A new season and a new, ruthless winning machine called Arsenal? Nobody would sensibly take things to such an extreme but this was a big improvement on the fare they were serving up a mere four months ago. Back then they were demolished here, losing 3-0 and simply failing to turn up; no such accusation could be levelled this time and, while there were enough wobbles to leave Crystal Palace feeling a draw would have been fair, the fact they steered home safely at a traditionally turbulent hunting ground can only augur well.
As opening games go this was intense, engaging fare in which both sides carried the fight admirably. A goal in each half settled things but perhaps the defining sequence, from an Arsenal perspective at least, came eight minutes after half-time when Wilfried Zaha was denied by the cleanest of tackles from William Saliba as he twisted towards the byline. An old foe had been bested by a newcomer to the league and it would not be the final time; Saliba was outstanding in his first game for Arsenal, three years after arriving from Saint-Etienne, and came into his own during waves of second-half pressure from the hosts. He will take some dislodging from their central defence now.