Mikel Arteta hailed Arsenal’s added resilience after his side beat Crystal Palace 2-0 to claim maximum points on the opening night of the Premier League.
Expectation and excitement levels have grown around the Emirates after an impressive pre-season and Arsenal delivered on the opening night with Gabriel Martinelli and a Marc Guehi own goal enough for the points.
Palace improved as the game wore on and Aaron Ramsdale was called upon to make two top saves whilst William Saliba impressed with his defending as the Gunners grabbed a clean sheet.
Arteta used the comparison of Arsenal’s opening day 2-0 defeat to Brentford last season to showcase how much more resilience he has in his squad now.
He said: “You don’t win here without it [resilience] and we experienced that last season. We started in a really different way to what we did last year. Building that mentality and finding a way to go through those moments and clean sheets in this league is going to be vital for our success and we have managed to do that. Hopefully that will breed some confidence in the team.”
Palace: Guaita (6), Clyne (7), Andersen (7), Guehi (6), Mitchell (6), Doucoure (6), Schlupp (6), Eze (5), Ayew (7), Zaha (7), Edouard (6)
Subs: Mateta (6), Milivojovic (6), Hughes (6)
Arsenal: Ramsdale (8), White (6), Saliba (8), Gabriel (8), Zinchenko (7), Partey (7), Xhaka (7), Saka (8), Odegaard (7), Martinelli (7), Jesus (8)
Subs: Tierney (7), Nketiah (6), Lokonga (6)
Man of the Match: William Saliba
How Gunners delivered on opening night…
Arsenal wasted no time in stamping their authority on the game, which quietened down the raucous home crowd. Martinelli blazed an early chance wide after some superb solo dribbling from Jesus, who looked like he had been playing in an Arsenal shirt all his life.
Much like last season, Arsenal decided to sit on a lead which allowed Palace to grow into the game. Ramsdale had to be alert to divert Odsonne Edouard’s close-range header away from goal from what was Palace’s first attempt on goal just before the break.
Ramsdale was called into action again on 52 minutes when denying Eberechi Eze on the angle after the former QPR man was found by a clever pass from Wilfried Zaha.
Palace had good flow and maintained their attacks in search of an equaliser but the greater threat came from the away side as Jesus’ persistent work off the ball almost led to Martin Odegaard – captain for the first time – fluffing his lines inside the box.
With Arsenal defending their box with great resolution, Saka grabbed the game by the scruff and made the game safe with some outstanding wing play. His cross was clumsily headed home by Guehi and allowed the Arsenal fans to relax for the remaining six minutes. They can certainly be excited for what could be on the cards this season as the club look to improve on their fifth-placed finish last term.
“We are top of the league,” sang the away end at full-time.
Man of the match: William Saliba
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher said:
“I thought he was really good. He didn’t have much to do in the first half, but there was one moment when a ball went in behind the Arsenal back four, in behind Ben White, and he just came across, running alongside someone.
“The way he dealt with it, with his long stride and his arm came across. He just looks the part.
“Even before you see him play, you see him run out for the warm up and you think he looks a good player.
“You are just looking for signs of it and at such a young age, how he dealt with that second half, a couple of times helping Ben White, balls into the box.
“Arsenal fans have been excited about this lad for a while. He’s gone on loan to three different teams in France, finishing with Marseille.
“You can argue if it was right to send him out but a 21-year-old playing centre-back in the Premier League, do you want to be doing that when you are 19 or 20? It’s not easy.
“However, he looked the real deal.”
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville said:
“Saliba has got football inside him and I was massively impressed by him.
“It reminded me of a young Rio Ferdinand. He’ll actually get stronger, and his body will become more coordinated. He’s such a young centre-back still at 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 big night for Saliba, making his debut with such a strong performance.”
Palace vs Arsenal FPL stats
|Goals||Martinelli, Guehi OG|
|Bonus points||Zinchenko (3pts), Saliba (2pts), Gabriel (1pt)|
Analysis: Is this a different Arsenal?
Sky Sports’ Lewis Jones:
How excited should Arsenal fans be getting right now? Has the introduction of the new recruits seriously taken them to the next level? Of course, only time will tell but this was an Arsenal performance in keeping with much of their tidy work of last season built around resolution and grit.
Arteta has them supremely well-organised without the ball and the base of their defence is one of the best around, led by Gabriel and backed up by Ramsdale when required. It was that base that led them to victory at Selhurst Park with the added zest and enthusiasm of Jesus in attack an obvious upgrade on what Alexandre Lacazette provided for the majority of his time in an Arsenal shirt.
It’s a lazy observation to define Arsenal as brittle these days. Many teams would have crumbled under the pace and threat provided by Palace, especially in the second half. However, Arteta has found a smart way of defending resolutely in key areas with the team cohesion at the back perfectly summed up by the performance of William Saliba, who slotted in very impressively to the defensive structure.
Arteta: Ramsdale won the game for us
Arsenal boss MIkel Arteta said: “I’m really pleased with winning, getting the three points and a clean sheet against a really difficult opponent in a tough place where they really got their people going. As we expected we were going to have tough periods during the match, but we showed great resilience to get through them.
“You need the right balance because if you come short in terms of physicality in this game, you’re going to be exposed. To have players at the back of the right size is really important in these kinds of matches. That’s the resilience we need to win football matches and see them through. Aaron Ramsdale did incredibly well from the one-on-one and won the game for us.”
Vieira: In this game, you get punished
Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira to Sky Sports: “We created two really good chances to score and we didn’t take them. In this game, you get punished really hard. Of course I’m disappointed because we could have scored, even if we didn’t create much.
“Football is about trying to score goals and we played against a good side. It’s really difficult to control the game against teams that have really good players. We had the ball, we had situations but we didn’t create very much. In the key moments, we didn’t score to lift the crowd and build momentum. That is something we have to work on.”
Opta stats: Arteta reaches half-century
- Arteta has won 50 league matches as Arsenal manager after 98 games in charge, making him the second-quickest manager to reach 50 top-flight wins for the Gunners after Arsène Wenger (94th game).
- Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka was shown a yellow card for the 53rd time in the Premier League, the joint-most of any player in the competition since he debuted in 2016-17, along with Oriol Romeu.
- Arsenal have scored 14 goals from corner situations in the Premier League since the start of last season, with only Manchester City and Liverpool scoring more goals in this manner (15 each).
Crystal Palace have a 10-day break now until their next fixture on Monday 15 August against Liverpool at Anfield, live on Sky Sports. Meanwhile, Arsenal play their first home game of the season next Saturday at 3pm when Leicester visit The Emirates.