A Gabriel Martinelli header and a late Marc Guehi own goal ensured that we got our Premier League campaign off to the perfect start as we claimed a 2-0 win against Crystal Palace.

The Brazilian headed home on 19 minutes after a well-worked corner routine, but despite a solid opening 45 minutes, we were forced to absorb plenty of Palace pressure after the restart, and had Aaron Ramsdale to thank for keeping us in front who made a couple of excellent saves to deny Odsonne Edouard and Eberechi Eze.

However, our defence held firm and victory was sealed six minutes from time when Bukayo Saka’s cross was deflected home by Guehi to ensure Mikel Arteta registered his 50th top-flight victory.

Dominant first-half display

The opening 45 minutes was full of encouragement for our travelling supporters, as we took control of proceedings right from the kick-off. Just three minutes in, Gabriel Jesus nearly marked his official debut with a glorious goal when he collected the ball on the edge of the box, nutmegged a defender before dribbling around another, and after his goalbound shot was blocked by a desperate Guehi, Martinelli stroked the rebound wide of the far post.

Despite seeing that glorious early chance go begging, we continued to press and Oleksandr Zinchenko also came close to netting on his debut when Jesus and Granit Xhaka switched the ball from right to left, allowing the full-back a shooting opportunity but Vicente Guaita did well to save his deflected effort.

But the Ukrainian would play a significant role in the opening goal on 19 minutes, as we made our pressure pay. Saka floated a corner to the back post to an undetected Zinchenko, who headed the ball back across the area for Martinelli to nod past Guaita from close range and register the first goal of the Premier League season.

Rambo to the rescue

We continued to look comfortable throughout the remainder of the first half without creating many opportunities, but the same could be said for the hosts who took 41 minutes to carve out a single decent opportunity, but when they did Aaron Ramsdale had to be in top form to keep it out. 

In similar fashion to our opener, Eze’s free-kick was met by Joachim Andersen allowing Edouard a diving header, but our number one produced an instinctive stop to keep it out, and then just before the break, a combination of sliding blocks by William Saliba and Xhaka managed to prevent Eduoard from equalising.

However, the momentum continued to swing and five minutes following the restart, Ramsdale had to be at his best again when Wilfried Zaha slid in Eze one-on-one, but the shot-stopper stayed big and made a great block, and then on the hour mark an Eagles corner caused panic in our box and Gabriel’s sliced clearance required Ramsdale to keep it out.

Saka magic seals it

Our backs were against a wall for a period midway through the second half, and with the Selhurst crowd their normal boisterous selves Palace fancied their chances of grabbing at least a point, but on 84 minutes we grabbed the all-important second goal.

Having found himself in a similar position earlier in the half and screwed well wide, Saka again bolted down the right and took on Nathaniel Clyne, and this time saw his fierce cross clatter off Guehi and beat Guaita to secure victory at the first time of asking this campaign.


What’s next

We get our home campaign underway against Leicester City on Saturday, August 13, which is followed by a trip to newly-promoted Bournemouth a week later.

Tonight’s victory against Crystal Palace was a magnificent team performance as we began the new Premier League season with a well-deserved win, but who stood out as your Player of the Match?

Gabriel Martinelli may have got himself on the scoresheet to score the division’s first goal of the campaign, and Bukayo Saka’s brilliance helped deliver the second, but there were plenty of standout performers across our squad as the defence held firm at key times.

So who do you think deserves our Player of the Match award for tonight’s game against the Eagles? Let us know by voting below:

Having run the rule over the returning William Saliba this pre-season, Mikel Arteta believes that his impressive displays justify the reasoning to send him out on loan last season.

The Frenchman spent a third successive campaign on loan in Ligue 1 last term, following his stints with Saint Etienne and Nice with a year at Marseille, which saw him flourish over 50 appearances as he won the division’s Young Player of the Year and earned his first full international caps.

Since arriving back at London Colney, the 21-year-old has gone on to feature regularly for us during pre-season and has caught the eye of many – most importantly Arteta’s who feels that his development has now made him a viable option for selection.

Speaking ahead of the game against Crystal Palace, the boss said: “I am really happy with how he’s adapted. Obviously, it’s always something that you have to see, spending a year away from here in a completely different league. But playing the amount of minutes that he played and the way you could see he was growing and developing, he gave us a lot of reasons that he could be the player that we need.

“In the last few weeks, he’s given us every reason to believe that we made the right decision loaning him for a year, because he now looks ready to go.”

Arteta has indicated that when they landed the defender aged just 18 in July 2019, the plan was always to allow him to develop elsewhere initially so he could build up experience before being thrown into the Premier League.

When the opportunity came to send him to Marseille, who were competing not just at the top of Ligue 1 but also in the Europa League, he wanted to allow Saliba to take another step forward in his progression despite it again being away from Emirates Stadium, but Arteta feels we could now really reap the benefits.

“In our opinion – it’s not just my opinion – he needed that exposure,” he added. “You don’t see players at 18 or 19 years old playing at their highest level at top clubs; it just doesn’t happen.

