Facing Palace in the Premier League opener will be a good challenge for Arsenal by SE
Anticipation and apprehension have been aplenty in the weeks leading up to this one, and if you’re someone associated with Arsenal, the wait must have felt longer than it actually was.
From valuable acquisitions in the transfer market to have had a very good pre-season, Arsenal must surely be cock-a-hoop going into the new season. The FA Community Shield mauling of Manchester City should have raised the confidence levels, ahead of the new season, even more. But, the first Premier League weekend sees Arsenal take on Crystal Palace at the Emirates, and mind you it won’t be easy.
Tony Pulis’s men will come to the Emirates, and have one and only thing in mind: Test Arsenal’s credentials of being genuine title contenders. It’s not illogical to have a look at the fixture list and think to ourselves, “Chelsea in October, Man City in September, and we have a relatively easy end to the season”, but it’s nowhere near as easy as that.
The Eagles thrived on efficient defensive displays last season once Tony Pulis took over from Ian Holloway, and the former Stoke City manager highlighted the importance of being a good defensive unit. It was through very good defensive displays that Crystal Palace surged their way up to finish 11th in the Barclays Premier League table last season. And, against Arsenal this Saturday, the orders from Pulis to his players won’t be any different.
Crystal Palace will want to be organized at the back, and make use of the likes of Puncheon, Bolasie and the former gunner Marouane Chamakh to hit Arsenal on the break. Breaking that Crystal Palace defence will be Arsenal’s biggest challenge to collect 3 points, before facing the likes of Everton and Man City in the following weeks.
I think facing Crystal Palace in the Premier League opener will be a tantalizing proposition for Arsenal, who should have enough in the tank to put it past a resilient Palace defence. Palace will become narrow while defending and Arsenal might not have the space to play their exquisite brand of Football. But this is the kind of game that could bring out Sanchez’s versatility. The Chilean can be good in the air, and win those 50-50 tussles, which will be crucial in a game of this character. First goal, irrespective of which team scores, will go a long way in determining what happens at the end of 90 minutes.
But, if you’re Wenger and gunning for the Premier League title, this would be a perfect test to kick start the campaign. Collect 3 points against Palace, and it would be a job ‘very well done’.