Gabriel Martinelli scores in slick opening period for Arsenal
Home side pushed for equaliser with Ramsdale saving from Edouard and Eze
Arteta’s team banish memories of Brentord to start with three points
The Premier League is back and with this fiercely fought and ultimately impressive win Arsenal will believe they are also. Having been dealt the fiendish task of a London derby, under the Friday night lights, away from home for the second season in a row to kick off the new campaign they stood tall against Crystal Palace just as they had wilted against Brentford.
The world was watching in anticipation of another pratfall because the broadcasters only selected this fixture in the hope of a repeat of the raucous embarrassment Arsenal suffered to kick off the last campaign and although Palace will argue that they deserved a point it is Arsenal who have given themselves a solid launchpad.
A 2-0 defeat on August 13 2021 became a 2-0 win on August 5 2022 and the mood was hugely different in a season that feels it is ‘all or nothing’ for them – and not just because of the Amazon documentary.
Having lost here 3-0 only last April it was also a significant improvement on that performance and another piece of evidence for Mikel Arteta to forward his argument that his team is ready to go to another level. Still having spent £115million this summer to add to last year’s vast outlay he needed this beginning and there is suddenly strength and depth to the squad with Kieran Tierney, for example, coming on as a late substitute.
For Arteta there was also a small personal milestone as he registered his 50th top-flight win as Arsenal manager, in 98 games, and actually only Arsene Wenger has reached that total in fewer games (94). The gleeful Arsenal fans chose to sign Patrick Vieira’s name at the end but their former midfielder, now Palace manager of course, can draw comfort from the manner of his team’s performance and an encouraging debut in midfield from £21million signing Cheick Doucoure before he went off with cramp. Such is the intensity of the Premier League.
Palace will point to two clear-cut chances that were not taken, either side of half-time, which may have changed everything although Arsenal also had their opportunities while Arteta will have been delighted by the performances of his three debutants.
Gabriel Jesus added far more focus and aggression and movement to Arsenal’s attack; Oleksandr Zinchenko showed all the ‘smarts’ that earned him game-time at Manchester City, and gained an assist, although the stand-out performance was delivered by a player who was bought in 2019 but has not featured in a first-team game until now. William Saliba, still 21, was a wonderfully quick, assured presence at the heart of the defence. And he needed to be.
“Glad All Over,” emphatically rang as the players emerged, in the warm August sunshine, and for a few seconds it was an anthem of pure hope for every fan as the Premier League returned.
But the opening goal should have been claimed by the visiting side inside five minutes and by Gabriel Martinelli after a strong slaloming run by Jesus. The forward’s shot deflected off Marc Guehi to Martinelli who wastefully fired across goal and wide.
The Brazilian made amends. Fifteen minutes later Palace, who were worryingly vulnerable at corners last season, were horribly undone as Zinchenko peeled off unmarked – Wilfried Zaha simply failed to track him on the penalty area’s edge – beyond the far post to head the delivery from Bukayo Saka back into the six-yard area. There was Martinelli, also unmarked, to guide his own header and although Vicente Guaita got a hand to the ball he could not keep it out. A tick for Arsenal’s set-piece coach, Nicolas Jover.
It was no less than Arsenal had deserved. They had set a pattern of dominance, they moved the ball quickly and confidently and Palace, who announced an hour before kick-off that Christian Benteke had left to join Wayne Rooney’s DC United in the MLS, were feeding off scraps and not least in attack. In fact the greatest threat to the Arsenal goal came from the lack of certainty shown by their own goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale when the ball was at his feet. But he would go on to show his mettle.
Palace needed a glimmer of hope and finally Zaha provided it by sprinting back to dispossess Jesus and then drawing a foul from Ben White, shoehorned in at right-back, with a clever drag back. From the free-kick Joachim Andersen headed across goal and Odsonne Edouard threw himself bravely into a diving header, in front of an Arsenal boot, only for Ramsdale to superbly turn it away. At last, with England manager Gareth Southgate and his assistant Steve Holland watching, Palace had threatened.
