The stage is perfectly set to put the struggles of last season behind them and begin the 2022-23 campaign with a statement. Opening the Premier League season on the road once again. Everyone is well aware of how poorly Arsenal started last season and how long it took them to pull themselves out of both the numerical hole in the table as well as the perception it left across the league. Now with a new striker up top, a brilliant attacking line behind him with an extra year of experience, how far can Mikel Arteta take this squad?
Beyond the opening night hurdle Arsenal must clear, the Gunners don’t have a great record against Crystal Palace recently. Arsenal has just one win in their last eight matches against Palace, dating back to 2019. Last season the club had a 2-2 draw at the Emirates, saved only by a 90th-minute equalizer by Alexandre Lacazette, before a 3-0 defeat at Selhurst Park in April. After a strong preseason, the pressure will be on Arsenal to deliver.
If you missed it, make sure to check out the Q&A with the opposition for this match with The Eagles Beak.
- Eddie Nketiah
- Reiss Nelson
- Albert Sambi Lokonga
- Mohamed Elneny
- Hector Bellerin
- Rob Holding
- William Saliba
- Matt Turner
- Left Out: Alex Rúnarsson (expected sale or loan), Kieran Tierney (injury), Pablo Mari (expected sale or loan), Takehiro Tomiyasu (injury), Lucas Torreira (expected sale or loan), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (expected sale or loan), Fabio Vieira (injury), Emile Smith Rowe (injury), Marquinhos (expected loan), & Folarin Balogun (expected loan).
- That’s a long list of left-outs, but such is the nature of starting a season before the transfer window closes. It would be very surprising not to see the majority of them sold or loaned by the end of the month. But considering the increased number of matches this season, should Arsenal keep a 5th CB or just use a U23 in an emergency? Will Balogun be needed or is it more valuable to give him consistent playing time and use Martinelli up top if Jesus or Eddie isn’t available? Should the club keep Maitland-Niles around if Bellerin exits and help cover a number of positions?
- The bigger issue is the players entering the season recovering from long-term or recent injury setbacks - Tierney, Tomiyasu, and Smith Rowe. Plus the eventual availability of Fabio Vieira to feature in the midfield. All four seem unlikely to be included on Friday, but it’s more important to slowly integrate them into the season as to avoid continuous setbacks like Tierney and Tomiyasu have dealt with in the past.
- Regardless of the pending transfer activity and the numerous injury issues, Mikel Arteta will be able to start the season with nine (10?) players from his preferred XI? The front five, the center-back pairing, and the keeper are all the best options heading into the season. Tomiyasu would be the ideal RB, but if both are healthy does Mikel prefer Zinchenko or Tierney? A good problem to have eventually.
- Over on the right, while Tomiyasu would start if healthy, Cedric probably gets the nod over Hector Bellerin. Bellerin is still expected to leave in the coming weeks, whereas Cedric is clearly a part of the squad plans for 2022-23. If the rest of the backline works out, finding a Zinchenko on the right will be a high priority come next summer.
How to watch
Friday (8/5) at 3:00 pm ET / 12:00 pm PT on USA.
Arsenal - 3
Crystal Palace - 1