There's still a couple of weeks to go in the current transfer window and it looks like Arsenal will be busy during that time. After the sale of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona this week there is a real pressing need for another central defender in the squad and there's still a possibility of a defensive midfielder being added too. That central defensive issue will not be too pressing today hopefully, as Laurent Koscielny has recovered from the minor knock he picked up in the Community Shield victory over City last Sunday.
Arsenal looked very good in that game despite missing Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski. None of those players will be available today either with the German trio having just returned from their World Cup triumph and Walcott not quite ready yet after his injury last Janurary. I'm not sure if any of the three German players will be available this month and that's a little worrying with five games to play in two weeks.
There are still plenty of players available though and I expect Arsene Wenger will go with the same starting 11 as that which was so convincing against City with the possible exception of Oliver Giroud replacing Yaya Sanogo up front. Sanogo played well but I expect the boss to go with the striker he considers to be his first choice. I can't imagine he will rest players ahead of the trip to Besiktas on Tuesday night despite the importance of that game.
It's very important for Arsenal to win today to set themselves up for the challenges ahead. They lost the opening game at home to Villa last season and went on a good run after it, but they need to start off on the right foot to keep pace in what looks like being a very open title race. Every single Premier League point is very precious and the three on offer from Palace need to be grabbed with both hands.
Palace have been rocked this week with the departure of Tony Pulis after he worked wonders to save them from what looked like certain relegation last season. His departure came as a real surprise and who knows how the players are going to deal with it so close to the start of the season. If it has a negative effect on them Arsenal need to take advantage of that, but it's a game Arsenal should be winning anyway. Despite their heroics towards the end of last season Palace are still a limited team and Arsenal have more than enough quality to dispose of them.
I don't doubt that Palace will try to put pressure on a slightly makeshift Arsenal defence, but they have to get the ball first and that won't be easy for them. The chances are they will sit deep and try to defend in numbers and hope to score on the break or from a set piece. They won't find it easy to deal with the quality of players like Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez though and it could be a long hard afternoon for Palace.
I think Arsenal will win by a couple of goals at least and I won't be surprised to see Ramsey get his name on the scoresheet. It's impossible to know how the team might have fared if both he and Walcott hadn't picked up injuries around the same time in December/Janurary and he will be a vitally important player this season once he can stay fit. Arsenal's injuries over the last few seasons have been awful, but there seems to be genuine hope that they can be handled better this season.
The players will be straight back into action after the game as they're off to Tukey for the first leg of their Champions League qualifier. Arsenal have fared really well at this stage of the competition over the years and have always gone through with at least a couple of goals to spare over the two legs. It's really important for them to qualify again this season with the revenue the competition brings in as well it's ability to attract top class players to the club.
There's a nasty international break at the start of September, but it would be great for Arsenal to head into that break with a place in the group stages of the Champions League and seven or maybe even nine Premier League points. By the time the players come back from the break the squad should be at almost full strength to face the challenges ahead of them. The future is looking very bright at the moment and the players need to cash in on that feeling over the next few weeks starting with Palace today.
Finally for today I'm running my league in Fantasy Premier League yet again this season and there will be a prize of €50 for the winner now that there's over 1,000 teams in it. To join just go to the site and use the code 13125-4843 to join my league once your team is set up.
Absolutely finally for today I'm also running my predictor league again this season. I'll be previewing every Premier League game every week throughout the season too. You can make your predictions here and then join my mini league with the code FD20D-AVD after you have set everything up.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.