Arsenal, the champions of preseason, now have to build on their positive momentum and prove it in the Premier League.
Mikel Arteta’s team enjoyed a good season last year, narrowly missing out on Champions League qualification.
At points, they were the form team in the Premier League. It’s easy to forget Arsenal lost their first three games last season.
Their season opener against Crystal Palace perfectly mirrors their first game of last season. Away, up against another London club in the curtain raiser with all eyes on them.
Arsenal lost that season opener against Brentford due to being unprepared. If they hadn’t, they could well be in the Champions League this year.
As a result, Mikel Arteta will be acutely aware of the importance of a good start. In fairness to him, he has ensured his squad is in good shape this time around.
Arsenal’s transfer business and preseason performance suggests they mean business. Gabriel Jesus, Fabio Viera and Oleksandr Zinchenko have been added to a young team on the up.
All that progress will be put to the test against Crystal Palace, one of the most intimidating atmospheres in the league. Palace are fast, they’re strong, and they’re going through something of a renewal themselves under Patrick Viera.
Gone are the days of defending deep under Roy Hodgson – Viera has given youth a chance in an exciting system. The Gunners will want to prove a point on Friday night and show they are a team of substance.
Luckily in Jesus and Zinchenko, Arsenal have two quality players who have an individual point to prove. Bit part players at City, they have an opportunity to improve as players and raise the level of their new team.
We’ll see how likely that is to happen at Selhurst Park.