Its finally here, the football season finally kicks off tonight as we face off against Crystal Palace. What seems like an age from when we last kicked off against Everton on the 22nd May the football is back.
The new shirts are now released; squad numbers have shuffled about, pre season games completed and of course pundits have written off Arsenal’s chances of a good season; we really are ready for the big kick off. Not quite sure why Arsenal is always the overwhelming popular choice for an opening day fixture on the big screen but here we are. Others can look on jealously as the Arsenal play their part in kick starting the new season.
Given the disappointment in how it all ended last season it is refreshing that the general feel about the club from viewing the interviews and footage of the players and squad, talking to other fans or scouring through various social media platforms is one of positivity and belief in the team and the manager.
If we were to circle back this time last year there was such a negative, acrimonious and toxic cloud that surrounded the club. Fans were arguing with each other over support for the manager, ownership was a hot topic as protests were set up outside the stadium in opposition of the Kroenkes, the team preparation and recruitment was unfinished and left us looking far from our optimum for a season start. Covid added the final nail in the coffin as it disrupted our squad and left us with key players missing in the opening games.
Anyway this season it all feels different. Pre-season on the whole was excellent, the results were all positive admittedly against teams at different stages of their own preparation for the coming season. On the whole the result although nice wasn’t the most important factor from these games. The players got minutes and built on their understanding with each other and enhanced their own physical developments and conditioning. We’ve made some shrewd signings and they have slotted straight into the team pretty much hitting the ground running. Of course its pre season and the football season is a totally different level of battle but it’s important that the new guys have integrated so quickly. It takes the pressure off a bit and hopefully the confidence remains sky high when we kick off at Selhurst Park. Gabriel Jesus and Zinchenko are likely to start tonight whilst Saliba will make his long awaited debut for the first team in the Premier League (those EFL Trophy games he played in were pretty much U23 games). It’s an exciting time and you’d be hard pushed to locate an Arsenal fan that isn’t looking forward to getting the season started and seeing what is in store for us in the months ahead.
Fabio Vieira is still to kick a ball for us and his impact could be a welcome surprise. The transfer window isn’t closed yet as we could well see a couple more additions to the squad whilst many also move on.
So as mentioned we take on Crystal Palace, 3 points are far from guaranteed as we have come to find them a bit of a bogey team over the years, we relied on an injury time equaliser from Lacazette to snatch a draw at home last season whilst the 3-0 defeat in the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park was a damaging blow to our top four hopes. WIlfried Zaha is a constant thorn in our sides and we certainly won’t be receiving any special favours from our former captain Patrick Vieira on the night. With the Arsenal team’s confidence sky high they will go into the fixture looking for 3 points but know it will not be an easy night. Crystal palace will take inspiration from their results against us and give us a tough battle; any points gained will be truly earned.
So let’s look at the Eagle’s preparation for the new season. They had a few mixed results, drawing with Accrington Stanley and beating Millwall before heading off on a tour of Singapore and Australia where they faced off against Liverpool in a 2-0 defeat followed by a 3-1 loss to Manchester united and then a 1-1 draw with Leeds. They closed out their pre season program with a comfortable 4-2 win over Montpellier, Zaha, Guehi and an Edouard brace contributing to a 4-0 lead. Former Gunner Stephy Mavididi scored the two consolation goals for Montpellier. Much like our preseason you can’t read too much into the results however it’s always good to sign off with a win.
Our line up for the game? I believe the team pretty much picks itself and with a few key players namely Tomiyasu and Tierney not yet ready to play we will be expected to start with the same line up used last week against Sevilla. Ben White will deputise at right back whilst William Saliba will have his first audition for a regular starting spot in the team when everybody is back fit.
I’m certainly excited for the season to start, my fantasy football team is picked and I’ve sent the fixture list to the Mrs so there is no confusion when I’m off to a match. Come on Arsenal! Let’s start the season right and beat Palace; it’s all or nothing now!
Enjoy your day people
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