Sam Allardyce reckons the grumpy old days when he could not wait to bait Arsene Wenger have been consigned to history.
Not that Allardyce blames Wenger for that.
Instead, he reckons they are hampered by their success of qualifying every year for the Champions League and fighting all the way in every domestic competition.
Allardyce, whose side travel to the Emirates on Sunday, said: “With the squad he has assembled, they’re in that period now when, in the past, they have tended to falter.
“Sometimes after the New Year – whether through injuries or fatigue – they must put in a vast amount of physical and emotional effort to stay at the top of the league, only being able to afford to lose four or five games, or staying in the Champions League.
“Then there’s the FA Cup, the League Cup… you can see why a club can falter.
“He [Wenger] gets the blame when, most of the time, it’s not the manager’s fault. They have a huge season to go through year in, year out, and, with not having a break like everyone else, it hinders them.
“There is no question that Chelsea now have the best chance of winning the league this year, on the basis that they have no European football.
“When I was with Bolton, it was difficult coming back after we had played in Europe during the week. The players just couldn’t rise to the level that they normally did. And that’s what clubs like Arsenal put up with.
“Players come from the Euros and have travelled all over the world playing Premier League football, Champions League football, international football and barely get three weeks off.
“It will always take its toll and the hardest thing for a top club is to manage that.”
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Big Sam wrote in his autobiography that Wenger was the manager he most liked to beat – and there has certainly been no love lost between the two of them over the years.
But asked if that was still the case, he added: “Not really. That was the grumpy old days. The ‘I’ll get under your skin’ days. Even then, though, I always had the greatest respect for what he has done.”
Allardyce knows what needs to be done to get Palace out of the rut they were in under predecessor Alan Pardew.
He said: “They have to make a few mistakes and how do you get their confidence back? By not putting yourself under the sort of pressure when you make those mistakes.”