If Palace should have scored then they certainly should have drawn level when Zaha pierced their defence with a wonderfully incisive pass stabbed in behind Martin Odegaard. Suddenly Eberechi Eze was clear on goal only for Ramsdale to block his weak low shot.
It is usually at this point that Palace’s momentum gets them back into it and flaky Arsenal fold. We have seen this game before. Instead something different happened. Yes, Palace piled on the pressure, they even played a 4-2-4 formation and Arsenal struggled to clear. But they also blocked and tackled and denied Palace before they broke away and scored. Or rather Palace scored an own goal. It came as Saka collected a pass out wide on the right and teased Tyrick Mitchell before crossing dangerously with Guehi unfortunately stooping to direct a header inadvertently past Guaita.
The goal ended any doubt and whereas last season began with a shock and a crisis for Arsenal now they start with a win, a clean sheet, a defiant performance and far greater hope. It was a night for them to calm their nerves and excite their fans.
Crystal Palace 0 Arsenal 2: As it happened
Patrick Vieira speaks after the game
The most important thing is to win the first match, to build confidence and momentum, and then you can talk about things we need to improve – there were quite a few today, to be honest.
More from Arteta
The most important thing is to win the first match, to build confidence and momentum, and then you can talk about things we need to improve – there were quite a few today, to be honest.
Saka’s drive which produced the own goal
Arteta on transfer plans
We are going to try. There are a few things we have planned & we are going to try.
That’s the resilience that we need to see football matches. And you need your goalkeeper, because to be honest they had the best chance of the game with the one-v-one.
Gary Neville on Saliba
He impressed me massively. He reminds me of a young Rio Ferdinand.
Some post match facts
Mikel Arteta has won 50 league matches as Arsenal manager after 98 games in charge, making him the second-quickest manager to reach 50 top-flight wins for the Gunners after Arsène Wenger (94th game).
Crystal Palace have lost a Premier League game at Selhurst Park by two or more goals for only the second time under Patrick Vieira, the other instance being a 1-3 defeat against Liverpool in January this year.
None of Arsenal’s last 18 Premier League games has ended level (W12 L6). It’s the longest ongoing run without a draw in the competition among the 20 current sides, while only once have the Gunners had a longer such run (25 between January and October 2018).
Crystal Palace have won their opening league match in only five of their 23 top-flight seasons (D7 L11), with this the 11th time they’ve failed to score in their season opener at this level.
Saliba speaking as Man of the Match
It’s the first game and we knew it would be hard here, and we stayed compact and strong.
It’s a long time that I was waiting for this moment, and I am so pleased to start with a win.
FT: Crystal Palace 0 Arsenal 2
Arsenal make a winning start to the season. With all the swirling narratives about Friday night at Brentford last August and this fixture last season, that is a very satisfying three points and should increase belief in the squad.
They played some lovely stuff in the first half hour, but Palace got into them after that and enjoyed lots of territory thanks to Andersen’s long diagonals. Ramsdale saved from Edouard and Eze, before that late own goal by Guehi killed the game.
Saliba was outstanding at the back for Arsenal.
Arteta will want Arsenal to control the game with the ball more than they did in that middle period of the game, although it’s hard to stay up the pitch when Andersen is pinging those passes to the corners.
Arsenal making another change: Lokonga replaces Odegaard.
Three minutes of added time!
Can Palace get that goal to at least make for a nervy finish.
The stuffing has been knocked out of Palace slightly. Tierney defends one of those long diagonals, he is much more of a defender than Zinchenko. Arteta has the ability to go horses for courses there.
The game is finishing as it started with Arsenal swarming forward, and Saka almost got a third but his shot was deflected behind. Arsenal just need to manage the game now.
GOOOOAAALLL! Arsenal have their second goal
Palace have had so much pressure in this second period, but this time Arsenal put some passes together in the final third. Nketiah carried the ball from left to right, fed Saka, and his fizzing cross was turned into his own net by Guehi. I think that will down down as an own goal.
