Arsenal lived as much as the pre-season hype of their potential enchancment with a deserved 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Two new signings and a long-awaited Premier League debut will solely add to the thrill.
Arsenal’s summer season appears to have been an train in rising stress. A late-season blunder that allowed their rivals to safe Champions League soccer forward of them was adopted by a documentary recording intimately how these occasions unfolded.
Switch spending in extra of £100m which seems to have addressed key weaknesses. Add to that a powerful pre-season run that included knocks of Chelsea and Sevilla. This invention left Arsenal followers hoping for a lot, way more.
On this proof, that optimism is justified. Arsenal began strongly, proving too fast and too skilful for a Palace facet made to look sluggish by comparability. When the stress got here within the second half, they held on earlier than including a second aim. It was spectacular.
This has not at all times been the case in instances resembling this. That is the second season in a row that the Gunners have began their Premier League season below the Friday evening lights. Final yr, throughout the capital, they had been bullied and crushed by Brentford.
Extra just lately, in Arsenal’s final journey to Selhurst Park in April, there was an much more pronounced defeat. That 3-0 loss to Palace was depressing. Mikel Arteta’s facet spurned the possibility to maneuver as much as fourth within the desk, a sport adrift of Tottenham.
“It is time to settle for the criticism, increase your hand and apologize as a result of this efficiency was not adequate for this membership,” Arteta stated on the time. Subsequent defeats to Brighton and Southampton additional curtailed the momentum. It turned out to be costly.
Seven of the beginning lineup for this sport had been the identical, however it’s the identities of the brand new additions which have helped change the temper. William Saliba is lastly right here. Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus include apparent pedigree as Premier League champions.
“We come right here stuffed with optimism. The brand new signings have introduced extra power, high quality, management and information of easy methods to win soccer video games,” stated Aaron Ramsdale. Sky Sports activities prematurely. “We’re all attempting to get into the identical mindset as them.”
Profitable switch home windows and successful video games usually are not the identical factor, after all, however the signings from Metropolis and the returning Saliba all performed key roles on this victory. It’s already clear that they will help Arsenal develop into a greater staff this time round.
Left-back was a problematic place for Arsenal final season as a consequence of Kieran Tierney’s health points. Nuno Tavares was unconvincing and sometimes unfortunate, pushing Granit Xhaka into motion in an unfamiliar function. The arrival of Zinchenko adjustments this.
Certainly, the Ukraine worldwide might change extra in relation to Arsenal’s build-up play given that he’s not a typical left-back. His penchant for getting inside to manage the ball was a function of his sport at Manchester Metropolis and there have been indicators of that right here too.
“It is actually attention-grabbing to look at Zinchenko,” stated Jamie Carragher, overlaying the match for Sky Sports activities at Selhurst Park. “He is getting these positions inside at Man Metropolis. Different instances he is actually excessive and huge. There’s a fantastic combine to his sport.”
It was Zinchenko’s positioning that led to the opening aim. Ben White’s choice to push ahead on the sting of the field for an attacking nook distracted Wilfried Zaha and acquired Zinchenko house to go the ball dwelling for Martinelli to faucet dwelling from shut vary.
Jesus’ intelligent transfer
Martinelli ought to have already scored by that time, however that probability was on the brilliance of Jesus. The sequence of play within the fourth minute epitomized his sport – successful the ball excessive up the pitch earlier than squirming free to create the possibility.
Jesus was electrical and his motion off the ball seems set to make everybody round him higher. Willingness to get off the ball was missing from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette at instances final season. Jesus is totally different.
“That is what he will convey to this staff that they did not have final season,” Carragher stated. “He is so sharp. He appears to have a degree to show. He is now the primary man. Each time he will get the ball across the field, it seems like one thing’s going to occur.”
Saliba stable in protection
It nonetheless took some good defending for Arsenal to get the factors and a whole lot of that got here from Saliba. Supporters had waited three years and three mortgage strikes to see him within the facet and he didn’t disappoint with a commanding efficiency in tough circumstances.
Ben White, pushed to right-back to accommodate the Frenchman, was struggling to comprise Zaha. However when White obtained beat, Saliba was there. His strike contained in the penalty space early within the second half was nicely timed and completely important.
The distribution was easy however efficient. He had one of the best passing accuracy of anybody on the sector. When the ball wanted to be headed away, he was there. No Arsenal participant made as many clearances as him. “He was very spectacular,” Carragher stated.
“Even earlier than you see him play, he seems the half, he seems the half. You are simply on the lookout for indicators of that and at such a younger age, how he coped in that second half, a number of instances serving to Ben White. and the balls within the field. He appeared actual.”
He needed to be good as a result of Palace did not make it straightforward, urgent arduous for an equalizer earlier than Marc Guehi’s unlucky personal aim. Arsenal coped with all of it. One other encouraging signal. And so, Arteta’s phrases within the build-up to the sport proved prophetic.
“We’re quite a bit nearer now,” he stated Sky Sports activities. “We have now to undo many issues and it takes a while to alter the staff, personnel, to alter many issues across the membership. To shake issues up and transfer issues round and get everybody aligned with the identical concept.
“Constructing that unity and desirous to be collectively doing one thing particular has been extraordinarily tough, however I believe we’re in the best place and everybody’s enthusiastic about it.” This consequence – and, specifically, these new additions – will do nothing to dampen that pleasure.
Neville: “Saliba jogs my memory of Rio”
“Crucial factor for younger gamers normally is to play soccer,” stated Gary Neville Sky Sports activities.
“We see a whole lot of gamers caught between the primary staff and the reserves, and they do not get soccer.
“Saliba has introduced soccer into him and I’ve been massively impressed by him.
“He jogged my memory of a younger Rio Ferdinand. He is really going to get stronger and his physique goes to get extra coordinated. He is such a younger centre-back nonetheless at 21.
“Crystal Palace away, it is a robust away sport within the Premier League as a result of they throw every little thing at you. The attacking gamers at Palace problem you one on one, they drive you on a regular basis and by no means allow you to down.
“It is a large evening for Saliba, debuting with such a robust efficiency.
“The clear sheet, within the second half, when perhaps Arsenal weren’t at their greatest in that a part of the sport, was essentially the most pleasing factor for Mikel Arteta tonight.”
Saliba: “I am again”
“It was tough, however we’re comfortable that we gained at present,” stated Saliba Sky Sports activities after his man of the match efficiency.
“We suffered a number of possibilities, however we had been robust and stable.
“It is the primary sport. We knew it was going to be robust right here, so we stayed compact and robust, and that is good for the staff. It is vital to win for confidence.”
After signing for Arsenal in 2019, Saliba was loaned again to Saint-Etienne and has since had two extra seasons in his native France, most just lately spending final season with Marseille.
“I have been ready quite a bit for this second and I am comfortable to begin my first sport with a win and a clear sheet.
“It helped me to spend two years on mortgage in France as a result of I am younger and I must play. Now I am again and hopefully we will have a great season.”