We dug in to make it two wins from two at the start of the new season, by beating Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park, despite playing the last 30 minutes, including injury time, with 10 men.
Here are five things we noticed from our first away game of the campaign:
Odegaard on the spot
Having missed his last spot kick at the end of last season away to West Ham United, Bukayo Saka was relieved of penalty duties, and captain Martin Odegaard took the responsibility from 12 yards. Saka had scored all four of his penalties before missing the target at the London Stadium last April, but also missed against Barcelona in pre-season from the spot.
After enjoying a perfect record in shootouts in pre-season, including in the Community Shield win at Wembley, Odegaard spoke in his programme notes last weekend about how he was ready to take the role if needed.
"I scored a couple in pre-season, and last season in the shootout against Sporting too,” he said, “but I’ve never really been a penalty taker for any of my previous teams to be honest. It’s something I practise a lot though, and I would feel ready if I got the chance to take them in a game. I enjoy the responsibility and pressure so I’m always ready to step up. But we have plenty of good penalty takers already in the team!”
The last time he scored a penalty in a league game was for Vitesse against De Graafschap in the Eredivise in May 2019. After 15 goals last season from midfield, our skipper is up and running again, and he’s now the third player in the Premier League, after Harry Kane and Erling Haaland, to score at least 10 away goals in the league since the start of last season.
Saka’s staying power
Bukayo Saka has now featured in each of our last 82 Premier League games in a row, equalling a club record that has stood since 1997. Paul Merson also played 82 consecutive league games, between February 1995 and February 1997, and Saka has now matched that run in the ultra-intense, high-paced more modern game.
He’s played every single game over the past two full seasons – the last time he didn’t feature for us was May 2, 2021 – when he was an unused sub away to Newcastle United. He started 78 of those 82 games, and won 53 of them, scoring 25 goals in the process, and adding 19 assists. He finished his participation in this game as a left wing-back, somewhere he played in the early days of his Gunners career.
Third on the list of consecutive appearances for us is Gael Clichy, with 78 – a run that ended in 2009. Fourth on this particular list is Gabriel Magalhaes, who came on as a second-half sub to take his current running tally to 75. However Bukayo is still a way off the all-time Premier League record – that’s held by Brad Friedel, who made 310 straight appearances between 2004 and 2012.
We had to overcome something of a Monday curse to take all three points at Selhurst Park. Before tonight, we’d lost all four of our away Premier League games played on a Monday night.
The last such fixture was the 2-0 defeat at St James’ Park in May 2022 that all but ended our top-four hopes that season. Prior to that, we lost 3-0 at Palace in April 2022, 2-1 at Everton in December 2021 and 3-1 at Liverpool in October 2020. The last time we won on the road in the Premier League Monday fixture was actually under Freddie Ljungberg, in December 2019 – the only game we won under the Swede. However we did win our only away fixture on a Monday last season – that was in the FA Cup, when we saw off Oxford United 3-0.
Takehiro Tomiyasu’s red card in the 67th minute was the first dismissal for us after a run of 41 games without one. We went through the entirety of the last season without a red in any competition, but our Japanese defender was shown two yellow cards in the space of six minutes here.
The first was for the new clampdown on timewasting, referee David Coote adjudged he took too long over a throw-in, and the second was for an apparent pull back on Jordan Ayew. Replays showed it was a soft decision at best, but VAR can only review straight red cards. Tomi became the 59th different Arsenal player to be sent off in the Premier League, only Everton (65) have had more different players sent off in the competition.
We are now unbeaten in 13 consecutive London derbies in the league, winning 11 of them. It’s our longest unbeaten run in such fixtures since the 35 we racked up between 2001 and 2005.
It’s back-to-back wins for us at Selhurst Park too, after winning our first away game of last season here.
It was also Roy Hodgson’s first league defeat at home since he returned as manager in April, winning three and drawing two of those five games. Indeed Palace have been a real force under the experienced manager since he returned, they had picked up more points than we had in that period, as a measure of the success they have enjoyed.
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