Palace have the bit between their teeth, causing both Arsenal full-backs real problems defensively. A Zaha cross fizzes across the box and Saka looked like he may have tripped Eze but it was a dive. Mitchell’s cross then goes behind for a goal kick, poor delivery when Palace had Arsenal on the ropes.
Change for Arsenal: Zinchenko replaced by Tierney, and Nketiah on for Jesus.
Saliba with another wonderful sliding challenge on Zaha, but Partey then is penalised for sliding in a few seconds earlier. Andersen with the header at the back stick but Gabriel reads it clears. The Andersen pushes Arsenal back with another long diagonal.
The game is passing Odegaard by a touch, he just cannot find a second to breathe on the ball. Mateta then fouls Gabriel in the area which gives Arsenal a chance to push up the pitch a clear their lines.
Palace making another change: Doucoure makes way and Milivojevic replaces him. The Serb has scored a few penalties against Arsenal over the years. We are into the final 15 minutes of the game. Arsenal need a second goal still, you feel.
The game is swinging back and forth, Taylor is letting the game flow. The game is full of 50:50s in midfield at the moment, which suits Palace down to the ground. Ayew sends a ball across the box but there is no Palace player there. Then play is stopped for some cramp for Doucoure. Arsenal won’t mind that.
Jesus wants a foul but Taylor said Andersen won the ball cleanly. Then Arsenal do win a foul as Ayew challenges Xhaka.
Then Arsenal threaten with Saka after a lovely through ball from White but his touch takes him wide and the winger blasts over from a tight angle.
Zinchenko with a loose pass in midfield and it gives Palace the chance to come forward. Arsenal not keeping the ball like they were earlier in the game, and the home crowd are growing in voice. Saka is penalised for a scrappy foul and it gives the home team the chance to whip a ball into the box. Arsenal’s lead feels fragile, but Ramsdale catches the delivery cleanly.
Andersen looks for another raking long ball over Zinchenko’s head but Ramsdale mops up. Clyne is then booked for an earlier fan on Martinelli. That was for an earlier foul. No sign of any changes from Arteta.
Palace’s turn to come forward again. Zinchenko is caught under a long ball but Saliba blocks Mateta’s cross and they have a corner. There was an almighty scramble as the ball looked like it was going to bounce in off Gabriel but the flag went up in Arsenal’s favour.
Arsenal threatening a second! Jesus hounds Guehi and wins the ball back, he picks out Odegaard free in the box but he decided to play the extra pass when he was only seven or eight yards out and the ball was on his left foot. The Arsenal captain has to take responsibility and shoot there.
Then White is booked for a foul on Zaha.
Mateta, who scored against Arsenal in the win here in April, is warming up and getting ready to come on. Ramsdale looks for Saka with a big diagonal but it flies out of play. Straight swap for Palace, Mateta replaces Edouard.
Zaha looking dangerous again, Palace have the wind in their sails, but Saliba produced a magnificent sliding tackle in the box to stop him after White was in trouble. Arsenal then keep the ball for a good spell and Saka wins a free-kick just outside the box. Really even game at the moment, you wouldn’t want to call the next goal.
Odegaard with a decent effort from the free-kick, but he whipped it wide of the near post.
Arsenal spread play out to Saka who had Mitchell one-on-one and teed up Odegaard whose shot is deflected behind for a corner.
Palace defend and then Eze misses a big chance! White tried to dribble the ball out of defence and Palace exploited the space he left after losing possession. Zaha slipped a through ball into Eze, behind Odegaard who was temporarily at right-back, but Ramsdale spread himself well. Should have scored though.
Xhaka wins a foul in midfield and it’s Arsenal’s turn to throw the ball into the box. Palace let it bounce but get away with it. The home team are showing more composure on the ball now and are progressing the ball beyond the Arsenal press, something they were not doing in the first half.
