Arsène Wenger has backed his Arsenal side to bounce back from the disappointment of an opening Premier League defeat when visiting Crystal Palace on Sunday. Despite a victory over champions Chelsea in the Community Shield that fueled further optimism surrounding the club’s title chances, Arsenal went down 2-0 at home to West Ham. Wenger, though, has insisted that his side are more than capable of going on to fulfill their potential this season.
“We were disappointed with the result and with our performance,” he said in his press conference on Friday. “What we want is a strong season is as well down to how you respond to disappointments, so we focus on our next game and we prepare for that.
“Every defeat makes you a bit smaller, but it’s our job to take it into perspective. There are 37 games to go and we have history behind us in the second part of the campaign last year that shown that we have the quality to respond always and be consistent so let’s focus on our quality. In a season you will lose a game, of course that was not planned, but we know as well it’s how you respond to these kind of things that will make our season.”
As they go in search of an opening three points at Selhurst Park, Arsenal are set to be boosted by the return to their starting lineup of last season’s top scorer and star man, Alexis Sánchez. The former Barcelona forward only came off the bench against West Ham having returned to the club late in preseason after helping Chile to the Copa America title. But Wenger has confirmed that he is now ready to start, along with right-back Hector Bellerin, who missed out last week through injury. Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky, though, remain sidelined.
While Arsenal failed to take their momentum built up in the second half of last season into the opening game of this campaign, their next opponents picked up right where they left off. Crystal Palace were one of the form teams in the Premier League after Alan Pardew’s appointment in January, eventually eradicating any danger of relegation to finish in 10th place.
And that positivity continued at Norwich City last Saturday with a 3-1 victory. To put the cap on the win, the final goal was scored by Palace’s headline signing of the summer, and one of the transfer coups of the close season, Yohan Cabaye. Certainly the quality of the France international midfielder should be fully known to Wenger, who twice attempted to sign him from Newcastle before Cabaye joined Paris Saint-Germain. And Pardew has claimed that Cabaye could still more than hold his own in Arsenal’s midfield.
“He’s a fantastic player, we are honored to have him and he is definitely the level of Arsenal players,” he said, according to The Guardian. “I don’t think Arsène Wenger or anyone at Arsenal would disagree with that. We have a player who could definitely play in their team and that is a nice feeling for us. He can give us control in games.”
Another player Wenger knows well, former Arsenal forward Marouane Chamakh, is set to again miss out for Palace through injury, along with goalkeeper Julian Speroni.
Kickoff time: 8:30 a.m. EDT
TV channel: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports Live Extra