Crystal Palace vs Arsenal predictions: Vieira's Eagles can bring Arsenal down to earth
Selhurst Park plays host to the opening match of the 2022-23 Premier League season as Crystal Palace welcome Arsenal for a Friday night curtain-raiser.
Both teams have enjoyed promising pre-seasons with Gunners supporters excited by a flurry of big-name signings and goal-laden performances while the Eagles continue their impressive evolution under Patrick Vieira.
But now it is time for the real deal.
Friendly results will count for nothing once referee Anthony Taylor blows his whistle and Arsenal fans would likely have picked almost any ground other than Selhurst Park in which to begin their top-four tilt.
With former favourite Vieira building something special and the home crowd in full voice, Mikel Arteta’s visitors will know they have it all to do against their biggest bogey team of recent seasons.
Vieira has only Vicente Guaita available among his pool of senior goalkeepers, with new signing Sam Johnstone and last season’s back-up stopper Jack Butland both injured.
Midfielder James McArthur is out with a groin injury, Michael Olise is a couple of weeks away from fitness and James Tomkins is sidelined with a calf problem.
However, new signing Cheick Doucoure is likely to slot straight into a defensive midfield position and Eberechi Eze has had a full pre-season to prepare him for a place in the midfield three.
Up front, Odsonne Edouard looks favourite to lead the line after starting and scoring twice in Palace’s final warm-up match of pre-season.
Arsenal manager Arteta has a handful of selection dilemmas with Kieran Tierney, Emile Smith Rowe, Takehiro Tomiyasu and new signing Fabio Vieira all in a race to be fit.
However, after spending over £100million beefing up the squad this summer, Arteta has quality reserves in most areas and he is likely to hand debuts to former Manchester City pair Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus.
Jesus’ seven strikes in five friendly appearances for the Gunners will have helped him settle in London but the Brazilian striker has never scored more than 14 league goals in a season.
Palace will be no pushovers either with the Gunners winning one and drawing five of their last eight meetings with the Eagles.
Indeed, Palace thrashed Arsenal 3-0 at home last season and were unfortunate not to win at the Emirates in a game that finished 2-2 thanks to a 90th-minute equaliser from Alexandre Lacazette.
Arteta’s focus will surely be to make Arsenal more resilient on the road after his side conceded 31 away goals last term — more than any of the rest of the top 10, barring Manchester United and Leicester.
Arsenal come into the season full of confidence after some impressive pre-season performances.
However, Palace rarely give the Gunners an easy game and were impressive in their first season under Vieira.
The Frenchman will have been particularly proud of a home record that saw the Eagles lose just four times in Croydon, beating Tottenham (3-0), Arsenal (3-0) and United (1-0), as well as holding champions City to a 0-0 draw.
The Gunners lost four of their final six Premier League away games to nil last term and while confidence has since been bolstered by a buoyant pre-season, they may have to settle for a point.