It seems silly to write this post on the morning of our first home match day but about last weekends season opener away. But such is the world we live in. I arrived at Thornton Heath early last Friday and managed to wangle my way into a Palace pub, the doorman were friendly enough and the pub was rammed. There is always an air of anticipation about the first game of the season. Hopes, dreams and fears weigh heavily on all fanbases. The rest of my mob soon arrived and we made away to Selhurst Park.
The old Crystal Palace ground is many things: a throwback to the ‘good old days’, small, claustrophobic and in modern terms quite frankly embarrassing. Putting nostalgia to one side, trying to get in is a nightmare, once you’re inside it’s a nightmare and if you can see all of the pitch you should count yourself lucky. Incredibly once we reached the bar we were served quickly and I do think this is helped by the fact the staff are supplied by Arsenal but there was the familiar crush trying to get to our seats.
Something that has been noted about Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal is that we tend to start games very aggressively and that’s exactly what happened. We came tearing out the blocks and Palace just couldn’t cope. For the opening twenty minutes we were scarily good. When Jesus danced through the defence and the ball fell to Martinelli I was sure we were going to open our account. But the young Brazilian got it all wrong and his effort skewed wide off his heel. Luckily not long after a brilliantly worked corner routine provided the breakthrough. Zinchenko peeled away at the back post and headed it back across goal where Martinelli (as if to make amends) nodded the ball into the bottom corner. The away end erupted in that life affirming wall of noise and motion.
Palace switched tactics realising that they weren’t going to be able to pass through our lines and began lumping balls forward, one such prompted Ramsdale into a great save from a short range header but it was a warning. Early on the second half they created their best chance of the game, a diagonal ball sliced the defence in half and we can be thankful that Ramsdale was alert and Eze fluffed his lines a bit.
As the minutes crept by we started to get a bit twitchy, haven’t seen this story far too many times before. Our fears however were misplaced, Saka found himself in space and drove down the right. He fizzed the ball across the face of goal where a stopped Palace defender only succeeded in turning it into his own net. Limbs again in the away end! With the nerves settled the away end found its loudest voice of the night, serenading our former captain and hero in the opposition dugout.
Home sweet home?
Three big, well earned away points, a clean sheet and off the mark. Today we take on a Leicester side in a bit of a two and eight at the moment. This historically hasn’t been a kind fixture for us but today with belief and energy its a great chance to opener our home account and maintain that 100% record.