So the big day has finally arrived for us to see the new improved Arsenal, and to find out if the squad has the mentality to break down a very determined Crystal Palace side that will be well-drilled by the former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira.
Palace play entertaining free flowing football and certainly had the measure of Arsenal. We only gained one point from our two League meeting last season, losing embarrassingly 3-0 at Selhurst Park and gaining a 1-1 draw at the Emirates, and that was only because of a last-gasp, 95th-minute equalizer from Alex Lacazette at the Emirates last October.
We have only won one of our last 8 meetings in fact, but that was only two seasons ago at Selhurst Park, so hopefully Arsenal can take heart from that, but as our overall record is so bad I find it a bit surprising that Arsenal are odds-on favourites to take the three points.
But there is no doubt that Arsenal have had a great transfer window and a near perfect pre-season to get in top form for this match, but Vieira has also been active in improving his defence, having brought in the USA defender Chris Richards from Bayern Munich and England goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, and more importantly Cheick Doucouré from Lens has arrived to toughen up the midfield, so Palace should be even harder to break down in the new campaign.
Vieira likes big tough players and bullying opponents, and his record of not having conceded at home in their last six competitive games (including matches against, Man City, Man United and Arsenal) shows that his tactics are working, at Selhurst Park at least, so that makes Arsenal odds look a little short, but with money pouring on to the Gunners from gamblers all over the world, even on the top betting sites in Uganda, the bookies are probably playing safe.
So tonight’s game is certain to be a hard-fought game between two sides with very strong defences. With Saliba and Zinchenko joining Gabriel and Ben White in the Arsenal defence they will be extremely hard to get past. in fact, in pre-season, Arsenal did not concede one goal with Saliba on the pitch.
So with that in mind, and the fact that Palace simply don’t concede any goals at home, has made me think.
Although I seriously believe Arteta’s new team will win tonight, I am thinking of having a little saver on the 0-0 draw at around 10/1 just in case.
What do you think?