game and the match is still not being played at the pace of the opening half hour. Palace are huffing and puffing but they are not coming close to getting back into this match.
SHOT! Just as I say that, Palace go on the attack through Zaha, and the winger's deflected effort is turned behind by Cech. Nothing came from the resulting corner.
SHOT! After a lengthy delay, Xhaka pings a free kick just over the crossbar from around 30 yards. There will be two minutes of added-on time.
HALF TIME: Arsenal 4-0 Crystal Palace
The half-time whistle goes at the Emirates Stadium and this game is already over as a contest. Arsenal netted four times in the opening 22 minutes and it's enough to give Wenger's side the chance to cruise through the remainder of this game. Palace have improved, but this is now a case of trying to retain some respectability.
The first goal came through Monreal, who was on hand to tap home at the back post from a corner, but the Spaniard also went and chipped in with two assists before having to be withdrawn with a recurrence of an ankle injury. It's been quite the afternoon for the left-back!
Monreal's assists for Iwobi and Koscielny gave his teammates what were effectively tap-ins but the fourth goal was full of quality, with a team move ending when Ozil flicked the ball into the path of Lacazette, who ended his 686-minute goal drought with a cool finish into the bottom corner from 16 yards out.
Palace have earned a number of corners at the Emirates and Cech has been required to save from both Sako and Zaha but all in all, this has been a desperately poor showing from the visitors. They certainly don't look like a team who had only lost one game in 12 ahead of this encounter.
The two teams have made their way back out for the second half, but there have been no changes for either side.
KICKOFF! We are back underway.
Hodgson appears to have ordered his side to go straight onto the offensive because already, Arsenal are being pushed back. However, a period of pressure ends with Cech collecting a cross from the left.
SHOT! Palace win a set piece in a threatening position and it leads to a shot on target from Kelly. However, despite a neat effort on the turn, it's an easy claim for Cech.
You have to give Palace credit for this start to the second half. They don't necessarily look like finding a goal but Arsenal have barely had the ball in the opposing half.
Finally a bit of success for Arsenal but Lacazette ends up being offside when he shouldn't be. It's been a really slow and sloppy start from Wenger's side.
CHANCE! It should be five. Iwobi is released down the left and decides to shoot, rather than square the ball to Lacazette who was waiting for the tap-in. Hennessey came out to make the block.
LATEST! There's been a goal at Turf Moor and Martial has given Manchester United the lead over Burnley. That should be seen as a positive for Arsenal, who were starting to look over their shoulders to the teams behind them.
CHANCE! The game is starting to open up a touch now. Palace still want a consolation goal, rather than trying to avoid conceding any more. A swift counter-attack ends with Benteke getting a shot away from inside the area, but his well-struck effort is too close to Cech.
We have still had no changes from either side. I'm a little surprised that Wenger has not decided to rest any players given the EFL Cup tie with Chelsea in midweek. I expect Lacazette and Ozil to be the first players to make way.
There's not much of an atmosphere inside the Emirates now but that's because the game is effectively over. I think the home supporters are sitting back and reminding themselves what it feels like to comfortably win a match.
LATEST! Palace fans will be interested to hear that Stoke City are currently two goals to the good against Huddersfield Town. It looks like Palace will not have a five-point gap above the relegation zone now.
We've had a break in play due to an injury to Wilshere but the midfielder is back on his feet and carrying on. He's been excellent again this afternoon.
With 20 minutes remaining, Wenger is finally about to make his first change of the second half. Nelson is being readied. Remember that Wenger only has two alterations left due to the injury to Monreal.
SHOT! The match is going through a quiet spell and Elneny decides to take it upon himself to try to score. However, his low strike towards the near post is well kept out by Hennessey.
SUBSTITUTION! As predicted, Ozil is being withdrawn. He doesn't look too happy, though. Nelson is on in his place and will play on the wing, rather than at wing-back where he has spent the majority of his outings this season.
Palace haven't really done much since that opportunity for Benteke. I wouldn't be surprised to see Arsenal net a fifth in these closing 15 minutes. They are dominating possession again now.
GOAL! Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace (Luka Milivojevic)
Is this the start of a famous comeback? Probably not, but Palace get the goal that they probably deserve. Arsenal were unable to clear from a set piece and the ball eventually fell to Milivojevic, who turned to volley the ball into the far corner from eight yards out.
Palace look rejuvenated after that goal. They are going to lose this match but they have at least showed what they are made of. This could have been a very different game had it not been for their catastrophic start.
SUBSTITUTION! Arsenal's final change sees Kolasinac replace Iwobi on the left flank.
Arsenal have reverted back to their possession game. Rather than pushing on for more goals, they are settling for a 4-1 win and no dramas during the closing stages of this game. It's a wise move.
Still the same from Arsenal but Palace are at least still trying to score a second. Hodgson will be fuming with the start to this game, but encouraged by how his team have responded.
We are going to have a break in play here with Cabaye having been down for a couple of minutes. He will be substituted very shortly.
SUBSTITUTION! Riedewald has been introduced for Cabaye, who has been stretchered off. It's unclear what Cabaye has done but he needed to be helped off.
There will be four minutes of added-on time.
Arsenal just had a shout for a penalty and it probably should have been given, but the referee says no.
FULL TIME: Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace
The full-time whistle goes at the Emirates Stadium and Arsenal have returned to winning ways in convincing style. They may not have added to the scoresheet after the 22nd minute but Wenger will not care. This was the Gunners at their ruthless best. Palace paid for the poor start but improved as the game progressed to at least keep spirits high at Selhurst Park.
That will be all from Sports Mole
for this match. Thank you for joining us this afternoon and we hope to see you again soon.
If you would like to read our on-the-whistle report, you can do so by clicking here. Goodbye for now.