LONDON, England, October 25 – Jack Wilshere is convinced Arsenal will bounce back from their European disappointment when the Premier League leaders bid to cement their position at the top against managerless Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger’s team suffered their first defeat in 13 matches in all competitions on Tuesday as Robert Lewandowski’s late goal gave Borussia Dortmund a 2-1 Champions League group stage win at the Emirates Stadium.
But the Gunners, currently two points clear of second placed Chelsea, have a golden opportunity to erase the bitter memory of their first loss since the opening day of the season when they travel to face crisis club Palace at Selhurst Park.
Palace parted company with boss Ian Holloway in midweek following a 4-1 thrashing by Fulham that left the south London club second bottom of the table with seven defeats in their eight league matches.
Keith Millen will take charge on a caretaker basis this weekend, but England midfielder Wilshere, who hopes to recover from a recurring ankle injury in time to feature against the Eagles, warned Arsenal have no intention of showing any sympathy for Palace’s plight.
“We can’t let this result affect us now, especially in the Premier League where we are on a great run,” Wilshere said.
“It will be tough away at Palace, it always is, they will fight for every ball and it will be a different game from Dortmund, but we still have to bounce back straight away.”
In the unlikely event that Arsenal do drop points at Palace, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea could go top if they beat fourth placed Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The Blues romped to a 3-0 win at Schalke in the Champions League on Tuesday, with Spanish striker Fernando Torres scoring twice after being selected ahead of Samuel Eto’o.
Mourinho’s men are unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions and have scored 14 goals in their last four fixtures, but Torres believes there is still room for improvement for both him and his team.
“We’re building up. There’s many more good things to come,” he said.
“Hopefully we can see the best Chelsea from now until the end of the season.
“Individually it is the same, the last few games I feel very sharp. I will continue to work hard because the important games are still to come.”
City’s midweek Champions League win at CSKA Moscow was marred by racist abuse hurled at the club’s Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure by sections of the crowd in Russia.
UEFA have charged CSKA over their fans’ behaviour and City will hope Toure, who was quick to condemn the supporters, can focus on helping his side at the Bridge.
“We won and we were good, so I am happy about that, but actually I am sad because the reaction of the fans was unbelievable,” Toure said.
“I don’t understand in football why we have that. It is not in volleyball or rugby, just football.”
Third placed Liverpool, two points behind the leaders, host West Bromwich Albion knowing a victory would keep them firmly in contention at the top before a crunch clash at Arsenal on November 2.
Manchester United have endured a troubled start to life under new manager David Moyes and they face Stoke at Old Trafford already eight points off top spot.
United have little margin for error if they want to mount a successful title defence and Stoke boss Mark Hughes added to the pressure on Moyes by claiming his former team look vulnerable.
“You have to be careful. There are only a certain amount of games you can lose,” Hughes said.
“Five or six enables you to still be in the title race. Lose any more than six then you make it very difficult, nigh on impossible, for yourself.
“They have lost three and maybe they are a little bit vulnerable at the moment.”
Saturday (1400GMT unless stated)
Aston Villa v Everton, Crystal Palace v Arsenal (1145GMT), Liverpool v West Brom, Manchester United v Stoke, Norwich v Cardiff, Southampton v Fulham (1630GMT)
Sunday (1500GMT unless stated)
Chelsea v Manchester City, Sunderland v Newcastle (1230GMT), Swansea v West Ham, Tottenham v Hull