With another exciting Premier League upon us, Arsenal and Crystal Palace will face off in the season opener when they square off in a London derby clash at Selhurst Park on Friday evening.
Arsenal will come into this opening fixture off the back of a highly-successful pre-season in which they managed to comfortably secure five consecutive wins in their five pre-season friendly matches.
The Gunners began their pre-season tour with an entertaining 5-3 win over FC Nürnberg before claiming a 2-0 win over Premier League rivals Everton, a 3-1 win over American side Orlando City followed by clinching the Florida Cup after trashing London rivals Chelsea 4-0 in the final before running riot by securing a 6-0 victory against Sevilla in their final pre-season fixture.
Crystal Palace had a mixed run of results during their pre-season as they managed to claim three wins, one draw and one defeat in their only five fixtures during the off-season.
The Eagles’ pre-season got off to a rocky start after they started with a 3-1 defeat to fellow Premier League outfit Manchester United before bouncing back in the fixture that followed by edging out Gillingham 3-2. Palace failed to make it back-to-back wins after playing out to a 1-1 draw against Leeds United, however, they managed to return to winning ways in the final two matches of pre-season by first clinching a comfortable 3-0 win over Queens Park Rangers before capping the campaign off with a thrilling 4-2 win over French outfit Montpellier.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta says: “We tried to improve the team and recruit in order to get better and obviously there were some things that we didn’t have. We tried to get them when we bring people in or develop our players and that’s always the objective.
“We’re still hoping to do something else if the market allows us to do that. You’ve seen some movement in the other direction in the last few days so we want to get the perfect balance and the plan we wanted right at the beginning. Whether we can accomplish that or not is another story, but I’m happy with where we are now.”
Former Arsenal midfielder and club legend Patrick Vieira is in the opposition dugout. He says: “I loved the season. I loved it on and off the field. The satisfaction of course is seeing the evolution of the team and seeing the team performing with a clear idea about what we’re trying to achieve.
“It’s been a really good first season but the next one will be even more difficult. This is what I want us to focus on.
“I will not talk about finishing here or there, there’s no position in my head about where we want to finish. What I want again is for us to compete with our values every single day. We did it quite well last season. We won and we lost, but we always competed. I think now we must take that to a different level.”
When Palace and Arsenal met last campaign in the Premier League, the Eagles came out the better side in the two fixtures after they played to a thrilling 2-2 draw in the first leg at Emirates Stadium before claiming a comfortable 3-0 victory over the Gunners in the return leg at Selhurst Park.
Arteta could be without four key players for their opening fixture as Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Emile Smith Rowe, and Fabio Vieira are all doubtful for the match due to their respective injuries.
Palace boss Vieira will be without the services of veteran midfielder James McArthur, who continues to recover from a groin injury.
Gabriel Jesus has began his Arsenal career like a house on fire after he netted seven goals in his last five appearances. Jesus could well be the missing link in the Gunners’ attacking department after averaging a goal every 37.85 minutes during pre-season.
Luke Plange, the 19-year-old striker, had a stellar pre-season campaign with the Eagles and netted a hat-trick in Palace’s 4-3 victory over Ipswich Town, his three goals could set the tone for what is expected of the youngster this season.
Arsenal scored 14 goals in four matches at an average of 3.5 goals per match in pre-season. Duo Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka have managed to score 45% of their goals during pre-season, while Palace has netted 12 goals in their last five games in pre-season, with a total of 60% of their goals coming from the duo of Luke Plange and Wilfried Zaha. combining for seven goals.
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