As Arsenal return from the second international break of a season in its infancy, the focus will turn to keeping the undefeated streak going for another Premier Leauge week against Crystal Palace. Mikel Arteta will find himself up against Patrick Vieira, another former Arsenal player like himself, who remembers the days of Arsene Wenger as vividly as the Spaniard himself can.
While the Frenchman is no longer playing, he has some very talented players and, with time, should be able to get a real solid team out of Palace.
They will not be too easy forever, and this match could very well be a prime example as to why; new striker Odsonne Edouard will be brilliant in the Premier League for as many years as he wishes to stay in it, and paired with the likes of Wilfried Zaha, assuming he doesn’t still wish to flee, could provide a great deal of trouble for teams moving forward.
This also doesn’t take into consideration the other great players that the club have, like forwards Michael Olise and Jordan Ayew. Palace, when they become properly balanced and comfortable in the roles the boss has picked out for them, will be a really fun team to watch each weekend. For this weekend, however, I do not think Palace will find much joy, and if they do, it will surely mean that the Gunners have found little themselves.
Arsenal: Throwing stones through a Crystal Palace as the two sides meet in the Premier League on Monday
What would Queen Victoria say? For the Gunners to take three points at the Emirates against Palace, Arteta will have to get his squad to attack without the fear that gripped them at Brighton.
Over the summer, Arteta and Edu replaced the right side of the defense, as well as the goalkeeper. With the addition of Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu, working with Kieran Tierney and Gabriel Magalhaes, Aaron Ramsdale has a really strong, fluid, and functional front ahead of him.
While Granit Xhaka has found new life with Arteta next to Thomas Partey, his absence remains difficult for the Gunners to deal with; as was seen against Brighton and Graham Potter before this last international break, it will take time before Albert Sambi Lokonga can consistently fill the Swiss’ shoes at the base of the midfield.
Lokonga and Ainsley Maitland-Niles will do well in rotation until Xhaka comes back, however, and their gained experience will really be beneficial as the season continues onward. Young Martin Odegaard on the other hand, is ready for this moment right now, and has been playing like it; the Norwegian international appears full of passion now that he is finally wanted and able to play match in and match out.
He has been a breath of fresh air creatively speaking, and when alongside the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, the trio are really something to see. For Arsenal and their boss it will be necessary for both Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli to become as comfortable with Odegaard as Saka and Smith Rowe have become with him.
With these players all working at peak, optimal performance, the wiley veteran Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will find it much easier to poach goal opportunities created by the roving bands of speedy, fluid Arsenal attackers streaking up the pitch.
Arsenal wishes to get to where Manchester City is in regards to their shape and approach. If they can play their game as they wish to play it, while making other teams and outfits have to react to what they already knew was coming, then Arsenal will really be onto something, and will be very difficult to stop, even against some of the better clubs in the Premier League.
As against the top teams in England, the confidence of that backline will be so crucial in determining whether the Gunners will be able to compete with the attack-minded Crystal Palace when they see one another over the weekend.
This run that the team is currently on has swept away questions pertaining to the future status of their boss, and has turned the attention squarely towards what is being built, and what, in the best-case scenarios, it could all mean for the future of the club.
This is a really positive innovation, as everyone, I think, would like to believe in Arteta and the process that he is attempting to take this team through. This metamorphosis must be fully on display once again when Palace comes to north London for a capital derby, as this team led by Vieira are ready to show that they’re growing too, and three points against a surging Arsenal would be a great way to get everyone else’s attention as the second international break of this season ends, and the third run of matches begins.