Monday 18 December 2017

Jedinak could return for Palace

Mile Jedinak is back for Palace against Arsenal
Mile Jedinak is back for Palace against Arsenal

Crystal Palace could welcome back captain Mile Jedinak for Saturday's Premier League visit of Arsenal.

The midfielder picked up an ankle injury whilst helping Australia to Asia Cup success and is in line for his first Eagles appearance under Alan Pardew - as is Shola Ameobi who is now up to match fitness after joining in January.

James McArthur (thigh) could also be involved with Jonny Williams (groin) likely to miss out along with Yaya Sanogo, who is on loan from Arsenal and is therefore ineligible,

Pardew does not believe there will be any needle between him and Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, who have plenty of history.

"There's a man who has been a Premier League for I don't' know how many years, probably two more than he would care to remember," the Palace boss said.

"He is a winner and so am I, so when we clash we're going to clash. We both want to win and that's it. It ends there. We are professional football managers and we want to win. It will be the same on Saturday.

"The key to beating Arsenal is to be impatient at times, having enough attacking threat, controlling some of the game.

"They are in great form, the last five games they have won two more points than us.

"We're in decent form, it's at our place and we need to improve our home form. The focus at this ground is just about getting our fans in a great place.

Arsenal manager Wenger has welcomed the return of England midfielder Jack Wilshere from three months out with an ankle injury, but warned the "balance of the team" must always come first.

The 23-year-old has not played since needing an operation after hobbling off in the defeat to Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on November 22.

Wilshere, though, has come through his rehabilitation quicker than expected, and is expected to be involved again on Saturday afternoon.

Wenger has praised the way the player has dedicated himself to a speedy recovery, during which he made some unwanted headlines off the pitch after being photographed holding a shisha pipe at a nightclub.

It was not so long ago the dynamic midfielder would have been a certain starter in the Arsenal XI.

However, with the likes of Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez all in impressive form as Francis Coquelin shields the defence, Wenger accepts there can be no guarantees of selection for anyone.

"Jack is a bit ahead of schedule and has worked hard with no big problems, so it's good to have him back," said Wenger.

"It is always difficult to come back straightaway. What is good is that [he is] already back (earlier than expected).

"That injury was on the left ankle. He had all his problems on the right ankle.

"It is a straightforward injury - once it's healed, there's no problem."

Wenger, though, added: "No matter who plays, you always worry first about the balance of the team, yes."

The Arsenal manager hopes Wilshere can put the negative headlines behind him.

"I don't know how everybody is but I think every professional footballer has to control his life and dedicate it to the game," Wenger said.

Arsenal can expect a stern test of their top-four credentials at Selhurst Park against a side which is now well organised and hard to break down under new manager Pardew.

Wenger said: "They have found confidence again and they made positive results and that is what it is about when you are a manager.

"We always expect a passionate afternoon there."

Press Association

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