Monday’s Premier League clash sees Arsenal traveling to south London to take on Crystal Palace.
Predicting a result in this clash is not easy. Palace have just two wins out of 33 versus the Gunners in the top division, but have won four of their last five. Arsenal have won only two out of their last seven league games, but have never lost a Premier League clash with Palace under Arsene Wenger’s guidance.
Both sides will be desperate for the points, for different reasons. Palace lie just three points above the relegation places, and manager Sam Allardyce will be keen to maintain his record of never taking a side down from the top flight. Arsenal, on the other hand, have slipped out of the Champions League places, putting in danger Wenger’s proud achievement of a continuous top four finish.
Michael Oliver, one of the country’s most highly regarded referees, has been appointed to officiate this game. Oliver is widely regarded as one of the more lenient officials, handing out 84 bookings (and two reds) in his 25 games this season. That’s around 3.3 yellows a game, compared with the overall average of 3.7.
Oliver may well let a few things go given how much is at stake, just clamping down on challenges which are cynical, reckless or come from a repeat offender.
Enter Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka. A player whose standard tackle is from the hard and unfair play book.
He is quoted at 12/5 to be booked at anytime during the game, but we will be taking the 11/1 that he is the first to invoke Oliver’s displeasure.
Recommendation: Xhaka to be booked first at 11/1, Paddy Power
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