Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
Crystal Palace V Arsenal
Sunday 16th August. 1:30PM. Sky Sports 1
Sunday’s Premier League offering serves up two phenomenal encounters and the action starts with an intriguing London derby at Selhurst Park.
Crystal Palace and Arsenal will both be bitterly determined to clinch the three points and we should expect 90 minutes of intense drama as the Eagles look to compound Arsene Wenger’s misery. Can the hosts cause an upset, or will the Gunners be firing on all cylinders?
Whatever happens, it should be an explosive encounter.
Can Cabaye Inspire Pardew’s Palace?
Alan Pardew worked wonders at Selhurst Park after returning to his former playing club midway through last season, and the Eagles continued that form into the start of 2015/16 with an impressive opening day win at Norwich. They’ll be eager to claim another three points in their first home match of the campaign, and you certainly wouldn’t rule them out completely.
The hosts have recruited well over the summer. Marquee signing Yohan Cabaye has been tipped to push Palace to the next level and the early signs were good after his opening day strike at Carrow Road. Meanwhile, the likes of Connor Wickham and Patrick Bamford have added strength and depth up front.
However, there are still some questions over Palace’s defence. After all, they did lose three of their final four home games last season and there still seems to be a few gaps to plug at the back. Judging by the summer singings, Pardew is placing emphasis on attack. It should serve them well over the course of a season, but it could haunt them if the Gunners are on top form.
Nevertheless, the hosts have every reason to be optimistic. With the energy of the crowd behind them, a strong start could spur them on to victory.
Pressure Already On Gunners
After the perfect pre-season, the real work started in disastrous fashion for the Gunners last week courtesy of that surprising defeat to West Ham United. Pressure is already on the visitors, and they cannot afford to lose further ground here.
Wenger’s men are a wounded animal, and their response could be crucial to setting the tone for the season as a whole. We saw mistakes, most notably from Petr Cech, that we shouldn’t see too many times this season. The visitors will be hoping that the West Ham loss was simply a bad day at the office.
Arsenal still boast quality players all over the field and the potential return of Alexis Sanchez to the starting XI will be a boost. Meanwhile, the likes of Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott will hope to cause problems against the sometimes vulnerable Palace defence.
Last week was hardly an ideal star. But if the Gunners perform here, they could get their campaign back up and running.
Crystal Palace V Arsenal Betting Tips
Despite last week’s shock defeat, Arsenal remain the bookies favourites and are priced 4/6 with Bet365. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace can be backed at 4/1 while the draw is available at 11/4.
Last season, the Gunners claimed 2-1 victories in both head-to-head matches. It will be another hard test for the visitors, but the motivation to bounce back from last week should help them to a crucial three points.
Dismissing the dead rubbers at the end of last season, it was a rare blank for the Gunners in their opening day encounter. However, they should be expected to find the target it in what’s set to be entertaining. At odds of 13/8, we think there’s huge value in them doing it in both halves.
Arsenal to score in both halves @ 13/8 with Bet365
We expect Arsenal to come out all guns blazing and that pressure could lead to a lot of set-pieces. With this in mind, we’re going for an outside bet on the first goalscorer market.
Defender Laurent Koscielny has scored at least two Premier League goals in each of his five years at the Emirates. We’re backing him to open his account for 2015/16 with the club’s first Premier League goal of the campaign.
Laurent Koscielny to score first @ 40/1 with Bet365