Arsenal justified the pre-season buzz about their potential enchancment with a deserved 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Two new signings and one long-awaited Premier League debut will solely add to the joy.
Arsenal’s summer time appears to have been an train in rising strain. A late-season slip that allowed their rivals to safe Champions League soccer forward of them was adopted by a documentary recording intimately how these occasions performed out.
Throw in switch spending in extra of £100m that seems to have addressed the primary weaknesses. Add some spectacular pre-season type that included thrashings of Chelsea and Sevilla. That concoction had Arsenal supporters hoping for a lot, way more.
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s win towards Crystal Palace within the Premier League
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On this proof, that optimism is vindicated. Arsenal began strongly, proving too fast and too slick for a Palace aspect made to look sluggish as compared. When the strain got here within the second half, they held on earlier than including a second aim. It was spectacular.
It has not at all times been that manner on events akin to this one. This is the second season in a row that the Gunners have kicked off their Premier League season beneath the Friday evening lights. Last 12 months, throughout the capital, they had been bullied and overwhelmed by Brentford.
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More lately, on Arsenal’s final journey to Selhurst Park in April, there was an much more emphatic defeat inflicted. That 3-0 loss to Palace was depressing. Mikel Arteta’s aspect spurned the possibility to maneuver as much as fourth place within the desk, away from Tottenham with a recreation in hand.
“It is time to accept the criticism, put your hand up and apologise because this performance was not good enough for this club,” mentioned Arteta on the time. Subsequent defeats to Brighton and Southampton additional curtailed the momentum. It proved pricey.
Seven of the beginning line-up for this recreation had been the identical but it surely is the identities of the brand new additions which have helped to vary the temper. William Saliba is lastly right here. Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus include apparent pedigree as Premier League champions.
“We come here full of optimism. The new signings have brought more energy, quality, leadership and knowing how to win football matches,” Aaron Ramsdale instructed Sky Sports beforehand. “We are all trying to get into the same mindset as them.”
Oleksandr Zinchenko took up some attention-grabbing positions on his Arsenal debut
Winning switch home windows and profitable matches will not be the identical factor, after all, however the signings from City and the returning Saliba all performed pivotal roles on this victory. It is already clear that they will help Arsenal to develop into a higher staff this time round.
Left-back was a downside place for Arsenal final season because of Kieran Tierney’s health issues. Nuno Tavares was unconvincing and often hapless, urgent Granit Xhaka into motion in an unfamiliar function. The arrival of Zinchenko modifications that.
Indeed, the Ukraine worldwide might change relatively extra about Arsenal’s build-up play on condition that he is no atypical left-back. His propensity to come back inside to regulate possession was a characteristic of his play at Manchester City and there have been indicators of that right here too.
“It is really interesting watching Zinchenko,” mentioned Jamie Carragher, masking the sport for Sky Sports at Selhurst Park. “He is picking up those positions inside that he did at Man City. Other times he is really high and wide. There is great mix in his play.”
It was Zinchenko’s positioning that led to the opening aim. Ben White’s choice to push ahead to the sting of the field for an attacking nook distracted Wilfried Zaha and purchased Zinchenko the house to move the ball on for Martinelli to attain from shut vary.
Jesus’ intelligent motion
Martinelli ought to have scored already by that time however that likelihood was all in regards to the brilliance of Jesus. The sequence of play within the fourth minute epitomised his recreation – profitable the ball again excessive up the pitch earlier than wriggling free to create the possibility.
Jesus was electrical and his motion off the ball appears to be like prone to make everybody round him higher. That willingness to make runs off the ball was missing from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette at occasions final season. Jesus is completely different.
“That is what he will bring to this team that they did not have last season,” mentioned Carragher. “He is so sharp. He looks like he has a point to prove. He is now the main man. Every time he gets the ball around the box he looks like something is going to happen.”
Saliba strong in defence
William Saliba regarded assured for Arsenal towards Crystal Palace
It nonetheless wanted some good defending for Arsenal to assert the factors and a lot of that got here from Saliba. Supporters had waited three years and three mortgage strikes to see him within the aspect and he didn’t disappoint with a commanding show in tough circumstances.
Ben White, pushed to right-back to accommodate the France worldwide, was struggling to include Zaha. But when White was overwhelmed, there was Saliba. His deal with contained in the penalty field early within the second half was expertly timed and completely important.
The distribution was easy however efficient. He had the most effective passing accuracy of anybody on the pitch. When the ball needed to be headed away, he was there. No Arsenal participant made as many clearances as he did. “He was very impressive,” mentioned Carragher.
“Even before you see him play, he looks like a player, he looks the part. You are just looking for signs of it and for such a young age, how he dealt with that second half, a couple of times helping out Ben White and balls into the box. He looked the real deal.”
He wanted to be good as a result of Palace didn’t make this simple, urgent exhausting for the equaliser earlier than Marc Guehi’s unlucky personal aim. Arsenal withstood all that. Yet one other encouraging signal. And so, Arteta’s phrases within the build-up to the sport proved prophetic.
“We are much closer right now,” he instructed Sky Sports. “We had to undo a lot of things and it takes some time to change the squad, the personnel, to change a lot of things around the club. To shake and move things and get everyone aligned with the same idea.
“To construct that unity and want to be collectively doing one thing particular has been extraordinarily tough however I feel we’re in the best place and everyone is enthusiastic about it.” This end result – and, particularly, these new additions – will do nothing to quell that pleasure.
Mikel Arteta displays on Arsenal’s 2-0 win towards Crystal Palace
Neville: ‘Saliba jogs my memory of Rio’
“The most important thing for young players generally is to play football,” Gary Neville instructed Sky Sports.
“We see a lot of players get stuck in between the first team and the reserves, and they don’t get football.
“Saliba has received soccer inside him and I used to be massively impressed by him.
“It jogged my memory of a young Rio Ferdinand. He’ll really get stronger, and his physique will develop into extra coordinated. He’s such a young centre-back nonetheless on the age of 21.
“Crystal Palace away, that is a tough away game in the Premier League because they do throw everything at you. The forward players at Palace challenge you one on one, they drive at you all the time and they never give you a moment’s peace.
“That is a huge evening for Saliba, making his debut with such a robust efficiency.
“The clean sheet, coming through that second half when maybe Arsenal weren’t at their best in that part of the game, was the most enjoyable thing for Mikel Arteta tonight.”
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Saliba: ‘I’m again’
“It was hard, but we are happy to win today,” Saliba instructed Sky Sports after his man-of-the-match show.
“We conceded some chances, but we were strong and solid.
“It’s the primary recreation. We knew it might be exhausting right here, so we stayed compact and robust, and that is good for the staff. It’s vital to win for confidence.”
After signing for Arsenal in 2019, Saliba was loaned again to Saint-Etienne and has since had two additional seasons in his native France, most lately spending final season with Marseille.
“I have waited a long time for this moment and I’m happy to start my first game with a win and a clean sheet.
“It helped me to spend two years on mortgage in France as a result of I’m young and I must play. Now I’m again and I hope we are able to have a good season.”
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