Premier League title chasers Arsenal began the 2023-24 season with mixed emotions on matchday one as the Gunners opened the new campaign with a 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest and former colleague Matt Turner.
But celebrations were muted across much of the fanbase after star summer signing Jurriën Timber limped off injured in the first half in what would ultimately be diagnosed as a serious ACL injury that will keep him out for most, if not all, of the season.
The Gunners looked bright throughout, but the only criticism in the aftermath could be simply summed up as Arteta’s troops were playing 3-0 football at 2-0, which allowed Forest back in the match just enough to make things interesting. But most importantly, both Declan Rice and Kai Havertz made their full league debuts and comported themselves well as part of a midfield three that also featured club captain Martin Ødegaard.
A matchday two clash with Crystal Palace awaits at Selhurst Park, with the Gunners posting a very credible 3-2-1 record against the Eagles in recent outings, which included a 2-0 and 4-1 win in both meetings last season. Palace can be tricky on any given day due to the quality in their team even without the recently departed Wilfried Zaha, but if Arsenal truly fancy themselves as title contenders, anything less than three points on Monday night can likely be classed as a disappointment.
Mikel Arteta is guaranteed to be without three members of the senior side on Monday night while questions remain over a handful of others as Arsenal looks to make it six points from six to open the campaign.
Dutch starlet Jurriën Timber has been ruled out for at least seven months due to his ACL injury suffered against Nottingham Forest, in what was a hammer blow to the club after his summer arrival from Ajax. Joining him in dry dock are Mohamed Elneny and Gabriel Jesus, with late fitness tests necessary to gauge the availability of Oleksandr Zinchenko, Sambi Lokonga, and Folarin Balogun.
Expect Arteta to likely name an unchanged XI that ran out winners on matchday one, though a possible return to the matchday team for Gabriel Magalhães could mean one of Kai Havertz, Declan Rice, or Thomas Partey will not feature from the first whistle.