Build-a-bet: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace - expect drama on Patrick Vieira's return to the Emirates

Arsenal will be expecting to continue their recent fine form, but can an old friend be a thorn in their side?

Patrick Vieira returns to Arsenal for the first time as a manager on Monday in what is sure to be an emotionally charged reunion.

The Frenchman played a pivotal part in three of the club's Premier League title wins and also helped them lift the FA Cup four times.

He brings his Crystal Palace side to the Emirates in need of points to avoid being sucked down into a scrap at the bottom.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have found a fine vein of form after a slow start to the season and have picked up ten points from their last four matches.

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If they can continue that run they could put themselves firmly in the hunt for the Europa League places and maybe even start thinking about a challenge for the top four again - something that seemed unthinkable a few weeks ago.

Crystal Palace definitely have a feel of transition about them as they move from the uber-pragmatic and old-school Roy Hodgson to what they hope will be a more modern and expansive approach under Vieira.

The Eagles may be one of the teams worrying about Saudi-investment essentially buying Newcastle's way out of the relegation picture as unless they settle soon and start stringing some results together, they could very well be the team that fills that void at the bottom.

Arsenal to win first half

Trusting the form book can have its pitfalls in the Premier League, but this definitely doesn't look like one of those occasions.

The Gunners have really found some defensive steal of late with Son Heung-Min's late consolation in the North London derby the only goal they have conceded in their last five matches.

Mikel Arteta's men are on a run of three wins in a row at home in all competitions and they have certainly built up some very quietly impressive momentum.

In their victories over Spurs and Burnley in September they scored all their goals in the first half. The blew Spurs away in the opening 45 minutes.

Crystal Palace, meanwhile, are really struggling for wins. In fact, they have only managed one all season.

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If you look at their away form it's even more worrying. They have conceded nine goals in four matches in all competitions on their travels, with a 2-2 draw at West Ham the only one not to end in defeat.

There is some context to that in fairness. The Eagles have faced both Liverpool and Chelsea away, but it's a poor run regardless.

History is a little kinder to Palace than the form book as they are unbeaten in their last three Premier League visits to the Emirates.

However, Arsenal should start strong favourites and you have to fancy them to keep their fine current run alive in this one and do the damage early too.

Over 4.5 Crystal Palace corners

Although Palace are still finding their feet under Vieira, the basic strengths in their team have not changed.

They still have pace and trickery un front and on the flanks with the likes of Wilfried Zaha always likely to cause anyone trouble should they slide the ball into his feat.

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Arsenal, for all their defensive improvements of late, will always give teams a chance, particularly on the counterattack, and that should at least see Palace given plenty of opportunities to work the flanks.

That makes a high corner count likely, and a good comparison can be found from their recent loss at Liverpool, where they were thrashed 3-0 but still managed to earn five corners during the contest.

A red card to be shown

Vieira was famed for his fiery temper as a player and he could lose his discipline far easier than most.

In fact, no player in the competition's history was shown more red cards than Vieira. Only Duncan Ferguson and Richard Dunne could match his total of eight. That's more than the likes of Lee Cattermole and Roy Keane, for context.

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Perhaps conversely, Vieira's Crystal Palace side are close to the top of the fair play league this season, having collected just nine yellow cards in seven matches and no red cards at all.

However, the Premier League absolutely loves a story, and there is something that just feels right about Patrick Vieira taking a team to Arsenal and it descending into a thoroughly bad-tempered and emotionally-charged affair.

As ever in the Premier League, expect drama and narrative, and this one feels like it has both written all over it.

READ MORE: Liverpool and Sunderland among best picks in English league winners accumulator

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