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PREVIEW: Arsenal v Palace: Team News, Starting XI + Prediction
Arsenal take on Crystal Palace at the Emirates this evening as the new season gets under way.
We were handed a huge boost on the eve of the game with Tony Pulis leaving Palace after a clash with chairman Steve Parish over their transfer plans.
Pulis performed miracles last season, taking Palace from bottom of the table in November to 11th place, and he put together a very well organised side, so hopefully they will be adversely affected by his exit tonight.
Arsenal head into the new season with a huge monkey off our back after lifting the FA Cup back in May. The next step is to put in a real challenge for the title and we weren’t too far away last season, as we sat top of the table for longer than any other side before injuries took their tole during the closing stages.
The signings of Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers and David Ospina has strengthened the squad, but hopefully Arsene will bring us a couple of surprises during the final two weeks of the window to make us a real contender this season.
Arsene confirmed yesterday that Laurent Koscielny is available after recovering from an Achilles problem that he picked up against Manchester City last week.
The Frenchman will be partnered by Calum Chambers in defence as Per Mertesacker isn’t under consideration yet as he’s only had a few days training this week after arriving back late following his World Cup exploits.
Lukas Podolski and Mesut Ozil are also unavailable for the same reason so they join Theo Walcott, Serge Gnabry and Ryo Miyaichi on the sidelines.
Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy should make their competitive debuts, but David Ospina is out for two weeks with a thigh strain.
This is the team I’d like to see Arsene go with, but I expect him to start Olivier Giroud and Mikel Arteta instead of Joel Campbell and The Ox.
No doubt we’ve been handed a major boost with Pulis leaving and I can see us registering a routine win this evening. The side has been getting better and better in pre-season and as long as we keep it together at the back, we should have way too much firepower for the visitors to handle.
So I’m going with Arsenal to win 3-0 and kick the season off in style.