Arsenal look to gain territory straight from kick off. Then Palace find some space with a long ball into the right channel and Saliba almost misjudges his header in the box. Then another diagonal causes Arsenal problems and Schlupp’s shot from range deflects behind for a corner. Ramsdale claims.
The players are back out and we’re back under way!
Will Palace continue their improvement or can Arsenal wrestle back control and get the second?
Palace’s defence breached at home
HT: Crystal Palace 0 Arsenal 1
It was an impressive opening 20 minutes from Arteta’s team, capped by Martinelli’s goal from a well-worked corner routine. They have largely been in control since, but there was the odd skittish moment involving Ramsdale and they will maybe feel they should have created more opportunities for the second.
45 minutes +1
Palace finishing with a bit of a flourish, and Gabriel misses a tackle at the edge of the box but Xhaka did well to get a block in with his right foot against Edouard and Arsenal get a head to the corner.
White very competitive in the challenge again. Eze goes down looking for a foul but Taylor tells him to get up, and then Xhaka is booked for diving after going down far too easily against Andersen. Xhaka on a booking now…
Anthony Taylor letting the game flow in midfield, both teams flying into challenges. Ben White is eventually the player penalised. Palace have improved in the second half of this half.
Good chance for Palace! Andersen wins the back post header and Edouard is free on the six-yard line but he did not get enough power on the header and Ramsdale saved.
That long ball out to the left flank is Palace’s escape route again, and Zaha wins a free-kick around 35 yards out left of centre. A set-piece test for Arsenal’s defence after they scored from one earlier, and they are up to the task.
Arsenal with another long spell of possession, Xhaka and Zinchenko have done a lot of good work down that left side, putting combinations of passes together. But Arsenal have not killed this game off with a second goal.
Andersen has probably has been Palace’s best player so far and he defends strongly against Martinelli and then Arsenal make a bit of a mess defending the long ball but a combination of Saliba and Gabriel do the job. The ball flicked off Gabriel’s hand, but nothing doing. Still the odd jittery moment for Arsenal between all their control.
This is a little better from Palace but Saka got back to defend well against Zaha after another glorious diagonal by Andersen. Arsenal then break with pace but Saka and Jesus rather get in each other’s way. Odegaard perhaps could have taken the shot on from the edge of the D.
Ramsdale with another nervy delay getting the ball out of his feet. Arsenal should really not be giving Palace any encouragement like that, they have been in cruise control up until now. Palace still in the game, despite not getting going so far.
That was a scary moment for Ramsdale and Arsenal! Held on to the ball for half a second too long and hammered it against Edouard, but fortunately it did not fly towards the net. And then an offside flag goes in their favour.
Jesus with another sensational spin in midfield, and he was unfortunate not to win the foul. But Arsenal keep the pressure up through Saka and win the corner. This Guaita wins the first ball with a strong punch. Palace survive and can push out.
Solid defending from White up against Zaha on the left flank. Then Andersen finds the winger with an excellent diagonal to the left, and Zaha delivered into the box and Gabriel cleared. Could he have driven with the ball and pushed White into the area?
Event the most boisterous Palace ultra would have to admit that goal was coming, Arsenal have been in complete control. They are in the Palace defensive third again, and Jesus is looking like a livewire. Living up to the billing so far.
GOOOOAAALLL! Martinelli nods Arsenal into the lead
He makes up for that early miss with a real poacher’s goal. It was one of the training ground as Saka sent a loopy one to the back post and Zinchenko, not the biggest player, was there to send an excellent header across goal and Martinelli did the rest. Guaita could have done better.
Palace but their foot on the ball at the back, but again the Arsenal high press is effective with Odegaard. Jesus is annoyed with Xhaka for not playing a through ball for his peeling run down the side. Then Martinelli is fouled before Jesus wins a corner.
