3 Key Battles That Could Decide Saturday's Clash Between Arsenal and Crystal Palace

Arsenal play host Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, as they look to bounce back into Champions League qualification contention.

The Gunners have endured a miserable start to the new year, and trail Chelsea by eight points in the race for fourth place.

They face a rejuvenated Palace side that have reaped the benefits of Roy Hodgson's appointment in September. The Eagles are flying high in 12th place, after turning around what had been a disastrous start to the Premier League season.

Below are the three key battles that could decide the fate of Saturday's encounter:

3. Jack Wilshere vs Luka Milivojevic

In the absence of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, Arsenal are lacking any renowned match winners.

Jack Wilshere's recent return form has been a major lift for the Gunners though, with the 26-year old enjoying a prolonged run in the starting XI. Wilshere looks to be regaining his sharpness, but still has a lot to prove in the eyes of many Arsenal fans.

He is likely to face a battle for midfield supremacy with Crystal Palace midfielder Luka Milivojevic. The Serbian has impressed for the Eagles in recent months, and is one of Roy Hodgson's most consistent performers.

Milivojevic could provide somewhat of a goal threat from midfield also, having scored a stunner at Southampton earlier in the season.

2. Hector Bellerin vs Wilfried Zaha

The most entertaining battle of the day is sure to see the tricky of Wilfried Zaha come up against the frightening pace of Hector Bellerin.

The Palace winger has dazzled many full-backs this season with his quick feet and trickery, but faces a stiff test against one of the quickest players in the league.

Bellerin has a reputation for his stamina, and is sure to be up and down the field supporting a swathe of attacks, while also keeping a close eye on the threat posed by Zaha.

The Ivorian is Palace's stand-out attacking threat, and will be used as chief playmaker when the Eagles push forward; something that Arsene Wenger is sure to factor into his pre-match planning.

1. Alexandre Lacazette vs Timothy Fosu-Mensah

Arsenal lack penetration up front without Alexis Sanchez, with the Gunners looking desperately at Alexandre Lacazette to start supplying the goals.

The Frenchman looked like he had settled into Premier League life nicely, with four goals in his first six starts.

However, now his confidence looks shot after a run of eight league games without a goal. The 26-year old will start in the absence of the injured Olivier Giroud, and will be feeling the heat from fans if he doesn't start well.

He could face-off against young Timothy Fosu-Mensah on Saturday. The on-loan Manchester United defender has put in some impressive performances recently, looking more assured and comfortable with each passing game.

The Dutch international is likely to be partnered alongside James Tomkins and Martin Kelly in a back three, as he attempts to thwart the Gunners' main goal threat.