Mikel Arteta’s post-match celebration told the story after Arsenal’s win at Crystal Palace

They kicked off the Premier League with a statement of intent. And even the most cynical Arsenal fan cannot fail to be excited by this team.

The expectations have been building through pre-season after the arrival of £45m striker Gabriel Jesus in the summer and they have been under the spotlight in Amazon’s All Or Nothing documentary. Normally that is a recipe for disaster when it comes to Arsenal because they have a habit of blowing up when you are expecting big things.

But whereas 12 months ago they got off to a nightmare start after defeat at Brentford on a Friday night season opener, this time they showed resilience as well as attacking quality.

Gabriel Martinelli scored the first goal of the 2022/23 Premier League season before Bukayo Saka’s cross was headed into his own net by unfortunate Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi.

But the victory was also about Arsenal’s determination and defiance which was typified by William Saliba who was majestic at the back.

France defender Saliba, who has been out on loan for the past two years, has had to wait a long time for his Arsenal debut but now you can see what all the fuss is about.

Saliba was outstanding at the heart of defence
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PA)

They also have know-how and a winning mentality all over the pitch as Jesus looked sharp on his debut, Oleksandr Zinchenko impressed before tiring in the second half while Aaron Ramsdale also made an important save at 1-0.

Mikel Arteta told the Arsenal fans to be excited and you can see why because they do look to have the quality and potential to push for a top four place this season. Incredibly, Arteta has now won 50 league matches as Arsenal manager after 98 games in charge, which makes him the second-quickest manager to reach that milestone after Arsenal Wenger who did it in 94 matches.

They now have an exciting attacking thrust but also a defensive backbone and, having slipped up at Selhurst Park last season when they blew the chance of finishing fourth, they will know victory at Palace is an impressive barometer.

Palace boss Patrick Vieira will probably feel hard done by as they pushed and pushed – but Arsenal resisted. Arsenal were much the better team in the first half hour and their opening goal was no more than they deserved.

Saka’s corner found Zinchenko unmarked at the back post, the £30m new boy headed back across goal in what was very obviously a well rehearsed routine. Then Martinelli headed in with a close range header.

It was lift-off for Arsenal.

The Gunners celebrate Gabriel Martinelli’s opener
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REUTERS)

Ramsdale’s kicking got a few nerves jangling but he made amends with a smart save Odsonne Edouard’s header.

And if ever there was proof the Premier League was back, it came with a booking for Granit Xhaka. He collects yellow cards like they are going out of fashion but this one was for a needless and silly dive in the heart of midfield.

You would expect a strong reaction from Palace. It was their first home game of the season and, sure enough, they upped their game after the restart. Wilfried Zaha played in Eberechi Eze but Ramsdale made a brilliant block.

Arsenal were under the cosh, but held firm and then Saka raced forward, put over a cross shot and Guehi deflected into his own net to spark wild celebrations in the away end.

Arteta celebrated a big win at the final whistle because he knows this victory should set the tone for a big season.

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