Issues, in descending order of importance:
1. A 52 might not clear your chainstay at a 42mm chainline, which is pretty much game over. 42 clears for almost any frame, since road double standard is 41mm for the inner. In between, you pretty much just have to try it and see what happens, I have a 48 that clears by like nanotubes, YMMV.
2. 42 lets you use 14t-16t cogs and get reasonable ratios, which are the common track sizes so they're easy to find. This used to be a much bigger issue when dura-ace was the cheapest good cog but they didn't come in over 16t. Now you can get rebadged surlys (rockwerks or something like that) for $20 and they come all the way up to I think 20t. For 52 most people would want a 19t or so, but if you want bigger than a 20 the options are still rather few, plus they cost a little more.
3. 42 is such a common road size you can get rings really cheap
4. All other things being fairly equal, more chain wrap/contact is better than less, so a bigger overall drivetrain can be good.