A New Dawn At Arsenal? Palace Awaits

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.

New season new kits

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.

Disrupted start last season

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.

Hit the ground running

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.

need to improve on last season’s results v Palace

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.

Line up from Sevilla expected

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

This post will also feature on Gunners Town site which I write for.

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Please Don’t burst Any Bubbles On Day One Arsenal

And so we have arrived at the dawn of a new season. The optimism has returned, the belief, the hope, the expectation; it’s all there in abundance. With a new season comes a reset of sorts, many fans instantly dismiss the roller coaster ride of the previous season and address the new one with a clean slate. The title is on despite finishing the last season 20/30…40 points behind the champions. A cup is obtainable this time, top four? Top 6? Upper half of table finish? Avoid relegation.

Ready for new season

We as football fans start the season with many bubbles which inevitably burst as the season progresses but it’s nice to be at that point until that reality kicks in. My club has every chance as much as the next team to win everything on offer until the first ball is kicked and the first round of games complete to calibrate some home truths.

You can’t blame Arsenal fans for feeling optimistic leading into this new season. Of course the league title is very far fetched but… but there’s a feel good factor that has returned to the fan base. A feel good factor helped in part by the rewarding end of season silverware earned and a promising charity shield victory over the reigning champions.

There’s been some shrewd transfer dealings too but with the window still open for a few more weeks yet there’s plenty that could change on the incomings and outgoings of the playing staff.

Our new Head Coach has won over many of the doubters that questioned his initial appointment. The new respect has been well earned and I’m sure that the same way the players are clearly buying in to his idea and philosophy the fans are mirroring that.

As Arsenal fans although many of us may seem demanding but in reality we just want the good football back. With the good football the rewards will follow, the DNA of the club had been siphoned out over the past few years and it’s about time we instilled some discipline and quality that many fans were raised on and always associated with Wenger Arsenal teams.   

The club I feel is on an upward trajectory however it will be a bumpy ride, plenty highs and lows but the important thing is to acknowledge we have the right man in the job and we stand by him through the good and the bad until we get back to where we belong.

So first up is an away trip to newly promoted Fulham, no offence Fulham fans but I really wanted Brentford to win that playoff final. Nothing personal but we’ve been there done that with Fulham, would have been nice to get a new entity in the mix. From what I recall there haven’t been a massive influx of major signings pouring in to Craven Cottage so it seems much reliance is on the team that won promotion (many who saw through relegation too). The keeper coming in Areola is a good acquisition but it seems a lot of hopes fall on Mitrovic and how impactful his anger management sessions over the season break have been.

On paper you wouldn’t be laughed at for expecting an Arsenal win however its opening day of the season, a promoted team with the motivation to prove they aren’t dropping straight back into the Championship and with no fans it’s still unclear who the advantage lies with anymore. 

With the news of the David Luiz injury it’s highly likely we will see one if not both of William Saliba and Gabriel in the starting line-up. I’d expect Arteta not to radicalise the back line instantly and sway to more familiarity at the back meaning Holding and possibly Tierney occupying centre back positions if we go with a back three leading to either Gabriel or Saliba joining them.

Will Saliba start today?

We may see Willian for the first time, it will be interesting to see some competition in those wide areas between Willian, Pepe, Saka and Aubamyang.  It’s actually quite difficult to predict what the line-up will be today but most importantly it’s exciting to get some football back again. We might not be able to go to games and a lot of opening day traditions will have to be put on pause but my God it’s great to have it back. A lot of questions may be answered such as will Ozil and  Guendouzi ever appear in a squad again, will Nketiah start up front ahead of Lacazette, will Ceballos slot straight back into starting eleven, will Arteta wear a tracksuit or slim fit designer clobber?

One thing I do hope is that many of those bubbles I alluded to earlier stay intact after this first game. Let’s start this season well and see where Arteta can take us.  Come on Arsenal!

P.S. As it’s a new season I’m sure many of you have been tearing your hair out deciding your final FPL squads,  hopefully you are now is a settled place and are ready to take on your respective leagues. Well, why not add another league to your bow and join mine. I’m looking to reward the winner with a prize. Come join up, take me on, it’ll be fun. Sign up with the link below or use the following code:

Good luck.

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