In their first game of the 2014-15 Premier League season, Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at the Emirates stadium after a late goal from Aaron Ramsey. Palace did extremely well to frustrate Arsenal for the initial 90 minutes before Ramsey finally scored in added time.
The game showed some of the good of Arsenal, but some of the bad also, and improvements will still need to be made over the coming weeks. It will have been no surprise to Arsenal that Palace were defensive and sat very deep, but it was still a tactic that gave Arsenal a lot of trouble throughout the game.
There was no tempo to the Arsenal passing for large spells and the Gunners looked slightly deflated as the clock ticked past the 80-minute mark and the game seemingly looked like it was heading for a draw. Arsenal should have been bombarding the Palace defense, but the attacks were ponderous and the midfield struggled to involve the striker, whether it was Yaya Sanogo who started the game, or Olivier Giroud who entered as a substitute.
The midfield is still unbalanced from last season too, and that will be in an obvious issue against teams with a bigger attacking threat than Palace have. Mikel Arteta is a good player, but Arsenal need a more physical, athletic, dominant and defensively aware holding midfielder than the Spaniard is. That is what Arsene Wenger still needs to be looking towards in the transfer market before the window closes at the end of this month.
On the training ground, there is work to be done too. The link play between Arsenal’s attacking midfielders was not to the level it usually is, and that could very be because it is only the first game, but most of these players already know each other and they have been playing well in preseason before now.
Brede Hangeland scored from a corner kick to give Palace the lead, and having been good at defending set pieces last season, Arsenal will want to get back to that in the next game. Arsenal obviously did manage to win the game in the end, and that is the most important thing. However, the Gunners will clearly still need to improve from this game if they are to pick up any of the major trophies in which they covet this season.