Mikel Arteta received rave reviews after his first win as Arsenal manager against Manchester United – but it could be difficult to follow up that Premier League victory at Crystal Palace.
Regular readers may know we tipped Arsenal to beat United, even though it went against form, and the reason was simple. Three matches into his reign, Arteta had to start making an impact – it was either that or it would start to look as though the Gunners had appointed the wrong man.
But suddenly, the Spaniard was being hailed as the natural successor to Pep Guardiola, under whom he had worked at Manchester City for the previous three-and-a-half years. His team won 2-0 and their performance was like chalk and cheese compared to many of the displays in a run of one win in 15 matches they had hitherto compiled.
On Monday, Arsenal were at home to Leeds in the FA Cup (result not known at the time of writing). That test will tell us more about their progress, but so will the short trip to Crystal Palace who generally keep things pretty tight at Selhurst Park.
Palace are one place and point above Arsenal in the table and the only teams to whom they have lost at home this term in the league are the top three – and Arteta’s side have yet to show they have the potential to reach the level of Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester.
The Eagles’ injury problems and Luka Milivojevic’s suspension are a concern for siding with them here, but Gary Cahill is back in defence and his return could be important in helping Palace ensure they gain a point that keeps Arsenal just behind them.