Arsenal justified the pre-season buzz about their potential improvement with a deserved 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Two new signings and one long-awaited Premier League debut will only add to the excitement.
Arsenal’s summer seems to have been an exercise in increasing pressure. A late-season slip that allowed their rivals to secure Champions League football ahead of them was followed by a documentary recording in detail how those events played out.
Throw in transfer spending in excess of £100m that appears to have addressed the main weaknesses. Add some impressive pre-season form that included thrashings of Chelsea and Sevilla. That concoction had Arsenal supporters hoping for much, much more.
On this evidence, that optimism is vindicated. Arsenal started strongly, proving too quick and too slick for a Palace side made to look sluggish in comparison. When the pressure came in the second half, they held on before adding a second goal. It was impressive.
It has not always been that way on occasions such as this one. This is the second season in a row that the Gunners have kicked off their Premier League season under the Friday night lights. Last year, across the capital, they were bullied and beaten by Brentford.
More recently, on Arsenal’s last trip to Selhurst Park in April, there was an even more emphatic defeat inflicted. That 3-0 loss to Palace was miserable. Mikel Arteta’s side spurned the chance to move up to fourth place in the table, clear of Tottenham with a game in hand.
“It is time to accept the criticism, put your hand up and apologise because this performance was not good enough for this club,” said Arteta at the time. Subsequent defeats to Brighton and Southampton further curtailed the momentum.