Crystal Palace-Arsenal Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Arsenal will be looking to prove that they are still serious title challengers Sunday when they welcome Crystal Palace to the Emirates Stadium.

Arsene Wenger's Arsenal (16-4-3) were held to a 2-2 draw by Southampton in midweek to relinquish top spot in the Premier League to rampant Manchester City - who won 5-1 at Tottenham. Sunday's visit of Palace will be a chance for the Gunners to prove their quality ahead of a daunting run of games. In the next 11 Arsenal have to play Liverpool twice, Manchester United, reigning Champions League title holders Bayern Munich in a two-legged tie in the round of 16 in that tournament, Tottenham, Manchester City and Chelsea, but Wenger insists that his team are not out of title contention just yet.

"People are always tempted to go to definite conclusions after one game," said the Frenchman. "We have played 23 games, we are one point behind City. We are in the second part of the season and have 15 games to make a difference with them. I believe we have our chances.

"What is even more important is we are fully committed to take our chances with full belief. I'm convinced we can do it. We are still very, very close, but we want to respond quickly after having dropped two points. I'm confident the squad is ready for a fight. Let's start with that on Sunday against Palace."

Crystal Palace (7-2-14) have improved enormously under new manager Tony Pulis, and 10 points in their last six games have lifted the Londoners well out of the relegation zone. Former Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh has been a key figure in Palace's resurgence, and the forward suggested that - despite a number of run-ins in the past - Pulis isn't too different to the Arsenal boss.

"Arsene Wenger sees all matches as a chance to win," said Chamakh. "Pulis thinks the same thing, home or away. Even when we are playing the big teams, he has the same objective, which is to win matches. Managers work differently, but they all have the same objective of winning the game.

"I learnt a lot at Arsenal on my initial arrival in England. I learned a lot about discipline, learning and understanding the English game and getting used to how to move and pass on the pitch as an attacker in this league. I've continued to learn a lot more since coming to Palace."

Arsenal have injury doubts over Jack Wilshere (ankle) and Tomas Rosicky (broken nose), while Theo Walcott (knee), and Abou Diaby (knee) are out. Wenger revealed on Friday that Aaron Ramsey has suffered a setback with his hip injury, keeping him out until March. Palace have fitness concerns over Danny Gabbidon (knock), Jonathan Parr (concussion), Kagisho Dikgacoi (calf), Jerome Thomas (calf) and Glenn Murray (knee).

The Gunners ran out 2-0 winners in October when these teams met at Selhurst Park, with Mikel Arteta scoring from the spot at the start of the second half before being shown a red card 18 minutes later. Palace outshot Arsenal 13-10 in the match.

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