Arsenal overcame a tricky test to secure a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace to make it two wins from two in the Premier League.
A penalty from Martin Odegaard was enough to secure the three points at Selhurst Park in what was a gritty performance from the Gunners.
It was a great day at the office for Arsenal
GettyMikel Arteta will be delighted by the Gunners’ gritty performance[/caption]
Palace may have fallen short, but it was a performance that certainly indicated that brighter days may be ahead.
Here’s what we learned from the Monday night clash in south London.
While we always love the football to do the talking, the clash at Selhurst Park was sadly decided by a number of refereeing decisions.
With the scores level at 0-0, a free-kick on the edge of the area saw Arsenal get their breakthrough as Gabriel Martinelli took a quick kick to find Eddie Nketiah who was brought down by Sam Johnstone.
VAR decided that Thomas Partey had not committed a foul in the build-up and so the penalty stood, giving Martin Odegaard the perfect opportunity to put his side ahead.
But if the penalty decision was one that went in their favour, Arsenal were made to suffer thanks to Takehiro Tomiyasu’s red card.
The defender was first booked for wasting time at a throw-in – albeit after taking just eight seconds to take the throw, when Kai Havertz took twice as long immediately before him.
He was then sent off for an alleged pull on Jordan Ayew, however replays suggested that the second yellow card was soft at best.
Tomiyasu was giving his marching orders to add more strain to Arteta’s defensive dilemmaGetty
Thankfully for the Gunners, they managed to see out the win, but they won’t be happy at all at the suspension picked up by Tomiyasu given their already thread-bare defence.
Arsenal’s left-back curse continues
The sending off of Tomiyasu was the last thing that Arteta needed, particularly given their defensive woes.
Jurrien Timber suffered what is set to be a long-term knee injury in the Premier League opener againstNottingham Forest, while the Japanese star will now face a one-match ban.
Oleksandr Zinchenko came on as a second half substitute, but he is still not fit to start a match, while Kieran Tierney was omitted from the matchday squad for a second game running.
The Scottish defender was a key topic of conversation in the build-up to the Palace clash, with Arteta suggesting that there was no issue with the former Celtic man.
However with Arsenal selecting right-backs Timber and Tomiyasu on ahead of him this term, it suggests that he’s not exactly highly thought of.
Whether that will change now that options are dropping like flies remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt that the left side of defence is proving to be a problem position already.
Tierney can’t seem to get a look in with the Gunners right nowGetty
The Gunners have a reputation for being a side who are slick in attack but possess a soft underbelly.
That couldn’t be further from the truth under Mikel Arteta.
While last season was a marked improvement, the addition of Declan Rice is already looking like a masterstroke due to the physical, mental and technical attributes that he brings to the side.
Certain supporters raised an eyebrow at the £105million fee paid to sign Rice from West Ham, but his display against Palace showed that he could be worth every penny.
With a 90 per cent pass accuracy, 68 touches and seven passes into the final third, he was key in aiding Arsenal’s attacking efforts, while winning three duels, winning possession four times and with one tackle and interception apiece, it’s clear why fans are raving about his impact.
The season is young and tests will become bigger and much more stern as the campaign progresses, but early signs are that Rice may just be the missing piece of the puzzle in north London.
Rice is becoming a true leader for ArsenalGetty
It was a hugely impressive performance by Rice who is showing why Arsenal paid £105m for him
Palace are top ten contenders
It may have been a night that ended in defeat, but the Eagles are more than capable of flying this season.
Roy Hodgson’s side were more than a match for Arsenal, enjoying 46 per cent possession, 14 shots, with two of those on target.
Those numbers suggest that a lack of quality in attack may have cost them, but while that might be true, there are plenty of reasons to be positive at the club.
Attacking stars such as Eberechi Eze and the soon-to-be returning Michael Olise are a match for anyone in the league and with Odsonne Edouard proving his abilities as a prolific goalscorer with Celtic, it feels like just a matter of time until things start to click.
Palace will have many easier matches than Arsenal to contest in the weeks to come and it’ll be a huge surprise if their quality doesn’t shine through as the season plays out.
AFPHodgson will be pleased by his side’s display despite Palace’s defeat[/caption]
Eddie Nketiah is taking his chance
The absence of Gabriel Jesus is one that would be felt by any club in world football, but my word, is Eddie Nketiah taking his opportunity.
After scoring against Nottingham Forest last week in a game when he could have had more, the 24-year-old showed at Selhurst Park that he’s more than capable of being a reliable performer.
Okay, he missed a couple of wonderful chances in the first half and as a clinical poacher that is something that will weigh heavy on him.
But Nketiah offers much more than just goals.
Nketiah caused all sorts of problems for PalaceGetty
His quick thinking was what won a penalty for Arsenal, allowing Odegaard to convert to make it 1-0.
He might be gutted that he couldn’t make it back to back games with a Premier League goal to his name, but Nketiah is certainly proving to Arteta that he’s capable of being a vital player in the Arsenal team.