76 min “Anything can change and everything is possible,” says Yash Gupta, “but as expected this Arsenal team doesn’t look threatening.”
That’s a bit harsh.
75 min Another Palace substitution. Luka Milivojevic replaces the tiring Doucoure in midfield.
74 min Doucoure has cramp. which allows all the other players to have a drink.
73 min “Roberto Firmino by an absolute country mile,” says my colleague John Windmill, replying to Joe Johnson’s question after 68 minutes. “Firminho or even Firminio. Drives me (and by extension, my wife) up the wall.”
72 min Zaha cuts inside from the left and has a shot blocked by White.
72 min Here’s that chance for Eze at the start of the second half. The pass from Zaha, a sudden thrust of the dagger, was delicious.
71 min Andersen has played some majestic passes tonight, particularly out to Zaha on the left.
70 min White plays a terrific pass inside Mitchell to find Saka. He moves into the area, but Mitchell recovers well and eventually Saka sprays high and wide from a very tight angle.
68 min “Hi Rob,” says Joe Johnson. “The beginning of a new season, the mind limber, craving stimulation. Reliably informed by a Norwegian friend that Ødegaard should be pronounced ‘Erdegord’. I wonder: which Premier League footballer’s name is the most egregiously mispronounced?”
I have no idea, but am reminded of when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had a shot at goal for Manchester United, and the (usually) great ITV commentator Brian Moore shouted “Shoals!” What made it even more impressive is that Paul Scholes wasn’t on the pitch at the time.
66 min Schlupp collects a loose ball, surges into the area and has a shot blocked by Partey. If Arsenal don’t win this game they will lament a slightly passive second-half performance.
64 min For half an hour it looked like Arsenal would run away with this; since then it’s been a very even game. Meanwhile, Clyne is booked for a foul on Martinelli.
62 min A Palace corner leads to a scramble in the area, with Ramsdale saving a shank from his own player Gabriel. It wouldn’t have counted because Anthony Taylor had blown for something or other.
60 min White is booked for a foul on the increasingly influential Zaha.
59 min: Chance for Odegaard! Jesus steals the ball off the dawdling Guehi and charges into space down the right. He squares it to Odegaard just inside the area, but Odegaard inexplicably tries to find Martinelli when he should go for goal himself. The ball deflects to Jesus in an offside position, and he has a shot blocked by Andersen. Jesus’s shot wouldn’t have counted; Odegaard’s would, if only he’d had one.
58 min The first of many, many, many, many substitutions in this Premier League season: Jean-Philippe Mateta replaces the disappointing Odsonne Edouard up front for Palace.
56 min Odegaard whips it over the wall and a few yards wide of the near post. A decent effort.
55 min Mitchell fouls Saka 22 yards from goal, a fair way to the right of centre. Odegaard might fancy this…
53 min Zaha’s cross hits White and deflects onto his arm. No penalty. Zaha retrieves the ball, beats White in the area and is emphatically tackled by Saliba. He’s having an excellent debut. And Zaha, after a slow start, looks bang up for this.
51 min: Good save by Ramsdale! Saka’s corner is headed away by Andersen and Palace break. Edouard loses the ball, but Palace win it back straight away and Zaha puts Eze through on goal with a gorgeous angled pass. Eze takes an assured touch, opens his body but then slides his shot straight at Ramsdale’s legs.
51 min Odegaard’s shot from the edge of the area deflects behind for a corner…
50 min Palace have started the second half well, picking up where they left off at the break.
47 min Schlupp makes room for a long-range shot that hits Gabriel and spins behind for a corner. It’s swung in by Eze and dropped by Ramsdale, who is grateful to grab it at the second attempt.
47 min Ayew’s cross is missed by Saliba and hits White, prompting appeals for a penalty from the Palace fans, if not the players. Nothing doing.
46 min Peep peep! Arsenal begin the second half.
