Crystal Palace are facing an injury crisis ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash against Arsenal.
The recent fortunes of Arsenal and Palace could not be more contrasting.
The Gunners are currently at the Premier League summit, some five points clear of their nearest challengers Manchester City.
Mikel Arteta’s side are just 11 games from claiming the club’s first league title since 2004’s Invincibles.
Meanwhile, Palace are in woeful form. While they have sat in 12th position for over two months, the Eagles are without a win this calendar year and are now just three points from the relegation places.
On Wednesday they fell to a 1-0 defeat against bitter rivals Brighton, the south coast side’s first win in the fixture since 2019.
Palace’s injury crisis
Next up for the Eagles is a tricky away trip to the Emirates, with an Arsenal win having the potential to spell the end of Patrick Vieira’s tenure in the Palace dugout.
And the south Londoners are facing a goalkeeping injury crisis for the encounter against the table toppers.
Against Brighton 19-year-old academy graduate, Joe Whitworth, made his Palace debut after first-choice Vicente Guaita suffered a hamstring injury in training, and back-up Sam Johnstone was sidelined with a calf issue.
Whitworth became the youngest goalkeeper to start a game in the Premier League since 2005, with his fellow 19-year-old academy product Owen Goodman named on the bench.
And Vieira admitted the club face a nervous wait to find out whether Guaita will be fit for the game against the Gunners.
“He had an injury after training on Tuesday and we need to wait 24-48 hours to see,” said Vieira when asked about the severity of the Spaniard’s injury.
While Whitworth was partly at fault for Brighton’s goal on Wednesday, the teenager, who is a lifelong Palace fan and former Selhurst Park ball boy, impressed with the ball at his feet and made a series of brilliant second-half saves.
Indeed, Vieira praised the youngster’s performance after the game. The Frenchman said: “It happened really quick but Joe has a really strong personality.
“He has the self-belief, the calmness that allowed him to perform the way he did. He showed a lot of good things and it is even more special because he is a young player who came through the academy.
“To play his first professional game in a derby is good for him. But we could not give him the win that would be a perfect evening for him.
“He has been with us training for the first team for a couple of months now. He understands the pressure and understands the game really well.
“He looked really calm, composed, made a lot of good decisions, and for a first game there were a lot of positives.”
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Topics: Football, Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Patrick Vieira, Mikel Arteta, Premier League