Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has nailed three transfer decisions and Palace win proved it

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Two goals, three points, a clean sheet. Arsenal’s Premier League season got off to a fine start at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace on Friday night, even though the Eagles might’ve felt their second half warranted more. It was an opening weekend victory for Arsenal in which, even after just 90 competitive minutes, Mikel Arteta is already being proven right over three transfer decisions.

It was Gabriel Martinelli who headed in to break the deadlock before Marc Guehi inadvertently flicked in Bukayo Saka’s cross to make it 2-0. But the three debutants – William Saliba, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus – impressed as much as anyone on the pitch.

Zinchenko supplied the assist for Martinelli’s goal from a clever first-half corner, heading back across the six-yard box for the Brazilian to flick in. Playing at left-back, the Ukrainian won five tackles and played two key passes.

No player had more touches in an Arsenal shirt than his 72 and Arteta’s team benefitted greatly from having a player so comfortable in possession and adept at getting into advanced areas down the left.

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Zinchenko has slotted in seamlessly and can be a big player for the north Londoners this season, with minutes in midfield also likely throughout the campaign. The other summer signing from Manchester City – Jesus – was also sharp throughout. The Gunners’ new No 9 was a constant flurry of fizzing energy up top and showcased excellent movement.

He looks primed to offer the team exactly what Alexandre Lacazette couldn’t last season. Both Jesus and Zinchenko appear ideal acquisitions who suit Arteta’s demands perfectly. Conclusions can of course be drawn prematurely but they have already proven their talents at City. They will surely be £75million well spent.

Elsewhere, Arteta has copped a lot of flak throughout his time at the Emirates for his management of Saliba. Yet the French defender has clearly benefitted from regular game time on loan in France. He was the Man of the Match against Palace.

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Sky Sports commentator Jamie Carragher, the former Liverpool centre-half, labelled him “the real deal” and noted: “He just looks the part.” The 21-year-old will face sterner tests but was composed, mature and intelligent in his defending and tidy with his distribution of the ball from the back.

His passing accuracy was a team-best 94 per cent while he won the ball back seven times and also cleared the ball seven times – mostly thanks to his astute positioning. This was only his first appearance for Arsenal but Saliba can be a game-changing player for the Gunners this year in their pursuit of Champions League qualification.

And while there will be ups and downs throughout the season, it is clear Arteta deserves credit for signing Jesus and Zinchenko and also for his part in Saliba’s development. It’s already clear Arsenal must hand the 21-year-old centre-back a new long-term contract. They will reap much reward from doing so.



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