Premier League: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace - Preview

Last Updated: Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 10:43

London: Arsene Wenger hopes Arsenal`s early brush with adversity this season will help the Premier League leaders get back on track against managerless Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Wenger`s team suffered their first defeat in 13 matches in all competitions on Tuesday as Robert Lewandowski`s late goal gave Borussia Dortmund a 2-1 Champions League group stage win at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners, currently two points clear of second placed Chelsea, looked stunned after losing for the first time since Aston Villa`s surprise victory in north London on the opening day of the season.

But that setback against Villa sparked far more fan fury than the midweek defeat to Dortmund and Wenger is confident the experience has left players battle-hardened and more capable of recovering their equilibrium in time for the trip to Selhurst Park.

"We want to respond quickly. We have faced that already in our season," Wenger said.

"I am confident in that capacity of my team to respond very quickly in a very strong way. That is the target on Saturday."

Palace parted company with boss Ian Holloway in midweek following a 4-1 thrashing by Fulham that left the south London club second bottom of the table with seven defeats in their eight league matches, but Wenger won`t underestimate this weekend`s opponents.

"You don`t speculate too much on how they will respond. I think what is important in our job is that you focus to be at your best and that we respond in a strong way to our disappointment on Tuesday," Wenger added.

In the unlikely event that Arsenal do drop points at Palace, Jose Mourinho`s Chelsea could go top if they beat fourth placed Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The Blues romped to a 3-0 win at Schalke in the Champions League on Tuesday, with Spanish striker Fernando Torres scoring twice after being selected ahead of Samuel Eto`o.

Mourinho`s men are unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions and have scored 14 goals in their last four fixtures, but Torres believes there is still room for improvement for both him and his team.

"We`re building up. There`s many more good things to come," he said.

"Hopefully we can see the best Chelsea from now until the end of the season.

"Individually it is the same, the last few games I feel very sharp. I will continue to work hard because the important games are still to come."

City`s midweek Champions League win at CSKA Moscow was marred by racist abuse hurled at the club`s Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure by sections of the crowd in Russia.

UEFA have charged CSKA over their fans` behaviour and City will hope Toure, who was quick to condemn the supporters, can focus on helping his side at the Bridge.

"We won and we were good, so I am happy about that, but actually I am sad because the reaction of the fans was unbelievable," Toure said.

"I don`t understand in football why we have that. It is not in volleyball or rugby, just football."

Third placed Liverpool, two points behind the leaders, host West Bromwich Albion knowing a victory would keep them firmly in contention at the top before a crunch clash at Arsenal on November 2.

Manchester United have endured a troubled start to life under new manager David Moyes and they face Stoke at Old Trafford already eight points off top spot.

United have little margin for error if they want to mount a successful title defence and Stoke boss Mark Hughes added to the pressure on Moyes by claiming his former team look vulnerable.

"You have to be careful. There are only a certain amount of games you can lose," Hughes said.

"Five or six enables you to still be in the title race. Lose any more than six then you make it very difficult, nigh on impossible, for yourself.

"They have lost three and maybe they are a little bit vulnerable at the moment."
Fixtures

Saturday (1400GMT)

Aston Villa v Everton, Crystal Palace v Arsenal (1145GMT), Liverpool v West Brom, Manchester United v Stoke, Norwich v Cardiff, Southampton v Fulham (1630GMT)
Sunday (1500GMT unless stated)

Chelsea v Manchester City, Sunderland v Newcastle (1230GMT), Swansea v West Ham, Tottenham v Hull

AFP

First Published: Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 11:01

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