Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger concedes his side must work on their defensive unity as they prepare to host Crystal Palace in the Premier League.
Wenger’s side go into Sunday’s meeting at Emirates Stadium on the back of a thrilling 3-3 draw at West Ham last weekend, in which they led 2-0 only to fall behind, before Laurent Koscielny rescued a point.
Andy Carroll’s hat-trick turned the game at Upton Park, the striker terrorising the Arsenal backline with his physical presence as the Gunners failed to cope.
And Wenger admits his team can ill-afford a repeat against a Palace side buoyed by a run of three games without defeat, which has banished any lingering fears of relegation.
“We try to work on that. Communication is very important, especially at the back,” Wenger said in his media conference on Friday.
“We need to rectify the fact we conceded three at West Ham. West Ham have beaten many big teams at home. We were not happy with the result but we showed resilience.
“It is a London derby and now they [Palace] should be completely safe. They are a good team with a lot of offensive potential. They have strong individuals like [Wilfried] Zaha, [Yannick] Bolasie, [Connor] Wickham and [Emmanuel] Adebayor.”
David Ospina has started in goal in Arsenal’s last four league outings, following a calf injury to the now fit-again Petr Cech, and Wenger would not confirm who he will start against Palace.
“I have not decided on the team,” he said. “Petr is our number one but Ospina is a fantastic goalkeeper. His numbers are exceptional in the Premier League and I felt Cech was just coming back.”
Despite a 13-point gap to leaders Leicester City, Wenger insists the title race is not over, although the Frenchman is still without the likes of Santi Cazorla (knee), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere (leg).
Palace, meanwhile, will be missing Dwight Gayle (gluteal) while Zaha is carrying a slight knock and manager Alan Pardew feels his side’s recent good run should give them confidence for Sunday’s clash.
“There’s a bit more of a bounce in our step since these recent results,” he said. “Our performances have been good since West Brom.
“They [Arsenal] have some new players which have shaken it up a bit and they’ve done very well. There’s a few unfamiliar names to our guys.
“We gave a good account of ourselves versus Arsenal at home [a 2-1 defeat], and we need to try to get something.”
Key Opta stats:
– Arsenal have won 10 and lost just one of their 13 Barclays Premier League games against Crystal Palace, including winning the last six in a row.
– Palace have taken fewer points in London derbies (4) than any of the clubs from the capital this season.
– Giroud has now gone 11 Premier League games without scoring, his longest drought without a goal in the competition (606 minutes in total).
– Former Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor has scored on two of his last three appearances as a visiting player at Emirates Stadium.
– Arsenal’s next victory in the Premier League will be their 500th – only Manchester United (582) have won more often in the competition.