The new Premier League season begins on Friday evening and for the second campaign in a row it gets underway with Arsenal travelling across the capital for a London derby. Having lost to Brentford last season, Crystal Palace will be their first opponents this term.
Palace were a much improved outfit last season and will be looking to kick on again but Arsenal have signed wisely in the summer and get the first chance to show that the business they have done has enhanced them.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League channels with the build-up to the new season starting at 6.30pm and kick off at Selhurst Park at 8pm.
I expected Crystal Palace to be a better version of themselves under Patrick Vieira than they were under Roy Hodgson and that is how it proved. Their next task is to continue to improve and push for the top half of the table. There are one or two question marks over the Eagles this season such as how they will fare without Conor Gallagher but having had a year under the progressive style of Vieira there should still be natural improvement within them.
Palace will be delighted to start the season on home soil this term. I say that because last season only the top two gave up fewer chances at home than the Eagles. That is a good sounding board to build from and when you consider this is a side with the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Ebere Eze and Michael Olise creating chances, Palace should always contain a goal threat. If those numbers strengthen with the natural improvement under Vieira the hosts could be tough to stop here.
This is a big season for Arsenal. After investing heavily last summer, the spending continued ahead of this season so now you would imagine that Mikel Arteta has the squad he wants at his disposal. There is no hiding place for a manager when that is the case so the Gunners will need to deliver on the pitch. That should motivate them for this match and another thing that might perk them up is that they put in a horrendous performance in this fixture last season.
That was one of a number of disappointing away displays they came up with last term so Arsenal have an immediate chance to show that they have made sufficient improvement. All eyes will be on the new signings, particularly Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus, but the younger players such as Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka get the chance to show they have improved again. Arsenal need to show more in attack this term as they became quite boring to watch last season.
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Crystal Palace are set to be without the likes of Michael Olise, James MacArthur, James Tomkins, Sam Johnstone and Jack Butland for this season opener. That leaves Patrick Vieira a little lacking in options.
Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko are both expected to make their debuts for Arsenal in this match. Mikel Arteta has injury doubts over Kieran Tierney and Takehiro Tomiyasu while Emile Smith Rowe is definitely out.
Arsenal are expected to improve dramatically this season and it might be that is the case but I need to see them deliver a solid performance on the road before I trust them. This will be a good test of their credentials because Selhurst Park has never been an easy place to go and I don’t expect that to change now. There are one or two doubts over the makeup of the Palace squad but whoever is selected will be organised well.
I would guess that Arsenal will finish the season ahead of Crystal Palace this season but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be odds on to win here. Palace were very good at home last season and I don’t see that changing much. The fact that we can get a decent price on them to avoid defeat here appeals. I’m still not convinced that Arsenal are going to be full of goals under Arteta so if Palace find the net it could be enough to take something from the game.
Back Crystal Palace (+0.5AH) to beat Arsenal for a 3/10 stake at 2.06 with Bet365