It was a nerve-wracking first 90 minutes of League football for Arsene Wenger, never mind the long-suffering Arsenal fans that hadn’t seen an opening day win for five years.
But the fans stayed behind the team even when the Gunners went behind to Hangeland’s opening goal, and their support was repain with an added time winner by Aaron Ransey.
Wenger was asked after the match if his plan was to wear Palace down: “It was not the plan,” Wenger replied. “the plan was to win the game, but because of the physicality and organisation level of Crystal Palace, it was very difficult for us. Why? Because we conceded a goal on the first corner they had. We lacked a bit of pace in the final third to change what we built up into dangerous situations.
“But it was enough to win the game and win the three points. You could see that for the first game of the season, nobody won at home, we were the only team that won at home. So that shows you that it’s difficult for everybody on the first day of the season. We got the three points we wanted, now let’s focus on Besiktas.
Wenger was also happy that, despite the lack of fitness, his team fought hard for the points right until the end. “Yes of course we will need that.” he continued. “I believe that our attitude was right, on our fluency we can do better, but that will come. Let’s get everybody physically ready. Having said that, you could see that Crystal Palace played with the same organisation as last year, when they changed the situation from a relegation team to finishing 11th in the Premier League. They were physically very strong and they added some height with Hangeland and he scored a goal.
He was also pleased with the support from the stands, after receiving much abuse last season when the team played a mediocre game. “I am grateful for that,” Wenger added. “because before, sometimes we had to face that frustration. Today, at 1-0 down they stayed behind the team. At 1-1 when we started to have heavy legs, they gave us some energy.”
Okay it was a shaky start to the season, but three points is three points. Surely the players will be just that little bit fitter on Tuesday to ensure we go on to the Group Stages of the Champions League.