Palace’s new signing Doucoure with a crunching tackle on Odegaard which at least gets the crow involved but the ball eventually runs out for an Arsenal throw. Ramsdale with a fantastic piece of distribution out to Zinchenko but the move slows down and Arsenal settle into another spell of possession. Saliba tries to clip one over the top but it runs out of space. Assured start from the visitors but the only clear chance has been that Martinelli sitter.
Palace do venture forward but play is stopped after Xhaka gets back and blocks a Zaha cross with his face. Zaha down that left flank against White looks Palace’s only avenue so far in this game but it is early days.
Palace really struggling to play through the pitch, and when they go direct Arsenal’s pace at the back is seeing them sweep up all the loose balls. Arsenal working the ball around with patience and accuracy but they will want to score and make this period of dominance pay. We have all seen games when a team is punished for failing to do so…
Arsenal winning the ball back high up the pitch again and Zinchenko stings the palms of Guaita. This really is all Arsenal so far, but Ben White gives Palace a chance to take a breathe with a loose pass. Arsenal moving the ball well and looking assured defensively. Jesus a pest so far.
Arsenal dominating the game and looking really slick around the edge of the box, Jesus looking to combine with quick one-twos. Schlupp gives chase down the pitch but Saliba uses his recovery pace to defend and win a foul. Good football from Arsenal to work their way out from the back but at the end of the move Jesus was offside.
What a chance for Arsenal and what a miss by Martinelli! It was brilliant defensive work by Jesus to win the ball back and dance around challenges into the box, and the ball bounced off Guehi and into Martinelli’s path.
He was only six yards out but passed the ball wide of the far post with his left. He really should have done better.
Palace go long into the left-hand corner to gain some early territory with a throw. Arsenal starting the game in their own half. White hurls it down the line and Palace pick up the loose ball and establish their first bit of possession. Andersen with a diagonal left but Saka.
Arsenal then enjoy a long spell of possession but Odegaard tries to slip a pass into the box rather than shooting from distance.
The home team get us under way, with Eze starting the game in a central attacking midfield position. That will be interesting.
The players are out on the pitch
Just a matter of minutes before the 2022-23 Premier League season kicks off. Pre-match handshakes are back, if there are any handshake fans out there.
Almost every fan is in their seat now
The sun is out in south London and the noise is building. There is a tifo display from the Palace fans in the Holmesdale Road end and the home fans are bouncing against them.
Zaha wanted to join Arsenal in 2019, now he is out to do them damage again
Arteta on the signings of Jesus and Zinchenko
We signed some very important players who bring a different mentality, they need to inspire our young players.
We offer a different role within the team and the squad and they were looking for that within their career now. I am delighted to have them.
Our man at Selhurst Jason Burt has (almost) avoided all of the posts
What a difference a year makes…
But will the result be any better?
Vieira’s local knowledge from City
Is it a coincidence that Vieira took four points off both Guardiola and Arteta last season, given his time within the City Football Group? There must be some trade secrets he put to good use. Will he repeat the trick tonight?
A notable omission on the team news analysis….
William Saliba makes his full debut for Arsenal after a successful season on loan at Marseille. Arsenal fans are hugely excited about him, but his return has flown under the radar more generally – not a great surprise given he was actually signed in 2019. He has presence, speed and technique, and is already in the senior France squad. But he only has two years on his Arsenal contract…
Arsenal in their third kit tonight
Analysing the team news
It looks like both teams are playing a version of 4-3-3. It is a really hard-working Palace side, and it is interesting to see Schlupp – who has played as a full-back – operating in the zone Martin Odegaard likes to pull the strings from. Vieira has gone with the mobility and link play of Edouard rather than the height of Mateta.
Arsenal start the season with a settled team and it is the same XI that started their final two friendlies. It will be a 2-3-5 in possession with White and Zinchenko tucking into midfield, and Xhaka pushing up towards the attackers.
White vs Zaha could be the game’s defining battle.
Patrick Vieira joins Sky
I think last season we had a really good season but we have to raise the bar and be more demanding of ourselves. We know this season is going to be tough but we have laid a foundation.
