After a torrid start to the season where Mikel Arteta was without a number of first team players, Arsenal were clearly improving before the international break, most notably securing bragging rights in the North London derby with Tottenham.
They’ve now won four of five unbeaten games in all competitions, conceding just the single goal, and crucially, the balance to the side looks a lot better with Aubameyang restored to a central role and no square pegs in round holes.
Arteta has the luxury of a near fully fit squad, with Granit Xhaka the only major absentee and Gabriel Martinelli a doubt as well. He could opt for the same team that drew away at Brighton just prior to the international break, or alternatively break away from his usual 4-2-3-1 and add another attacking midfielder to the equation.
That would likely see summer signing Albert Lokonga switched out for wide man Pepe, with Emile Smith-Rowe moving into the middle alongside Martin Odegaard and Thomas Partey.
Palace are effectively in a transition season following the departure of the conservative-minded Roy Hodgson, with Patrick Vieira on a remit to promote younger players and deliver a more exciting brand of football.
He appears to be achieving that aim as there’s been at least three goals in all but two of their seven games so far.
Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher has excelled at driving the team forward and fellow summer arrival Odsonne Edouard has also made a positive start, reducing the burden on talisman Wilfried Zaha to carry the attack.
Over 2.5 Goals
There’s still work to be done at shoring up the defence, perhaps unsurprisingly with a completely new centre-back partnership of Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi.
Still, Palace’s only league defeats this term have come against genuine title contenders Chelsea and Liverpool, both by 3-0 scorelines, and beyond that they’ve drawn four of five games with the exception a standout win over Tottenham by the same scoreline.
Vieira will undoubtedly receive a warm welcome on his return to Arsenal, but it could be a long afternoon for the Eagles here.
Palace’s new pressing style would perhaps have been more effective against the Gunner last term, but the hosts are better equipped to play out from the back now with summer arrivals Ben White and Aaron Ramsey comfortable in their distribution.
The visitors also need to improve upon a poor record away from home, winning just three of their past 16 trips.
They’re W1-D2-L6 on their travels since March as the sole victory came over relegated Sheffield Utd, though the defeats were largely inflicted by the better clubs as they went down to Tottenham, Leicester, Southampton, Liverpool, (twice) and Chelsea.
Arsenal To Win 2-1 Or 3-1
Palace can take comfort from the fact they’ve lost just once in six encounters with Arsenal over the last three seasons.
Seven of the last nine head-to-heads have seen at least three goals, perhaps surprisingly given all but one of these came with Hodgson at the helm for the Eagles, though the trend looks set to continue given the manner of Palace’s performances under new management.
Nine of Arsenal’s past 12 wins at the Emirates have seen them concede, with four of these finishing 2-1 and a further three ending 3-1, and neither of those scorelines would come as a surprise here.
OVER 2.5 GOALS
ARSENAL TO WIN 2-1 OR 3-1