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Arsenal kicked off the Premier League season in style, exiting the cauldron of fire at Selhurst Park unscathed, 2-0 victors.
Gunners fans can rest easy this weekend as the rest of the fixtures play-out, but in the meantime, what did we learn from Friday night’s victory?
1 - William Saliba is the real deal
Now, Arsenal fans knew this, they saw in pre-season that he’s a “Bentley” of a defender, just now, the English footballing world saw it.
Sky commentators waxed lyrical over the young Frenchman, as he oozed composure on the ball, and remarkably athleticism off of it.
The 21-year-old was given the MOTM award, and rightly so. In a hostile Selhurst Park atmosphere, the Gunners no.12 played as though in his own garden.
If this is Saliba’s start, then the future is bright. Only one game has been played this season, yet the Frenchman has made himself undroppable.
2 - Odegaard needs to shoot more
A simplistic analysis, but an accurate one. The Norwegian had multiple chances to let fly against Palace but opted for the wrong pass.
Whether this is a decision-making thing or mentality thing is unclear, but the Gunners' captain could have had a couple goals for himself this evening.
The Gunners' no.8 didn’t have the best of games, often hiding when his team needed his leadership most, allowing the opposition to sustain pressure.
However, he is young. Despite being club captain, Odegaard is far from the finished article, and will develop in time to embrace the chaos of environments like Selhurst Park.
3 - Arteta’s players aren’t at the level mentally yet
The tactical set-up for today’s game was faultless, and for 25 minutes at the start of the match it was flawlessly executed by the players.
Unfortunately, as the Gunners fans saw last season, the players have a tendency to drop off, both with the ball and the intensity shown, and off the ball in levels of aggression.
Arteta could be seen on the side-line gesticulating furiously for his players to get up the pitch, an all-too-common theme with this Arsenal side.
It is one of the pitfalls of a young team, they retreat when they need to control, to solidify, to knock all hopes of a comeback out of the opposition’s mind.
Like with Odegaard, that will come with age and more exposure to those pressurised situations. The players are good enough to execute complex tactical instructions, they just need to believe they can over the course of 90 minutes.
4 - Tierney’s battle with Zinchenko will be enthralling
The Ukrainian had a fine debut against Crystal Palace, looking calm and technically secure whenever on the ball.
However, the downside of having been in a side as dominant as Manchester City is that you are rarely tested defensively.
Arsenal knew when they signed the 25-year-old it was for his supreme gifts on the ball, rather than his defensive nous off of it.
In stepped Kieran Tierney, who after being subbed on with just under 10 minutes to go, steadied an Arsenal ship that was rocking.
Tierney’s defensive stability is far superior to Zinchenko’s, making a battle between the both for the left-back spot intriguing.
What may occur is a horses-for-courses solution, with games where the Gunners can expect a majority of possession seeing the Ukrainian start, whereas tough, gritty fixtures seeing the Scotsman get the nod.
5 - Gabriel Jesus is a star
As with William Saliba, this is common knowledge to Arsenal fans, who have been witness to the Brazilian’s magic in pre-season.
Jesus continued that talismanic form into the game against Palace, with the ball attached to a string for the forward.
Stretching the opposition defence when needed, and dropping in between the lines on other occasions, Arsenal’s no.9 put in a near-faultless performance.
In a season where Champions League football is a must, Jesus is going to spearhead that hunt with his infectious energy and masterful control of a football.
He’ll be kept on his toes no doubt, with Nketiah’s display off the bench excellent as per usual, but if this is the beginning, then Arsenal fans will salivate at what the endgame looks like.
Featured Image Credit: Action Plus Sports Images / Alamy Stock Photo
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