Arsenal travel south of the Thames to face Crystal Palace for the opening game of the 2022/23 Premier League season.
The competition’s chief executive Richard Masters signposted the start of a new campaign by declaring: “Let the soap opera begin.” However, Arsenal have put the cameras away for the upcoming term after Amazon documented their previous, ultimately underwhelming, season.
Here’s the first Premier League XI for a year Mikel Arteta can name without a lens directed at his well-gelled hair.
GK: Aaron Ramsdale – The England understudy was lumbered with the nickname “Boris” while on international duty. However, while the inspiration for his sobriquet lost his post over the summer, Ramsdale is still firmly Arsenal’s number one.
RB: Ben White – Arsenal’s calamitous curtain-raiser last season prompted glee from all corners of the internet, with White bearing the brunt after a debut to forget. One year on, the defender simply can’t endure a night quite so troubling – can he?
CB: William Saliba – 1,107 days after officially signing for Arsenal, Saliba may be in line for his Premier League debut.
CB: Gabriel Magalhaes – It took until November for Gabriel to lose his first Premier League game last season.
LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko – With Kieran Tierney’s fitness reliably unreliable once again, the former Manchester City man could make his competitive debut for the Gunners.
CM: Martin Odegaard – At just 23, Arsenal’s new club captain is the club’s youngest permanent skipper since Cesc Fabregas wore the armband at 21.
CM: Thomas Partey – The Ghana international rated the first 18 months of his Arsenal career a four out of ten last December. But he was only worthy of a two on his previous trip to Selhurst Park.
CM: Granit Xhaka – Handed more attacking impetus as the season wore on, Xhaka averaged more touches in the final third than the departed striking duo of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last term (per FBref).
RW: Bukayo Saka – Arsenal’s shining beacon of consistent quality was the only player to feature in all 38 Premier League matches last season – a streak he will surely extend this weekend.
ST: Gabriel Jesus – No matter how many caveats preseason demands, the sight of a team’s new striker rattling off seven goals in his first five (uncompetitive) games for the club is dangerously exciting.
LW: Gabriel Martinelli – Arsenal’s new number 11 will hope to lean more towards Robin van Persie than Andre Santos following his “promotion” to the first team squad this summer.