What can bring success is stability, we have the majority of the players still at this football club.
On the tactical side we didn’t have the chance to work together (due to pre-season problems) but on the positive side having two teams enabled us to have lots of games.
He says the plan is to play with a lot of aggression, and that new signing Doucoure will offer Palace greater quality in possession.
Crystal Palace starting XI: Doucoure makes his debut
Arsenal starting XI: Zinchenko and Jesus make their full debuts
Aaron Ramsdale speaks
We come here tonight full of optimism and just want to get the ball rolling now. That’s gone [last season’s gone] the new signings have brought a fresh energy and it’s a new season with new goals.
Palace fans optimistic after Patrick Vieira’s first season
Mikel Arteta is in the building
Five subs in action tonight
I took a detailed look at how the rule change has already changed this summer’s transfer market, and will alter how coaches approach matches during the 90 minutes. Will it benefit the big boys to the extent people are predicting? You can read the piece in full here.
Michael Olise, absent for Palace tonight, was one the league’s most productive subs last season.
Crystal Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell speaks
I’m feeling very confident like the rest of the team. It was a good season and just looking to kick on like the rest of the team. We need more consistency and but we’re more of a team and know what the manager wants from us.
Arsenal are a dangerous team and every season is different.
Gary Neville on Arsenal’s top four chances
Tottenham have strengthened enormously, so have Manchester City and Liverpool, so I think it’s one spot they are going for or that’s the way I see it. The thing I worry about is there will be a pinch point in the season when they come under pressure and do they have the experience to see them through?
Zinchenko is on the Sky set at the start of the live build-up
Honestly, I’m so happy to be here and part of this amazing club. Since I was a kid I was a massive fan of Arsenal. I’m grateful for what Manchester City did for me but this is a new page.
If you ask me my proper position I have no answer – in the national team I played central but with City at left-back. I’m ready to play wherever the manager sees me.
Mikel Arteta wants new signings to make squad ‘ruthless winners’
By Russell Harris
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes bringing in Premier League champions Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko will inspire his players to become “ruthless winners”.
Arteta spent around £75 million to land the pair from Manchester City. The Spaniard wants their winning mentality to rub off on the rest of his squad.
“That was the aim of it,” Arteta said. “Those players have been inspired by top players, top professionals, ruthless winners for many years.
“They were looking at them, and now it’s their turn to do the same and inspire those younger players that we have in our squad to do the same, and to show them what it takes to win, and the level of detail, hunger and dedication that you need to keep winning.”
Jesus is finally poised to play in the central striker’s role, rather than to the side of a front three, as he did for much of his six years at City.
The move already looks like paying dividends, with the 25-year-old scoring seven goals during pre-season ahead of his Premier League debut in tonight’s opener at Crystal Palace.
“The role that Gabi has here is going to be very different to the role that Gabi had in his previous club,” Arteta added.
“That needs some adaptation and time, and we are all surprised with how quickly he’s done it, but we have to share that responsibility.
“He’s a tremendous talent with a mentality that is so contagious and he’s going to give us a lot, but it’s a team at the end of the day.
“We are all enthusiastic. We had the pre-season we wanted, it was well-organised, we had good results, good preparation and good performances. But now the ball starts to roll in a completely different context.
“We are ready to go to a different level, and I am convinced of that. What the other teams are doing is obvious, and others already had a much stronger squad than we had, and they still recruited four or five, or some of them, seven players.
“This is not going to get any easier, so we can just focus on what we are trying to do, what we can do, because we cannot do everything at the same time, and we are confident that we’re going to be able to do it.”
The enthusiasm surrounding the Gunners is in stark contrast to the start of last season where a Friday night defeat elsewhere in the capital, at newly promoted Brentford, was the first of three straight losses.
But Arteta added: “It is different. Everything that happened before that game was pretty strange and unique. The preparation, the pre-season that we had, different contexts.
“We are really excited, looking forward to the new season and will try to start in the best way, and this is how we do our preparation.”