Meanwhile, in Germany
“Good to see Xhaka has started the season in the usual form,” says Rachel Clifton. “Now that David Luiz has gone, he brings that edge to the Arsenal team: which version will show up – the good player or the absolute [redacted]?”
Peep peep! Arsenal lead through Gabriel Martinelli’s close-range header. They started thrillingly, with Gabriel Jesus looking superb, but Palace slowly came into the game and Odsonne Edouard had a couple of chances just before the break.
45 min Edouard has two shots blocked in the space of five seconds, the second by Xhaka in the six-yard box. Very good defending. This is Palace’s best spell of the game, by a distance.
44 min Xhaka is booked for diving. He’s not having it, but it looked a good decision by Anthony Taylor.
43 min “What constitutes handball?” says Mary Waltz. “It’s like the phrase ‘salt to taste’ in a recipe. For some a teaspoon, others a cup.”
42 min: Good save by Ramsdale! A few lively challenges near the halfway line, culminating in a foul by White on Zaha. The free-kick is driven beyond the far post by Eze towards Andersen. He powers a header back across goal that finds Edouard, whose stooping header is too close to Ramsdale. It was still a good save from Ramsdale, diving to his right, but Edouard should have given him no chance.
40 min “Re: summer night fixtures – those early rounds of the Intertoto Cup were perfect for those kinds of games, especially against Scandinavian teams,” says Alex Adams. “That evening sunlight just mixes perfectly with floodlights; the grass almost glows.”
Damn it. I had 12 December in the ‘first Intertoto Cup mention in the MBM’ sweep.
39 min It’s a closer game now. Arsenal still look comfortable but Palace are having an even share of possession and have started getting some joy from Andersen’s long passes.
37 min Clyne takes a loose ball off the toe of Xhaka in the Palace area. It feels like a second Arsenal goal, even at this stage, would probably kill the game.
35 min Palace appeal unsuccessfully for a penalty when a high ball drops onto the slightly outstretched arm of Gabriel. I thought VAR might look at it, because his forearm seemed to be away from his body, but I haven’t a clue about handball any more.
32 min Andersen’s long pass is pulled down deftly by Zaha. He runs at White in the area, twisting one way and then the other, but Saka comes on his blindside to nick the ball. Good defending.
32 min Palace are having a slightly better spell, sparked by that Ramsdale clearance. But Arsenal still look very comfortable in defence.
30 min “I am watching the game and I am just so impressed by Zinchenko so far,” says Olivier Cardon. “Smart, quick, safe… Probably easier to stand out here than in City’s sea of talents and Pep’s hyper-precise tactics… He can really be a game changer for Arsenal. And Jesus ain’t bad either.”
And he’s not even playing in his best position. You’ll have great options in midfield when Tierney is fit to play at left-back.
29 min A dodgy clearance from Ramsdale hits Edouard but rebounds safely to Gabriel. If nothing else, that might stir the Palace crowd.
28 min “Do you or anyone else love a night match when it’s still light outside for a lot of it?” says Ruth Purdue. “Summer ending or springtime?”
Absolutely, especially European knockout games. I remember those.
26 min Jesus turns Andersen thrillingly on the halfway line, then seems to be pulled back. Anthony Taylor gives nothing.
26 min Here’s the opening goal from Gabriel Martinelli.
26 min “Just a quick note to say how much I like the Arsenal kit,” says Andy Bradshaw. “Is the colour called ‘red pants left in wash’?”
It is now!
25 min Zaha’s cross towards Edouard is cut out by Saliba. Palace look a bit tentative in attack.
23 min Arsenal have had 66 per cent of the possession and five shots to Palace’s none.
22 min Jesus wriggles past a couple of players in the area before being dispossessed. “He looks sharp,” purrs Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports. His touch and movement have been first-class.
It came from a training-ground corner on the right. Saka curled it very deep to the unmarked Zinchenko, who cleverly ran into space beyond the far post. He headed it back across goal, and Martinelli’s softish header from six yards went through Guaita.
Arsenal take a deserved lead!