Preview: Crystal Palace vs Arsenal

There’s optimism aplenty at Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace hoping a busy summer’s recruitment can help them build on last season’s 12th place finish in the Premier League (PL). There’s a literal building job also on the horizon with the club committed to redeveloping their ground, and fans are eager to see if manager Patrick Vieira can guide them to a first top-half finish since 2014/15.

Coincidentally, they opened that season against Arsenal too, losing 2-1, so even another H2H loss isn’t necessarily a bad omen – not that ex-Gunner Vieira will see it that way! Eagles fans will obviously hope for a repeat of the 3-0 win in this corresponding fixture last term, part of an ongoing six-match unbeaten run at home in the league (W3, D3).

Although Arsenal’s fifth-place finish last term represented progress and justified the faith shown in manager Mikel Arteta, for much of the season they seemed on course for a top-four place, so that will be the minimum target for the North Londoners this term. With that in mind, Arteta has refreshed his still-youthful squad in the summer including signing Gabriel Jesus, Fábio Vieira and Oleksandr Zinchenko.

This London derby offers an early test of how those new players have settled following a positive pre-season including a 4-0 win over Chelsea and a 6-0 thrashing of Sevilla! Improving their away form could be key to Arsenal’s season however, particularly as they conceded a joint league-high 65% of their PL goals last term on the road.

Players to watch: Six of Wilfried Zaha’s seven PL goals here for Crystal Palace last term opened the scoring, while four of Gabriel Jesus’ five PL goalscoring appearances last season were in games producing over 3.5 goals.

Hot stat: Each of Palace’s last six PL openers (and Arsenal’s last four) saw one or both teams fail to score.

Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Schlupp, Doucoure, Eze; Ayew, Edouard, Zaha

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Jesus

Palace will of course take major confidence from their showings against Arsenal last term and their spate of clean sheets at home, but the Gunners have looked like a different beast in pre-season and have upped their pressing game tenfold, which should help them begin their Premier League season in winning fashion.