Arsenal prove point in raid at Palace
- Credit: PA
Arsenal kicked off the 2022-23 season with a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Friday night.
The Gunners got off to a flying start, knocking the ball around with a swagger to their play, spearheaded by the energy and trickery of debutant Gabriel Jesus up top, who terrorised the Palace defence early on.
Arsenal’s pressure was rewarded 20 minutes in when a corner routine saw Oleksandr Zinchencko nod back across goal to present Gabriel Martinelli with a free header from close range to give the Gunners a well-deserved lead.
However, after getting their noses in front, Arsenal worryingly went back into their shell and dropped deep, losing control of the ball and subsequently the game, relying on the excellence of William Saliba, Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale at the back.
The drop in intensity and control could have been nerves due to the circumstances of opening day, or fitness related, but there were similarities to last season’s nervy away performances, particularly when going a goal up.
Fortunately, Arsenal’s defence held strong long enough for the substitutes to get into the game as Eddie Nketiah found Bukayo Saka out wide and he drove into the box to force an own goal with a fierce cross across the six-yard box to make it 2-0.
In the end, it was a result of relief. Arsenal were excellent until the first goal but were by no means at their best for the final 70 minutes.
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But in terms of kicking off the season away from home in front of an electric, hostile crowd on a Friday night, we saw Arsenal crumble in such circumstances last season. This time round, the Gunners have come through the other side with a vital three points.
Saliba, in particular, put in an outstanding performance, winning man of the match honours and looking assured and commanding at the back, offering Arsenal a huge physical presence in difficult moments throughout the game. It was a hugely encouraging performance for the 21-year-old to build on.
Next up Arsenal welcome Leicester City for their first home game of the season and the fans will be in full voice to fuel the team on.