WHAT a difference a year makes. It was 12 months ago that Arsenal opened the new Premier League season with a chaotic defeat to new boys Brentfo
WHAT a difference a year makes.
It was 12 months ago that Arsenal opened the new Premier League season with a chaotic defeat to new boys Brentford – things feel a lot different now.
Striker Gabriel Jesus evades Crystal Palace midfielder Cheick Doucoure[/caption]
After a big spending summer and scintillating pre-season build-up Mikel Arteta had pledged to take his side to the next level.
Key to the step up are the arrivals of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City.
On this evidence, the plan may just work.
Jesus, signed for £45million from The Etihad, was at it from the off, charging forward and wriggling through red and blue shirts before seeing his effort blocked.
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The loose ball fell to Gabriel Martinelli, who fired wide of the far post when he really should have tucked it away.
Martinelli made up for that error with the opener, however, with Zinchenko playing a role.
The Ukrainian full-back, impressive and intelligent throughout, met Bukayo Saka’s deep corner and headed back across goal for Martinelli to convert a free header.
Arteta’s side dominated the opening half-an-hour or so but either side of the break things opened up with Palace creating chances for Odsonne Edouard and Eberechi Eze – both of which Aaron Ramsdale was equal to.
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Arsenal had to ride their luck at times but, as the Eagles tried to turn the screw late on the Gunners managed to hold them back – with William Saliba particularly impressive at the back on his long awaited debut.
As Palace ramped up the pressure, Arteta reacted by sending on Kieran Tierney to try and shore things up.
Within minutes Saka had shot up the other end to seal the victory and leave them top of the table on the opening night.
It could have been more bombastic and convincing, but Arteta will have seen plenty of encouragement in the opening half that his side could blow a few teams away this season while there was also a touch of steel at times.
The Spaniard will head back across London much happier than this time last year.
Gabriel Martinelli bagged the first goal of the Prem season on 47 minutes[/caption]