Arsenal's Oliver Giroud, right, celebrates with Aaron Ramsey after scoring during the Champions League Group F soccer match between Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates Stadium in London Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013.
At Selhurst Park on Saturday, managerless Crystal Palace take on league leaders Arsenal (7:45 a.m. ET, watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra) as a second London derby arrives south of the River Thames this week.
The first London derby Palace faced this week, a 4-1 loss to Fulham, ended disastrously as Ian Holloway left the Eagles by mutual consent on Wednesday and Keith Millen will be in charge as caretaker boss when the Gunners visit.
Holloway’s departure didn’t surprise many, following seven defeats from their first eight games and Palace struggling to adapt to life back in the PL after a huge influx of new faces to the squad. Holloway cited the latter was the main issue, as the 14 new players he signed didn’t gel and he felt that the team spirit, which had lifted the Eagles out of the Championship last season, had vanished. Ex-Stoke City manager Tony Pulis is the favorite to replace Holloway, as the hot seat at Selhurst is unlikely to cool down for too long.
As for Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger is expecting a response after his side lost 2-1 to Dortmund in their UCL group stage match in midweek. Robert Lewandowski’s late strike punished the gun-ho Gunners who were looking to seal all three points, as they lost their first match in 12 games across all competitions.
In terms of injuries, Millen have a fully-fit squad to choose from as Palace aim to cause an upset, while Wenger expects Jack Wilshere to recover from an ankle knock and Mathieu Flamini is back in contention after concussion symptoms.
What they’re saying
Arsene Wenger on Ian Holloway’s departure: “I feel that it’s very harsh on Ian Holloway because he has done exceptionally well with Crystal Palace to get them up to the Premier League. It’s very difficult to do that and I find it very quick and very early to separate from Ian Holloway. For me, he has exceptional talent to manage a football team. He is a football man. He has something that belongs to him that he is special but you feel there is a strength in there that can take people on board with him. When you go through defeat after defeat when you want absolutely everything to win, it can drain you down. That can happen to everybody and when you are a bit older you can maybe deal with it a little bit better. But what is the killer in our job is to lose a succession of games and when you lose five, six or seven on the trot that is difficult to swallow.”
Ex-manager Ian Holloway on Palace’s future: “Now with me out the way, all this will stop and the new man will have a chance to start again. But I believe the club is in a fantastic position. I’m very proud of the work I’ve done here with Steve [Parish, co-Chairman]. If someone does want a chance at a Premier league club, a fresh start with a good group, they should really believe in this project, because it doesn’t need much.”
Arsenal win, all day long. Despite the kick up the backside losing a manager usually gives a team, Palace will be up against an Arsenal side who are also desperate to impress after they lost for the first time in 12 games in midweek. The Gunners possess a plethora of top class attacking talents, and if this game isn’t won by two of three goals in Arsenal’s favor I’d be very surprised. Sorry Palace fans, I’m afraid without a manager this dismal start to the season will only continue.