Arsenal have looked sharp in pre-season, and Mikel Arteta holds high expectations for the new Premier League campaign.
The Gunners missed out on Champions League football at the end of last season, with capitulations against Tottenham and Newcastle United allowing their north London rivals to claim fourth spot.
Yet they have bolstered their squad ahead of 2022-23, bringing in Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira to immediately improve their first-team options.
“It’s great that people are excited but there’s a lot of excitement across the Premier League because a lot of clubs have done a lot of business, getting stronger and stronger, and the competition is really big. We’re focusing on what we want to do, and we want to be at the top of that table,” said Arteta ahead of Friday’s opening game at Crystal Palace.
Striker Jesus has been in fine scoring form in pre-season, and Arteta is excited at what is to come from the Brazil international.
Arteta said: “He’s an enormous talent and a player with a mentality that’s so contagious and is going to give us a lot.”
Palace enjoyed a strong season under Patrick Vieira, though the Arsenal great is still holding out hope of bringing in more players to strengthen his squad.
“It’s important to keep stability to grow as a team and try to improve the squad, a couple of players came on and that will give us more challenges,” he said. “We want players to make it difficult for me to choose the XI. We are short on numbers but I believe we can be more competitive than last year.
“The game tomorrow will be important for us to start as well as we can.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha
Palace’s talisman Wilfried Zaha was often cited as a target for Arsenal, but the winger has stayed put at Selhurst Park and last season scored 14 league goals, the best single-season return of his career.
Arsenal – Gabriel Jesus
Jesus is set to make his Premier League debut for Arsenal in this game – the Gunners have had more different Brazilian goalscorers than any other side in the competition (11). Meanwhile, the former Manchester City man has been involved in seven goals in his last seven league games (six goals, one assist).
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This is the third consecutive season Arsenal are starting their Premier League campaign with a London derby. They won 3-0 at Fulham in 2020-21, before losing 2-0 at Brentford in 2021-22’s season opener.
– Palace have won their opening top-flight league match in only five of their previous 22 seasons (D7 L10), although they have won two of their last four (D1 L1), beating Fulham in 2018-19 and Southampton in 2020-21.
– Arsenal have had more players sent off in their opening game of a Premier League campaign than any other side (six), most recently Laurent Koscielny against Aston Villa in 2013-14. Crystal Palace have had just one such red card, though this did come against Arsenal on the opening day of the 2014-15 campaign.
– Palace ended the 2021-22 Premier League campaign unbeaten in six home games (W3 D3), while keeping a clean sheet in each of the last five. The Eagles last had a longer unbeaten home run in the top-flight between March-August 1992, while they’ve never kept six consecutive home clean sheets in the top division.
– None of Arsenal’s last 17 Premier League games have ended level (W11 L6). It is the longest ongoing run without a draw in the competition among the 20 current sides, while only once have the Gunners had a longer such run (25 between January and October 2018).