Opening Day: The Gunners look to shoot down the Eagles
A few days ago, both Arsenal and Crystal Palace fans will have been buoyed by the optimism and expectations that only a new season can bring, but with the shocking resignation of Tony Pulis already foreshadowing this all-London encounter, it’s likely that only one set of supporters are seeing things with the same rosy view.
The managerial merry-go-round usually throws up some barmy candidates for the chop – and at the most unexpected times – but with the Welshman saying his farewells to Selhurst Park just three months after being named LMA manager of the year, this will come as a surprise even to those who expect the unexpected.
Arsenal meanwhile, will feature high on the list of teams that caretaker boss Keith Millen will not have wanted to face in the current circumstances. The Gunners are fresh off the back of brushing aside champions Manchester City in the Community Shield curtain raiser on Sunday and have bolstered their squad in a bid to snatch the Premier League title away from the Etihad. The long serving Arsene Wenger seems to have finally stumbled across the cheque book that he looked to have lost years ago, splashing the cash on goalkeeper David Ospina, defenders Callum Chambers and Mathieu Debuchy, as well as their marquee signing – Chilean Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona for a hefty £33 million. With Wenger’s belief and confidence that his investments have what it takes to improve on a fourth placed finish, many sides may struggle to cope with the new-look Arsenal; not least a Crystal Palace team who shipped 17 goals in eight games before Pulis’s arrival.
The Eagles however, have made signings of their own, although only three. Right-back Martin Kelly joins from Liverpool, Frazier Campbell, who scored six goals for Cardiff last season and Brede Hangeland who didn’t enjoy the best of times last year have all signed up.
- Abou Diaby has returned to full training but won’t be in consideration for Saturday’s game.
- World Cup winners Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski are unlikely to start
- Ospina likely to be out of squad with thigh injury
- Adrian Mariappa could return after a rib injury
- Damien Delaney is expected to miss out after a knock
- Hangeland and Campbell could make debuts
FORM GUIDE (LAST FIVE GAMES)
Manchester City 0 – 3 Arsenal
Arsenal 1 – 0 AS Monaco
Arsenal 5 – 1 Benfica
Arsenal 0 – 1 New York Red Bulls
Boreham Wood 0 – 2 Arsenal
Augsburg 0 – 0 Crystal Palace
Brentford 3 – 2 Crystal Palace
Richmond Kickers 0 – 3 Crystal Palace
Philadelphia Union 0 – 1 Crystal Palace
Columbus Crew 2 – 2 Crystal Palace
HEAD TO HEAD (LAST FIVE GAMES)
Arsenal 2 – 0 Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace 0 – 2 Arsenal
Arsenal 5 – 1 Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace 1 – 1 Arsenal
Arsenal 1 – 0 Crystal Palace
- Arsenal haven’t lost an opening day fixture since 2000.
- The Gunners remain unbeaten in the first three league games in 27 seasons.
- Crystal Palace have conceded at least two goals in their first three top flight games