Arsenal’s newcomers made an immediate impact as they opened the English Premier League by beating hosts Crystal Palace 2-0 and manager Mikel Arteta says there may be more new faces coming before the end of the transfer window..
Left back Oleksandr Zinchenko set up the opening goal in the first half while striker Gabriel Jesus created a number of chances and defender William Saliba put in a near-flawless performance in his first start for Arsenal on Friday night.
Zinchenko and Jesus both joined from Manchester City in the offseason while Saliba was signed in 2019 but spent the last three seasons on loan in his native France. The 21-year-old centre back looked composed and confident in his league debut, making key interventions and blocks as Palace chased an equaliser.
“There are a few things we have planned (in the transfer market), and if we can do them it would be great,” Arteta told Sky Sports after the match.
Jesus was a constant threat to the Crystal Palace defence.
“(Jesus brings) the fear factor – he is always in your shoulder, the ball is bouncing, that 50-50 ball, he always has that intuition, that ability to get the ball off you,” said Arteta.
“He’s always ready to act and he’s so sharp, so I think for the defenders is difficult to play against him.”
The Gunners still had to endure a nervy second half before Bukayo Sako’s attempted cross was deflected into his own net by Palace defender Marc Guehi in the 85th.
Arsenal took the lead from a well-worked corner in the 20th, when Zinchenko met a long delivery into the area and headed back across goal toward Gabriel Martinelli, who nodded the ball in from close range.
Martinelli should have scored in the opening minutes after a rampaging run from Jesus, who dribbled his way into the box before the ball was deflected into the path of his fellow Brazilian, who scuffed his shot wide of the far post.
For Arsenal, it made for a much better start to the season than last year, when they also opened the campaign on a Friday night but fell to at promoted Brentford 2-0 and went on to lose the next two games as well.
“The way we started the game, the way we played the first half an hour, I think was superb,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said. “We should have scored another one or two, we missed some chances. But (if) you want to win here, you have to dig in.”
Arsenal also needed two good saves from goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to maintain the lead.
Ramsdale first reacted quickly to palm away a close-range header from Odsonne Edouard in the 42nd minute, then got down low to block a shot from Eberechi Eze in the 54th.
“Aaron did incredibly well and he won the game for us,” Arteta said.