Crystal Palace have been rejuvenated under Roy Hodgson of late and the former England manager has dragged them off the bottom of the table and out of the drop zone. The Eagles are unbeaten in eight games, a run stretching back to early November, and are now just 1/6 with William Hill and Sky Bet to stay up. Palace were odds-on to go down when Hodgson took over, and they are now 4/1 on most football betting odds-boards and ahead of eight teams in the betting, illustrating what a fantastic job he has done. But the Eagles face a stern test on December 28 when Arsenal roll into town.
The Gunners are unbeaten in their last four league games but fans will take little comfort from that as their team have been poor of late. They lost to Man Utd at the start of December despite dominating possession and chances, and then were listless in drawing with Southampton and West Ham. A scrappy win over Newcastle was followed by a ridiculous 3-3 draw with Liverpool, which highlighted Arsenal’s defensive frailty once again. At the Premiership’s halfway stage, they are 21 points behind leaders Man City. They have taken just nine points from nine games on the road and that has cost them badly.
Arsenal have only won twice away all season and Palace are hard to beat of late, so Hodgson and his men should fancy their chances of getting a result in this one. The draw is 3/1 with Bet Victor, Betfred, Betway and others, and 31/10 with Black Type, and that looks interesting. Palace have forwards that will terrorise Arsenal’s weak defence. Wilfried Zaha in particular will relish the chance to run at the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Hector Bellerin, and Palace should score in this game. Arsenal have lacked invention going forwards of late, but Palace have conceded 15 goals in nine home games and the Gunners should score at least once in this game. 10Bet has 31/4 on a 1-1 draw and many bookmakers are offering 7/1, which looks good. Betfred and Sun Bets are offering 8/13 on both teams to score, and that looks like a great bet.
Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette have the quality to cut through a Palace defence that has already conceded 29 goals this season. But Arsenal concedes more than a goal per game on the road, so you would expect plenty of chances and plenty of goals on Thursday night. To get more value, you could push it to both teams to score and over 2.5 goals, which is 20/21 with Boyle Sports.
Arsenal now appear to be in a three-way battle with Tottenham and Liverpool for a Champions League spot. Man City have run away with the title, and Man Utd and Chelsea look good for the second and third spots. Liverpool are currently fourth, on 35 points, and Spurs and Arsenal are one point further back. All three have been horribly inconsistent this season, but all are still in with a chance of earning Champions League football for 2018/19. But the bookmakers make Arsenal the outsiders. Liverpool are best priced at 4/6 with Bet Victor, while Spurs are 11/8 with Betfred and various others and then Arsenal are 15/8 with Betfred. Liverpool have been sensational going forwards of late, but they too struggle defensively. Spurs have suffered from playing their home games at Wembley season. Both of those teams are still in the Champions League, which will distract them, and Arsenal could pull off a surprise by finishing fourth again. But they have to improve their away form and Selhurst Park is a tough place to start.