“We, as a club, a few years ago made a big investment because we believed he could be a player who could make a significant impact in our team and we believe again that the best way to do it is to give him a pathway that we couldn’t give him here, especially because we didn’t have Europe so he wouldn’t play so many minutes or very few minutes. Now we have a very different context and hopefully that will prove that for him and for the club it was the right decision.”

With all that in mind, Arteta is delighted that Saliba’s season in the south of France was a success, and feels vindicated that the decision to send him out on loan rather than keep him at the club proved to be the best thing for the youngster.

Reflecting on what could have happened had he stayed with us last term, Arteta added: “We don’t know because maybe he would have picked up an injury, maybe he wouldn’t play and maybe we could have sent him on loan and it wouldn’t work. He could have picked up an injury like he did in the first loan that we had. That’s football – it’s so complicated.

“But we believed and he believed that it was the right thing to do and we worked together and that’s the most important thing. Now we are together again and the relationship continues.”

Newly-appointed captain Martin Odegaard believes we will use last season’s disappointment of missing out on the top four to our advantage, coming back ‘hungry and ready’ in 2022/23.

We kick off the new Premier League campaign away to Crystal Palace tonight, and the skipper is expecting to see a strong response from the new-look Gunners side.

Odegaard also spoke about his pride at taking the armband full time, how the new signings are settling in, the challenge posed by Palace in the opener, and how he tried to convince his compatriot Erling Haaland to join him at the Emirates.

On being named captain…

It sounds good and feels good. It’s obviously a big honour to captain such a big club. I feel very lucky and happy to do that. I think a lot of people were talking about it, but I didn’t really think about it too much myself. But then he [Arteta} asked me last week if I wanted to do it and of course I was happy to do it.

He just asked what I felt about it. He wanted me to be the captain, there was a little conversation there about it and that should be between me and him. He gave me some advice about it, it was a good chat.

On feeling pressure…

I don’t feel any special pressure with it. Obviously there’s a little bit more responsibility, but I think I will do a lot of the same things. I always try to do my best for the team. I’m not going to change too much just because it’s a permanent thing now.

I will do the same things and obviously when he wants me to be the captain I’ve done something right so keep going in that direction, maybe learn and grow a bit with time. But I have to do it my way and that’s what I will try to do. I enjoy the responsibility and hopefully, I can do it in a good way.

On the new arrivals settling in…

I think all of them have brought something good to the team. Some of them have been injured and not played too much, but obviously, Gabriel Jesus and Alex [Zinchenko] played the last game. Saliba has been playing a lot now too. They have all done really well.

Gabby and Alex, coming from Man City, are used to winning trophies and playing for the best teams in the world for a few years, they bring that experience and they know what it takes to win in this country. I think that’s a good thing for us to get players with that experience as well. Of course, the quality they have as well is tops, so they have been good.

On how important the winning mentality is in the dressing room…

I think it’s important, it’s always an area to improve for everyone, you can always be better in that way. As I said they have that experience and hopefully they can share with us what it takes to win in this country. That’s where we want to be as a team, to fight for trophies, titles, be at the top. That’s where the club should be so that’s where we want to get to.

On whether the top four is the target…

Yeah of course it’s a big thing for us. It was last year as well, and towards the end we had it in our hands and then we lost it. That was a hard one for us, everyone was really disappointed and frustrated with how we ended the season. I think you will see a hungry and ready Arsenal team to come back and do it this year. That’s where the club should be and that’s the goal.

On continuing the pre-season form…

I think the way we have played, especially in the last two games against Chelsea and Sevilla, we have looked really strong. The intensity we have played with, and the speed we play football is good. Obviously, it’s just pre-season, so we have to stay calm, keep working hard and now is when it really starts. We have to be ready for Friday. It’s a tough game, like all the games in this league, so we have to be ready.

On Crystal Palace’s strengths…

It’s always hard to say before the season, but when we played them last year they were really physical, played with a lot of intensity, and they have exciting players up front. With Zaha and the strikers, it’s a dangerous team so we have to be ready for that. The main thing for us is to focus on ourselves, play our game and be ready for the fight as well. That’s important.

On how much they will miss Connor Gallagher…

We will see, I haven’t watched them too much to be honest in the summer, but he’s a great player so every team will miss a player like him. We will see but I’m sure they will have a good team this year anyway.

On what the team took from the two meetings with Palace last season…

I think we learnt a lot. I think that’s what it’s like playing in the Premier League, every game is tough, every game is a little bit different and you have to be able to adapt to the game and be able to play football in different ways. You have to earn your right to play on the pitch and we are going to be ready for that.

On trying to convince Haaland to join us instead of Manchester City…

I was working [on it]! I sent him all the time Arsenal fans tagging me and him together in pictures so I sent them all the time, but it didn’t help! I’m happy for him, it’s nice to have him in England and I’m sure he will be a huge success for them.

I speak a lot with him. We are quite close friends and we have a little group chat with some of the guys from the national team, so we speak every now and then. I’m sure he doesn’t need too much advice. He’s a great player, a great person. His mind is in the right place, so I’m sure he will be fine.


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