I once asked a Rugby League coach what had happened to the team he had so much success with the season before, he replied that they had stopped believing his lies! It would of course be kinder to say he had been building their confidence and self-belief, but eventually I suppose if cracks start to appear, that will crumble too if it isn’t built on fact.
I recall this when I’m thinking about Crystal Palace, who have second-season-syndrome to contend with. Tony Pulis did a remarkable job turning the Eagles’ fortunes around last season, so can he continue it?
They scored the third fewest goals in the Premier League last season (the other two were relegated) so have they strengthened enough up front? Their only signing at this point is Frazier Campbell, but they do have Glenn Murray fit again.
Campbell scored six goals in 37 games last season and one in 12 in the campaign before that, they aren’t the stats to transform a club are they? Murray’s debut top flight season was ruined by a cruciate ligament injury, but he did play the first 14 games and only scored once, so the jury is out for me on his ability at the top level.
Palace also have Dwight Gayle and Marouane Chamakh, but again you couldn’t describe either as prolific.
The one thing you need going to Emirates is a lock tight defence or the ability to out-score the Gunners. Defence and organization is Palace’s strength, conceding just 25 in 19 away games last time out. However 14 of those came at the top seven clubs. They conceded three goals at Liverpool and two at Everton, Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal.
Now we turn to Arsenal, who looked fantastic against Manchester City in the Community Shield. The game is a glorified friendly and City were far from full strength, but confidence is oozing out of the Gunners at the moment. Buoyed by the signing of Alexis Sanchez, with a fit again Aaron Ramsey already scoring goals, I fear for Palace if Arsene Wenger’s men get off to a good start. A goal in the first half and it could be three or four.
It took them until the second half to open the scoring in a 2-0 win at the Emirates in February, but Palace were fighting for their lives then and I think this is a bad time to play Arsenal. The Eagles may have started to believe the hype and may not be as mean and determined as they were in that match earlier this year.
Soccer Betting Veredict
I’m going for Arsenal minus 1 on the handicap at 8/11, but I wouldn’t put anyone off going for minus 2 at 23/10. With goals in the air, Ramsey would be my value pick at 15/8. That looks a stand out price for someone who was scoring for fun at this point last season.
Soccer Free Picks
Correct score: 3-0
Anytime goal scorer: Aaron Ramsey
Favourite bet: Arsenal minus 1 goal