Big Sam can be Wenger's nemesis again
Former foe Allardyce can set up his Palace side to frustrate Wenger's title-chasing Arsenal
What would you do if you suffered the ignominy of being ousted from the most prestigious job in your chosen profession amid a myriad of accusations and no little scandal?
Lie low for an extended period before emerging meekly from the shadows?
As you've seen this week, that's just not the Sam Allardyce way.
Just a few short months after his dream job swiftly turned into an embarrassing nightmare - washed down with several pints of wine - Big Sam is very much back.
And the new Crystal Palace boss is already making headlines.
During his first week behind his shiny new desk at Selhurst Park, Allardyce was linked with a whole host of players, from Kieran Gibbs to Jermain Defoe and several others in between.
He became embroiled in a public spat with a mascot and, apparently has been so incensed by Wilfried Zaha's decision to play for the Ivory Coast in next month's African Nations Cup that he's preparing to flog off his star player for £30 million (S$53.2m).
Oh yes, and he secured a rare away point for the Eagles in his first game in charge at Watford on Boxing Day.
Tomorrow, Allardyce locks horns with his old adversary, Arsene Wenger, as Palace visit title-chasing Arsenal.
In years gone by, especially during his route one Bolton Wanderers days, it's fair to say that the two managers weren't exactly kindred spirits.
In his autobiography, released last year, Allardyce said of Wenger: "He has an air of arrogance. He's not one for inviting you into his office for a drink after games."
However, the ice between the two men appeared to be thawing ahead of Arsenal's visit to the Stadium of Light in April, when Allardyce's Sunderland side were desperate for a result in their quest to survive the drop.
A 0-0 draw meant a precious point for the Black Cats.
"I got under his skin, but those were the early days," he admitted in his pre-match press conference, referring in particular to the period between 2003 and 2006 when the Gunners won only one of eight physical encounters against Bolton.
"Our meetings have been much more amicable since, on and off the field."
So amicable that in September, when the English Football Association axed Allardyce, Wenger was one of the few fellow managers to offer supportive words.
No doubt the pre-match handshake between the two men tomorrow will be reasonably warm then, as Allardyce looks to get the better of an Arsene Wenger team for the first time since May 2010.
Allardyce has taken on a sizeable task at Selhurst Park, but one that looks eminently more manageable than the shambles he inherited at Sunderland last season, when he worked wonders to somehow keep the Black Cats in the top division.
The likes of Zaha, Jason Puncheon, Christian Benteke (penalty-taking abilities aside), Yohan Cabaye and Andros Townsend offer real quality in attacking areas.
However, it's at the back where Palace have been struggling grimly, particularly on their travels.
Before Allardyce's appointment, they had conceded 10 times in their previous four away encounters.
Despite their woeful recent defensive record, and the fact that they are without suspended centre back Damien Delaney for the trip to the Emirates, Allardyce is no doubt capable of setting up his team to frustrate the Gunners - an outcome that may just reignite that old rivalry with his opposite number.
- Richard Lenton is the lead presenter at Eleven Sports Network. Join Richard and his studio guests for Eleven's live coverage of the Premier League, which includes tonight's clash between Manchester United and Middlesbrough (10.30pm), tomorrow's battles between Watford and Tottenham (9pm), and Arsenal and Palace (11.55pm), the Monday night showdown between Sunderland and Liverpool (10.30pm), and West Ham versus Manchester United on Tuesday morning (1.15am). For more details visit www.elevensports.sg
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