PREVIEW By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Petr Cech could make his return to the Arsenal starting X1 for Sunday’s Premier League clash against Crystal Palace.
The Gunners’ title hopes are virtually over in the wake of last weekend’s results, which left them a distant 13 points behind leaders Leicester.
Arsene Wenger’s side have a game in hand on the Premier League favourites but, with just six matches of their campaign remaining, it appears the best they can hope for is to clinch the top-three finish that will guarantee automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League.
Wenger has picked a settle team since Arsenal were eliminated from Europe but he could recall Petr Cech in goal in place of David Ospina.
Cech, who has been one of Arsenal’s outstanding performers this season, is in contention to make his comeback after being surprisingly overlooked for last Saturday’s 3-3 draw against West Ham despite being fully recovered from the calf injury that sidelined him for a month.
His deputy Ospina has performed capably in the absence of the Czech international but logic would suggest Wenger reinstates Cech for his first appearance since the Gunners’ 2-1 defeat to Swansea on 2 March.
Further up the field, Wenger is likely to stick with the bulk of the team that have performed impressively in recent Premier League matches.
Alex Iwobi is likely to make his fifth consecutive start on the flank, while Danny Welbeck should once again spearhead the attack.
Aaron Ramsey is fully fit after a thigh injury but he faces a battle to displace Mohamed Elneny, who is developing a promising partnership with Francis Coquelin in central midfield.
Cech; Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny, Coquelin; Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez; Welbeck.