Gunners get going with impressive win over Crystal Palace

Gabriel Martinelli's early header and a Marc Guehi own-goal sees Arsenal start their Premier League campaign with a 2-0 win at Selhurst Park

Friday, 5th August — By Steve Barnett

Arsenal

Premier League

CRYSTAL PALACE 0
ARSENAL 2 (Martinelli 20, Guehi 85 og)

WHAT a difference 12 months – and another £120million-plus spent on new players – makes as Arsenal kicked off their Premier League campaign with a victory at Selhurst Park this evening (Friday).

A Gabriel Martinelli header and Marc Guehi’s own-goal late on was enough to earn the Gunners a hard-fought 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Mikel Arteta’s new signings certainly played their part, with Gabriel Jesus terrorising the Palace defenders at times in the first-half, while Oleksandr Zinchenko provided the assist for Martinelli’s opening goal.

But it was a signing the north Londoners completed back in 2019 that made the most telling contribution – William Saliba looking cool and composed throughout as he put in a man-of-the-match display at the heart of Arsenal’s defence.

After loan spells at Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille, Saliba has returned to give the Gunners’ rearguard some much-needed stability.

Summing up his competitive debut for the club, the 21-year-old said: “I’ve waited a long time for this moment and I’m happy to start my first game with a win and a clean sheet.

“It helped me to spend time on loan in France because I’m young and I need to play. Now I’m back and I hope we can have a good season.”

Arsenal started brightly in south London and should have taken the lead within minutes of the kick off when a superb solo run from Jesus led to what looked a simple chance from close range for Martinelli – but the Brazilian forward somehow managed to fire wide of the far post with the goal at his mercy.

Martinelli made amends in the 20th minute, however, when he stooped to head in from a clever corner routine that saw Zinchenko peel away into space before sending the ball back into a packed six-yard box.

Showing some of the frailties of last season, Arsenal started to defend deep which allowed Palace to grow into the game. The visitors had Aaron Ramsdale to thank for sending them in at the break still in front after he reacted well to save Odsonne Edouard’s close-range header.

Ramsdale was called into action again on 52 minutes when he denied Eberechi Eze on the angle after the Palace midfielder was played in by a clever pass from Wilfried Zaha.

The Arsenal nerves were finally settled in the 85th minute when Guehi deflected Bukayo Saka’s drilled cross past his own goalkeeper.

Having seen his side start last season with a 2-0 defeat at Brentford – and then go on to lose their first three games of the campaign – Arteta certainly looked a lot happier tackling the press after this Premier League opener.

“The way we started the game and played in the first half hour was superb – we should have scored more,” said the Gunners boss. “We had to play the game in ways we didn’t want to as it went on because Palace are able to do that to you.

“To win here, you need to suffer – we’ve done it and that’s part of the mentality we want to build, to come to places like this and win.”

Crystal Palace: Guaita, Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell, Doucoure (Milivojevic, 75), Schlupp (Hughes, 86), Eze (Ebiowei, 86), Ayew, Zaha, Edouard (Mateta, 58)
Substitutes not used: Johnstone, Ward, Richards, Riedewald, Plange

Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko (Tierney, 83), Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Odegaard (Lokonga, 90+3), Martinelli, Jesus (Nketiah, 83)
Substitutes not used: Turner, Holding, Cedric Soares, Pepe, Nelson, Elneny

 

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