Three key battles in Crystal Palace v Arsenal

Tom Phillips examines three key battles between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on Sunday

Bolasie vs Debuchy

Eagles winger Yannick Bolasie has been in sensational form since Alan Pardew’s return to Selhurst Park. Bolasie has played a key part in what is so far, a success story, for Pardew and Crystal Palace. The former Newcastle boss has matched the most number of wins (11) in the Premier League by a Palace manager. Bolasie’s lightning pace and flair has been pivotal to Palace’s counter-attacking football and will flourish if Bolasie has the chance. Elsewhere, Mathieu Debuchy will be expected to limit any sort of influence from the Congolese winger. Debuchy’s ability to read the game is a fine example of his defending attributes for Arsenal along with his attacking instincts, too. His determination to press the attackers will put massive pressure on the Palace attack. If Bolasie has any chance to put in a performance he will have to be quick in his head as well as his feet against Debuchy.

Cabaye vs Ozil

Yohan Cabaye returned to work with Pardew after a brief spell at PSG. The French midfielder was the fans’s favourite at Newcastle under Pardew and has already made his mark at Palace with a goal against Norwich City. The French playmaker will be testing the likes of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny in how they can read the game with his pinpoint passing in the final third. Mesut Ozil will also be playing in a role similar to Cabaye. The German playmaker has a fantastic eye in creating chances and can bring some tricks to the game. Ozil created 70 chances last season for the Gunners and already created four chances in last week’s defeat by West Ham United. The role of playmaker will be crucial for both teams if they want all three points.

Giroud vs Delaney

Olivier Giroud proved in pre-season that he is the striker Arsenal desperately need and will be looking to underline that at Selhurst Park. The target man is known for his runs in the box and looking for deliveries in the penalty area from Ozil and Santi Cazorla. The French striker will be hoping to play a major part in set-pieces with his heading ability, with Palace only achieving three clean sheets in 19 Premier League games under Pardew. His strength and physical style of play will be a concern for the Palace defence. Damien Delaney, however, will be put up to the task of marking Giroud. The experienced centre-half is only an inch shorter than his French opponent and is also good in the air, too. The 34-year-old’s strong physique will also be a challenge for Giroud to contest come this weekend.

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