It feels like a long time since we last played a competitive match. Hammering Everton at home on that sunny May Sunday a hazy, distant memory. In reality this has been a short pre-season. One has seen exciting new arrivals and a successful campaign across different continents. But the fact is that tonight, it gets serious, we go again.
There’s normally a buzz around the start of the season but this year the buzz and excitement feels very different. The way we saw the team play sometimes last season and the additions this summer make it hard not to be. The energy Jesus has brought to our front line means we’re a very different prospect this year. Slotting in either behind him or at left back Zinchenko came in as a surprise to me. Jesus made sense for all but that one feels like it could be a massive signing. The Ukrainian also gives us much needed cover at left back for Tierney. Will Saliba also feels like a new signing, as cliche as it sounds.
In terms of team news it sounds like we’ll be without one of: Tierney, Tomiyasu, Vieira or ESR. The general consensus is that Smith-Rowe is the one who will miss out tonight. There are pictures of Tomiyasu in training yesterday so we can be pretty sure it’s not him. Aside from that we have a full bill of health meaning that I expect us to start with the same eleven that battered Sevilla last weekend.
We all know what Palace will bring and Selhurst Park under the lights on the first Friday of a season is going to be rocking. Over the years so many top teams have faltered in evening games there. It’ll be loud, aggressive and intimidating. But we all know that and so do our boys. Palace have rarely been a kind team to us, in fact we often struggle against them, especially away. If however we can impose our game and feed Jesus and co. we could come away very happy indeed.
There’s not much more to say. Pre-season is over, confined to the past. Tonight it counts, tonight it matters. The Premier League is back! The Arsenal are back! See you at Selhurst Park.