Howdy folks and welcome to another matchday. A matchday in which the possibility of winning 12 on the bounce is very real and yet at the same time I find myself exceedingly nervous that we could completely bugger up today’s game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

I don’t know what it is; perhaps it’s the fact that Palace haven’t scored at home this season, that they generally haven’t been great, that I watched them against Everton away last weekend, but whenever anything points in only one direction in terms of a result for Tje Arsenal, it invariably ends up with us getting a bloodied nose.

I remember watching Watford bear is at the Emirates only a couple of seasons ago. I was in the pub before pretty much dismissing who the Arsenal team were; in my mind we were winning this game whatever. Of course we went down 2-1 and it was just another one of those classic ‘Arsenaling’ games that we’ve been used to in recent years.

The 11 wins on the bounce should give us some confidence though. We’ve not played great for much of those 11 games but we’ve found a way to win and despite Paul Merson’s berating of us on Soccer Saturday yesterday, you can’t accuse a team that has won 11 on the bounce and come from behind in a few games of lacking heart.

Emery seems to have instilled a bit more steel about us this season and that can only serve us well (hopefully) in games like today. We will most certainly concede chances to Palace today and perhaps today is the day in which a team properly punishes is for those chances, but even if we go one or two down today, I’ll at least have a smidgen of hope that we can claw the deficit back. We should have got a result away to Chelski, for example, so if Palace get their noses in front then we should hopefully have the confidence to have a decent go back at them.

They do seem better defensively than offensively though and despite the fact they’ve conceded a few goals and haven’t been scoring many, I don’t think this will be the same as the car crash defence we faced against Fulham, because for one thing Roy Hodgson knows how to set up a back line.

So if Palace do go one up I’ll be expecting a resolute team desperate to defend deep and in numbers and hit us on the counter with the likes of Zaha and Townsend. Those are the two pacey wide men that you can just see right now will chase down random channel balls in behind our full backs – the left hand side of which scarily appears to be missing Monreal, Kolasinac and Maitland-Nile’s for today as they didn’t train yesterday, so we find ourselves a little bit exposed and on that defensive left hand side I do worry about the Swiss full back Lichsteiner.

He has a torrid time against Leicester and I’m not holding out too much hope of Palace target him with Zaha either. The problem we’ve also got is that the other option is Xhaka and whilst he coped well enough against Sporting on Thursday night, I can’t see either of him or Lichtsteiner having a fun lunchtime against Palace’s main danger man.

That’s why a covering centre half like Sokratis might be vital today and whilst Holding has been very good in deputising, I wouldn’t hold out too much hope against pace, so I’d be inclined to give the Greek centre half the nod, as well as Mustafi. We all know Shkodran has a rick in him but he’s also quicker than Holding and you never know, against a pacey could of wingers like Townsend and Zaha, that extra couple of seconds covering ground might be the difference today.

When it comes to midfield and attack I think it gets a little simpler. Based on the assumption that Xhaka is not playing at left back, we’ve got to have him and Torreira in midfield and whilst I’d be looking at someone like Özil in front of them centrally, I do still hope to see Iwobi for his width and Mkhi out wide right. I haven’t been wholly impressed with the Armenian at all times this season but at moments in the Fulham game he looked like he could unlock a back line and so I just wonder if him out wide works better with Lacazette up top.

Of course the other option – and a far more juicier one from my perspective – is that Auba and Laca start up top with Iwobi and Özil our wide with licence to drift. That feels more set to me and it’s one that if love to see us have a go at from the start. But Emery will most likely be cautious and so I reckon Auba starts from the bench.

But the good thing about Emery is that his starting teams have been thoroughly unpredictable to predict, which means Roy won’t know either, so we could see any number of combinations. That’s a good thing in terms of surprising the opposition but actually it’s sometimes, perhaps, contributed to the slightly confused start we’ve made to games. Maybe I’m just reading too much in to it, but there must be a reason why we’re starting slowly and it can’t just be a random quirk of fate each time.

It would be nice to see us start with a bit of zip about us this lunchtime. We’ve had so many games which have felt like an Arsenal team having to ‘feel’ it’s way into a game, that it would be nice to blitzkrieg a team and see out a second half with a little more ease.

This is The Arsenal though. We rarely do things the easy way and so I’m expecting a tough afternoon. That will inevitably result in me engaging in a lunchtime rum, and gin, and probably beer too.

Hopefully Arsenal minimise my nerves but for all of our sakes, let’s just hope that ultimately, they get the job done on South London today.

Up the Arsenal.