Tuesday 20 March 2018

Chamakh set for Arsenal return

Marouane Chamakh has scored five goals for Palace this season
Marouane Chamakh has scored five goals for Palace this season

Marouane Chamakh is relishing a return to the Emirates Stadium as Crystal Palace look to continue their push to remain in the Barclays Premier League against Arsenal.

The Morocco international ended a disappointing three-year spell with the Gunners in the summer when he was brought in by then-Palace boss Ian Holloway as part of a recruitment drive aimed at keeping the Championship play-off winners in the top flight.

Chamakh has scored four goals since his arrival at Selhurst Park and has flourished in the deeper role he has been deployed in since Tony Pulis replaced Holloway at the helm.

Tuesday's 1-0 win over Hull means Palace now sit 14th in the table, four points clear of the bottom three and, with a trip to former side Arsenal to come on Sunday, Chamakh is starting to enjoy his football once again.

"I think I've got a lot more confident since coming to Palace because I've had a lot more experience playing matches," the 30-year-old told Palace's official website.

"The team as a whole is feeling confident too after Hull City and we are confident we'll be ready for the game against Arsenal."

Although a trip to face London rivals Arsenal will no doubt prove tricky - Chamakh is looking forward to taking on familiar faces.

"I'm very happy to be going back and playing at the Emirates again," he added.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the players, the manager and the fans. I have some very good memories from playing at Arsenal.

"I learnt a lot there on my initial arrival in England. I learned a lot about discipline, learning and understanding the English game and getting used to how to move and pass on the pitch as an attacker in this league. I've continued to learn a lot more since coming to Palace."

Pulis has overseen five league wins from his 10 games in charge as the former Stoke manager looks to become the first man to keep Palace in the Premier League beyond one season.

The Welshman has so far been unable to bring in any of his targets in the January transfer window but, while Chamakh is likely to feature at Arsenal, two other summer acquisitions have departed.

Full-back Jack Hunt, who has yet to play for the Eagles after breaking his ankle following his move from Huddersfield, has gone out on loan to Barnsley with winger Elliot Grandin leaving the club by mutual consent after just one Capital One Cup appearance.

Palace, meanwhile, are set to complete the permanent signing of on-loan winger Jason Puncheon from Southampton, Press Association Sport understands.

Despite signing a new deal at St Mary's until 2016 last March, the 27-year-old was allowed to join the newly-promoted Eagles on a season-long loan deal in the summer.

Puncheon has impressed for the south Londoners and is now ready to make the move permanent, with Saints understood to be just waiting for Palace to sign-off on the deal worth a reported £1.75million.

Press Association

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