Yes: the rumours are true. The Premier League, which by no means actually went away, has returned. And it felt fairly good on a sultry Friday night time, watching an Arsenal workforce of keen new shifting components do a wonderful job of elevating some tender early-season hopes at Selhurst Park.
It was 24 levels in South London as kick-off approached on the earliest date the English high tier has ever begun. This was a desiccated sort of warmth, the grass scorched white, the sky a deathly blue. The English summer season does no less than have a way of irony. To keep away from the Gulf solar the Premier League will as an alternative play by way of a heatwave in England.
For all that this was a enjoyable, breezy begin to the season. If final week’s Neighborhood Defend felt like a sort of visitation, soccer reimagined as a 90-minute Sopranos dream sequence, there was a well-recognized tang to this. A London derby. A densely coiffured programs supervisor. That sallow summer season solar. Possibly this was actual in spite of everything.
It’s an issue that may also apply to Arsenal in a season that can outline the work so far of Mikel Arteta. They kicked off with a daring beginning 11, the sort of 11 that will get bandied round on fan chats, the hopeful 11, the cake for breakfast 11. Saliba! Martinelli! No filler! Besides perhaps Granit Xhaka! However that’s positive, he’s additionally good now!
By the tip of a hard-fought 2-0 victory, a scoreline that fails to replicate Crystal Palace’s resilience between the objectives, it felt as if one thing would possibly simply be stirring right here. Gabriel Jesus was good. Oleksandr Zinchenko was good for some time. William Saliba was superb, and can draw essentially the most consideration.
Saliba made seven clearances with out ever having to make a sort out. His passing was strong. He didn’t look flustered and even very drained by the tip, a step up on the fraught, snot-stained showings of Arsenal centre-backs previous. He cruised by way of this, teasing issues out a couple of seconds prematurely inside his head. This is sweet. The place has he been once more?
If the sport was reassuringly brisk, for opening-day TV viewers there have been some disconcerting developments within the Sky Sports activities protection. Earlier than kick-off Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher had been despatched to do vox pops with followers, a step up from going out to fetch some milk, however a watering down of the function of professional analyst. Why not go all the best way and simply stick them in a pub someplace?
Gaz and Carra did their finest. However frowning blokes in duplicate shirts are in plentiful provide exterior the paywall. Forensic, graphics-laden content material is what folks pay their subs for.
Then there was the bizarre, claustrophobic prospect of Patrick Vieira being pressured to mouth breathless platitudes at half-time. This was disagreeable for all involved. Vieira doesn’t wish to do that. He isn’t a part of the spectacle at that stage. This is just not American wrestling simply but. Cease over-producing this factor. The sport is sweet. Belief it.
And each of those groups had been good, Arsenal proper from the beginning. Gabriel Jesus did one thing sensible with three minutes gone, stealing the ball 40 yards from purpose and producing a nutmeg and a sidestep. For lengthy durations these pink away shirts, the color of heat-damaged processed ham, discovered neat zippy little triangles. Zinchenko was excitingly cellular, taking extra touches within the opening half hour than anybody else on the pitch.
He had a hand within the opening purpose, discovering 5 yards of untended area by making a looping run from the sting of the field. He headed the ball again. Martinelli nodded it in.
Jesus was additionally fast on his toes, and eager to dribble and switch. He’s in define precisely what Arsenal have wanted: urgent, edge, authority. Maybe folks have forgotten how good he’s, or how good he was meant to be. Between them Jesus and Martinelli had eight dribbles and 4 photographs within the opening half hour of the season. They performed collectively for Brazil towards Japan in Tokyo in June. They must be this good.
Palace have been depleted by harm and the lack of gamers. Expectations are low, which would possibly simply be a helpful place to be, however Vieira actually does appear to know what he’s doing and which gamers to belief. They pressed Arsenal again both facet of half-time, and used Wilfried Zaha as a weapon towards Ben White. But it surely was additionally a probability for Saliba to indicate his qualities. Plus Arsenal have Saka, who made the second purpose, forcing Marc Guéhi to deflect a arduous low cross into his personal internet.
For Arteta the trajectory is obvious from right here, a time to ship on the funding in time and sources. However they’ve a type of play and a blueprint. The shadow of the nice Arsène has handed. The failings listed below are this workforce’s flaws, the strengths these Arteta has grafted on. Whisper it, however this was truly fairly encouraging.